BACKGROUND


Max is TAing for two Arabic classes. The first is a second semester first year class with 14 students (mostly undergraduates with a handful of GS and MA students) and the second a third year course with 5 students (including two PhD students and one heritage speaker). The broader goals of the first year course are to introduce students to the basics of reading and writing the Arabic script, active vocabulary use, introductory grammar (broken plurals, nominal and verbal sentences, verb morphology, etc), and pronunciation. In the third year course, students are able to communicate with varying degrees of semantic, grammatical, and phonological precision, and the course emphasizes fine-tuning points of rhetoric and grammar (such as case endings) in both speech and written communication.

General Class Structure

Max leads Thursday session of class that is run by Professor other three sessions a week. As such, some specifics of the syllabus have yet to be completely developed and thus the outline below is deliberately vague at times.

General activities of the third year class: (1) one student prepares two news headlines to read out loud, discuss, and translate with peers; (2) exercises from the book; (3) listening exercise (which students prepare at home) with detailed discussion of questions about materials; (4) review of grammatical structures they learned during the preceding week.

Pre-observation Day Activities


Faculty (email October 15, 2014), administration (email October 15, 2014), and students (email October 23, 2014, and in-class discussion) have been primed for Sabrina's participation in the course as a peer observer.

Nisa will receive a copy of the draft survey by October 24th with a target of Thursday, October 30th, right before class, having the pre-survey go out (thus edits and feedback will be incorporated over the week of October 27th through 30th).

Pre-observation day steps to help students toward achieving learning goals include informing students and obtaining their consent and including a short activity the week prior introducing students to the topics to be covered on observation day.

OBSERVATION DAY


Third Year Course

On November 6th, Sabrina will observe Max's class. His Third Year class meets 11:40 to 12:45. According to the syllabus (which the faculty instructor frequently changes), the students will come to class having prepared a writing assignment of 200 words on one of two topics, namely, reflecting on the future of the relationship between the Arabs and the West or summarizing the history of the Arab/Western relationship since the Crusades and answering the question, How does that long history affect life today? This assignments comes in Chapter 3 of the students' book, the theme of which is "The Arabs and the West". It includes well-known articles from Arab intellectuals of the 20th century, as well as an excerpt from the work of an 11th century thinker, Osama bin Munqidh.

Learning objective for this class: (to be specified a week before observation when syllabus is set)

  • Students will sustain an engaging conversation in Arabic about the text they are reading that week.
  • Max will guide the discussion so that everyone participates, encouraging the use of new vocabulary and grammatical risk taking (new structures), and explicit references to the text.




Model Lesson Plan | Arabs and the West

3rd year Arabic | 11:40 to 12:45

Nov 6, 2014





Learning Objectives:

  • Students will sustain an engaging conversation in Arabic about the text they are reading that week.
  • Max will guide the discussion so that everyone participates, encouraging the use of new vocabulary and grammatical risk taking (new structures), and explicit references to the text.
  • Max would like to increase student participation and active engagement with subject matter as this will lead to improved language acquisition. Facilitating participation and targeted activities and discussions will help Max assess and hone these skills.



Task
Time
Task
Teacher
Students
Goals
Prep
11:30-11:40
N/A
Writes daily lesson plan on the board.
N/A
N/A
Warm up
11:40-11:45
Look up the term “gharb”, or “West”, in the Classical lexicon Lisan al-Arab (available online).
Teacher writes “gharb” on board, asks students to derive other vocabulary words from the root.
Class responds to TA’s instructions; Students use online lexicon to enhance discussion.
(1) Reinforce root- and wazn-based thinking about the Arabic language
Discussion
11:45-12:00
Discuss excerpts from Usama bin Munqidh’s 11th century account of the Crusaders (pp 115-6).
Teacher prompts students to relate Munqidh’s biography and his views on Christianity and “sexual jealousy”.*
Class responds to each other and teacher’s prompts
(1) Extract major ideas from text
Writing
12:00-12:10
Write a paragraph describing their expectations about Arab views of Western Europe in modern times.
Teacher walks around class, offering suggesting and answering students questions.
Individual students write in response to the prompt.

Reading
12:10- 12:25
Read short excerpts in two small groups. Each group will be assigned a 19th century travelogue and a supplementary vocab list.
Teacher will write difficult words/phrases on the board to assist during presentations.
Students will read in small groups and prepare to present a summary and short reflection on what they read.
(1) Identify difficult vocabulary; (2) Write notes on text
Presentation
12:25- 12:40

TA will prompt students to connect the accounts of earlier travelers to their own travel experience and cultural difference.
Each group will present what they found and then answer questions prepared by the other group.

Wrap up
12:40- 12:45

Summarize key points from discussions and highlight unresolved issues







* Sample prompts (to be filled in later)



The first excerpt (p. 203) is from al-Tahtawi’s canonical travelogue Takhlis al-Ibriz fi Talkhis Baris (The Extraction of Gold, or An Overview of Paris), published in 1849. In it, he describes in vivid detail his five years in Paris as the Imam for a group of Egyptian military officers sent to France for higher education from 1826 to 1831. The excerpt I have chosen is about eight lines in which al-Tahtawi shares his candid view of French religiosity with a degree of distaste, surprise, and humor. Second excerpt, from Muhammad as-Saffar’s Rihla as-Saffar ila Franansa (As-Saffar’s Travel to France), in which he describes the way in which the French dance during one of their royal balls (which he attended as the Moroccan ambassador to France).






How learning goal helps the instructor define his teaching:
  • Max would like to increase student participation and active engagement with subject matter as this will lead to improved language acquisition. Facilitating participation and targeted activities and discussions will help Max assess and hone these skills.

Max's vision of how students will step towards that goal:
  • Students will work towards this goal of active and meaningful engagement starting in the early weeks of the semester. Max will actively seek student participation in class, during office hours, and through other means of communication to foster an open and judgement free learning environment.
  • Students engagement with the same text and grammatical structures through non-classroom assignments will further work to increase their confidence and ability to participate.

Sabrina's understanding of what exactly she is tracking:
  • Sabrina will track activities both before and during the classroom observations session.
    • Pre-class: Sabrina will facilitate the creation, dissemination, and evaluation of a brief, anonymous student survey (see below).
    • In-class observation: Sabrina will be able to track student-specific engagement (not quality as she does not speak Arabic) with a check list from Facebook and teacher attempts to pull quiet students into discussion and manage overly dominant ones.


Sabrina's understanding of how the tracked session or assignment will be measured:
  • Pre-class survey: facilitation of student participation will be directly measured through the items:
    • The TA encourages student participation. (does not encourage, somewhat encourages, strongly encourages)
    • Your Thursday class meetings are interesting. (strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree)
    • Your Thursday class meetings are relevant. (strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree)
    • I am able to demonstrate competencies intended to be taught to this point in the course. (strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree)

  • In-class observation: the student-specific engagement tracker will be summed by student and then each student will be compared to each other to explore student participation patterning. This patterning will be matched to observations on Instructor's attempts to engage/manage participation in a general way. It will not be possible to guarantee with just one observer the temporal relationship between each student and the Instructor, however whenever possible relationships will be documented and reviewed.

Observation Activities

Pre-session Survey
  • General mid-term survey of Thursday sections to be administered anonymously and electronically through Survey Monkey.
  • Specific items: Please respond to the following questions thinking only of your Thursday sessions with Max:
    • The TA communicates course content clearly. (not clearly, somewhat clearly, very clearly)
    • The TA encourages student participation. (does not encourage, somewhat encourages, strongly encourages)
    • The TA responds to students' questions effectively in class. (not effectively, somewhat effectively, very effectively)
      • For those who have respondent somewhat or very effectively subsequent item: Please rate your agreement with the following statement: After a class meeting, in general, the questions I had entering class have been answered or resolved. (strongly disagree, somewhat disagree, somewhat agree, strongly agree)
    • The TA is available for academic support outside of class. (is not available, somewhat available, very available)
    • The TA is well prepared for class. (is not well prepared, is somewhat well prepared, is very well prepared)
    • How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements:
      • Your Thursday class meetings are interesting. (strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree)
      • Your Thursday class meetings are relevant. (strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree)
      • Your Thursday class session contribute to your ability to use Arabic. (strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree)
      • Your Thursday class session contribute to your ability to meet your linguistic learning goals. (strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree)
      • Your office hour meetings with Max contribute to your ability to use Arabic. (strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree)
      • Your office hour meetings with Max contribute to your ability to meet your linguistic learning goals. (strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree)
    • Now, let's think about your individual learning in the course thus far. Please think only about your abilities in Arabic when responding to these items.
      • I am able to understand new vocabulary in my reading every week. (strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree)
      • I am able to use new vocabulary in my written work every week. (strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree)
      • I am able to use new vocabulary orally every week. (strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree)
      • I am able to understand new grammatical structures in my reading every week. (strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree)
      • I am able to use new grammatical structures in my written work every week. (strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree)
      • I am able to use new grammatical structures orally every week. (strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree)
      • I feel uncomfortable explicitly reference course-text in class conversations. (strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree)


In-class Observation
  • Facebook (from courseworks) based tracker created in excel so that Observer can tally each time individual participates within each activity period in class. i.e. each box could be a different activity (10 minute section of the class), facilitating easy data collection from the Observer's perspective (see attached Peer review in-class tracking sheet)
Peer review in class tracking.docx
Peer review in class tracking.docx
Peer review in class tracking.docx
. This is organized by time and not activity understanding that often activities don't stick with the proposed time set.
  • Additionally session will be recorded so that Max and Sabrina can review at their November 7th meeting.

Potential implications of observation findings

There are many potential implications of the findings from this observation. For instance, it is possible that students will identify non-class participation issues as being central to their learning process, thus highlighting an inconsistency between Max's understanding of the class and the students'.

Feedback from the session that would help improve my approach to teaching would be that there is an inconsistency between how time is spent in class, my learning objectives for the class, and students' evaluation of their learning (reading, written, oral). While students are not always the most objective evaluators of their language proficiency, if, for example, 50% of class time was spent on encouraging student participation in oral activities (based on interactions and activity tracking) and the results of the survey shows that actually students aren't able to completely understand the reading material, the class organization could be adjusted so that more time is spent on reading comprehension, since oral participation in class, based on assigned texts is not possible if students do not have at least a basic understanding of the text.

PROVISIONAL SCHEDULE


Sept. 29 - Teagle meeting

Oct. 4th - Submit observation plan

Oct. 6th - Discuss observation plan

Oct. 20th - Check in by email or call (tentative & provisional)
  • discuss refining learning goals for both classes

Oct. 23rd - Final draft confirmed

Oct. 30th - Observation plan locked

Nov. 6th - Sabrina will observe Max's class
11 am - Sabrina arrives at class and discusses final details of observation with Max
11:30 - Max starts class prep and Sabrina confirms that everything is set for class
11:40 - Max starts class and introduces Sabrina and video recording
11:40 - 12:45 - Sabrina completes observation instrument while Max teaches. Sabrina will have a 10 minute silent timer set on her clock to ensure that she adds the 'activity' component at the appropriate times.
12:45 - 1 - Sabrina and Max do a quick de-brief
Nov. 7th - 4:15 to 5:00 PM - Sabrina and Max formal debrief and planning of video review.
Nov. 14th - Final Observation report due

December - Final observation report submitted