Last year, I blogged about the creation of our party planning unit in second year Arabic, including some of the challenges. Since we are on the verge of creating the second round of this unit, I thought I would give an update on how it is going this time (short version: much better!). First, we renamed it to Event Planning rather than Party Planning to use a greater variety of texts and also make it seem like a more serious topic, since for university students, parties don’t necessarily require a great deal of planning.
As usual, we have the unit set up such that students work on a Can-Do Statement with an example text each day. In this case, they are all related to party planning, and based on last year’s experience we cut some of the less relevant Can-Do Statements in our context (I can present a guest speaker, I can decide on appropriate clothing for the party) and added some more relevant ones related to the logistics of planning, which was a major challenge for our students last year (I can present the steps in planning a party, I can write a formal email).
Another change we made was to choose one text to use parts of every day, rather than finding a different text for each step of the party planning. Using this text (which if you don’t read Arabic is a list of steps in planning a party), we had the students read different paragraphs each day, starting with paragraph 2 (I can present ideas for a party) and continuing with other paragraphs based on the topic (e.g. I can plan the food and decorations, paragraphs 5 and 6). We also had the students practice the planning skills of breaking larger tasks down into smaller ones and figuring out what information they would need to complete the task (e.g. to order the food you need to know the budget) prior to putting them in the committees actually carrying out the tasks.
Following this part of the unit, they chose to be in one of three committees (food and decor, logistics, and activities). Each committee was given a calendar of the days remaining until the party, their task list, and their work the previous week breaking down the tasks and figuring out what information they needed. Each day, they had to present what they did for homework (emailing the professor to reserve a room, planning the food list, etc.) and then meet in their committee to figure out the next steps., determine if they had any questions for the other committees, and decide on what their homework was for that night. So far they are on track, and getting excited about the party!
The actual party is tonight, and I will unforunately be missing it (my co-teacher will be there) as I am attending the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Convention in DC. However, we thought this was a great opportunity to revisit the social media unit we did at the beginning of the semester, so my students will be live-tweeting the party for me so I don’t miss out!
Do you do planning or party units in your classes? If so, how does it work?