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Period 5 - Reyna Wan - Printable Version

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Period 5 - Reyna Wan - CALIS - 09-26-2023

Thank you for participating in TIRP service-learning outreach!

Your reports are the basis for academic credit.  Whether or not you are seeking a credit option, reports are required as a university record of service-learning efforts and impact in local schools.

Required Format:
Session 1 materials: [The first line of your report is the session number and full title of the database item(s).]
Focus Q: [On a new line, list your focus question from your TAP form. If you changed the question then add the new version after the TAP version.]
*** For the minimum of 3 student specifics, do not refer to students by name; instead call them Student A, B or C.
*** For the minimum of 500 words, guiding questions are here:

Use clear paragraph structure. If you include too much focus on the step-by-step process of the lesson rather than substance, you may be asked to revise your report.
*** The webboard is public. If you include names, commentary or observations, you will need to revise your post.

To Post:
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2. Copy/paste from your Word file and save a copy until after the semester is over.
3. Before pasting, confirm that you have met the minimum of at least 500 words.
4. Each report must be submitted by midnight within 3 calendar days after each session.

A CALIS staff member will review your report each week and post a message below of the scoring for your performance evaluation.
We welcome any questions or concerns you have about scoring.
Session 1: NPR: Out of a Nigerian Slum, a Poet Is Born + Four Worlds
- On time 2/3
- Substantive 6/6
- Student specific 6/6
Comments: Excellent report, Reyna! Very detailed recap of what happened in the class, including the teaching content, students’ responses, and even the teacher’s feedback. I especially enjoy your comparison between students B and C about the same topic, which definitely sparked a meaningful discussion! Nice job!
LY 11/2

Session 2:
- On time 2/3
- Substantive 6/6
- Student specific 6/6
Comments: This is fantastic, Reyna! You did a great job describing the challenges with the class, especially with complicated topics like different factors and variables that caused the war. I especially enjoyed how Students A and B made the gun analogy. Great job!
LY 11/7

Session 3:
- On time 2/3
- Substantive 6/6
- Student specific 6/6
Comments: It is absolutely true that “starting the class with a video was more engaging in theory than in practice!” I would recommend downloading the videos you are planning to use in future sessions so you are more prepared for the class. That said, excellent job in trying to elevate engagement, and I’m excited to see more collective engagement in the next session!
LY 11/14

Session 4:
- On time 0/3
- Substantive 6/6
- Student specific 6/6
Comments: Congratulations on getting the student engaged, that must be a great sense of achievement! I hope you enjoyed your experience at TIRP, and welcome back for the upcoming semesters!


RE: Period 5 - Reyna Wan - Reyna Wan - 10-30-2023

Session 1 materials: NPR: Out of a Nigerian Slum, a Poet Is Born + Four Worlds

Focus Question: How do problems like government mismanagement and public dissatisfaction first arise? How do these problems develop into factors of violence (both domestic and foreign)?

Before delving into the domestic and international variables as causes of war, we wanted to start the students with something more relatable to them, specifically in the role of individuals. To do this, we focused the class on “Out of a Nigerian Slum, a Poet is Born” to discuss how human rights issues and overwhelming poverty can push constituents into wanting war. We first had students read through the article as a class before splitting them into four groups. For the first half of the class, each group answered two of the eight questions based on the handout. Then, we had them categorize what they learned into the Four Worlds with each group representing one of the categories. Both activities were Think-Group-Share sessions with a concept map. 

The first half of the class seemed to be the most difficult for the students. It was harder for them to relate to, and the last three questions of the handout were longer, more open-ended questions. To break down the more difficult components, we walked around the classroom to clarify any definitions by providing examples illustrating something similar. For example, Student A was struggling to understand how diversity is present in Nigeria. We guided them to the answer by first asking her what diversity means to her. When they mentioned culture, religion and ethnicities, we asked them how they see these qualities present in cities like Los Angeles. From there, they were able to connect the thoughts and later answer the questions about the “paradox of plenty” with limited help. We used the same guidance when the entire class came together to share their answers, specifically on questions regarding the international community and how political change can occur with or without economic change. The teaching assistant and Ms. Hernandez also helped to answer questions within the groups. 

We then moved onto the Four Worlds where we had students rank each category’s factors based on how much they were prioritized by Nigeria. Right next to that ranking, we asked them to rank the same factors for the United States. This activity was more engaging for the students than the hand-out as there was more discussion and variation in their answers. In the group discussing culture, Student B placed tolerance as the most present in the United States while Student C placed hope. Both students had also placed these two components at the very bottom of what’s present in Nigeria. When I asked both students why they placed these variables as their first, Student B discussed the importance of making minority groups feel more accepted, while Student C felt that people in the United States have a shared sense of hope that keeps them relatively stable. 

When we came back together as a group, we saw how students were beginning to understand how the presence or lack of these factors can lead to war. The most discursive topics were the paradox of plenty, where students were curious how Nigeria could be rich in resources while poorer than countries who bought their resources. Students also provided strong reasonings for their placement of infrastructure (specifically in electricity and education) as well as a democracy. 

Overall, the students were as engaged as they were distracted. Some students were more willing to participate, while others took a little bit more convincing to focus. Though I think our first lesson went relatively well considering how little preparation our team did, I hope to make future sessions a little bit more relatable to the students. Instead of providing them with handouts and putting them into groups immediately, I think it’ll be better to open the class with a lecture and a class-wide discussion. When discussing actual wars in the upcoming weeks, I also want to parallel elements of the battles to battles they’ve personally experienced in their lives. 

Word Count: 637

RE: Period 5 - Reyna Wan - Reyna Wan - 11-06-2023

Session 2 materials: Causes of War, Name That Tune Activity 

Focus Questions: What are the onset variables of war? How does a leader’s individual behaviors, state problems, and international forces interact to give rise to these circumstances? 

After covering a specific example of how individuals in a society impact war in Week 1, we moved on, this week, to discuss how an individual impacts the domestic and international variables of starting a war. To do this, we opened the class with a short introduction to the basic factors that distinguish a national variable from an international variable, focusing on more difficult terms like balance of power, anarchy, hegemony and alliance behavior. We then had them read the other factors more in detail before splitting them into three groups with each one representing problems a, b or c on the “Name That Tune” worksheet. Once in groups, we had the whole class popcorn-read the excerpts, before giving them each a few minutes to highlight key words or phrases to determine what variable their problem represented. We then had them come back together as a group to discuss the key phrases they chose and how it relates to causes of war. Both activities were Think-Group-Share sessions with short lectures embedded throughout. 

From the get-go of the class, it was harder to catch their attention than last week. It might’ve been that it was a class-wide activity or simply that the factors we discussed were of little interest to them, but even splitting the class into groups in the first few minutes of class took longer than expected with some groups much larger than intended. When we briefed the class on the more complicated definitions, there was some more participation for words like hegemony and anarchy, but they still seemed to be a bit disconnected. However, we did manage to gain their attention after delving into our specific cases for the day: North Korea and Iraq. 

North Korea seemed to be the most interesting to the class, as it was something more of the class was familiar with and, for whatever they weren’t familiar with, we were able to apply analogies to people and concepts they did understand. When the students were split into groups and determining which variable their problem was associated with, Kayli, Josh and I split up to take charge of one of the groups, where I worked primarily with problem A. Before I even got there, Student A and Student B were discussing the implications of treaties as a systemic condition to the international system. They were, however, a little bit confused on what the Non-Nuclear Proliferation Treaty is. I jumped in a little here and explained how it’s a bit like a chicken game. It helps make sure the more powerful countries have multilateral access to nuclear weapons, so they can, one, not target it at each other and, two, prevent smaller countries from creating weapons that target them. Student A asked me if it’s like giving a gun to the most powerful people, so they don’t shoot, while Student B asked me if it’s like giving a gun to everyone, so they don’t shoot. Without answering the question directly, I asked the two students to talk amongst themselves of what was similar to their answer and what was different.

When we eventually came back together as a group, students were more engaged in the components we discussed regarding North Korea, such as the Kim’s family cult of personality, the impact of a totalitarian regime and whether or not they would be comfortable living in a society where their leader’s picture is hung on every wall. That element seemed to strike a chord for the students, specifically Student C who was the first to ask what the cult of personality even meant. To that, I asked the student who was someone they found to be really inspiring with a massive following. Collectively, the whole class named Taylor Swift. I then asked the student to imagine a world where everyone was forced to worship Taylor Swift and given no choice but to support her. 

We followed the same structure for Iraq where the same factors showed up—cult of personality, the impacts of a dictatorship, the lack of vocal opposition and how a sanction from another country is a way of hurting a country without violence. Overall, there were moments where students were engaged, but I think we could’ve stuck with North Korea from the beginning to capture their interests. In the following weeks, I want to focus more on specific cases, with videos to start the class to act as an introduction rather than just our voices and incorporate activities that are more relatable to them. 

Word Count: 750

RE: Period 5 - Reyna Wan - Reyna Wan - 11-13-2023

Session 3 materials: World War II- Quoting the Causes, World War II- Making a Statement

Focus Question: What were the main causes of World War II? How did individual behavior, domestic issues and the international system pave the way for such circumstances?

Having worked through the individual, domestic and systemic levels of analysis, we focused this week on discussing how these three components worked together in starting World War II. We first opened the class with a short video about World War II. After watching half of the over 13 minute video, we recapped the video’s main details, especially the countries and leaders that differentiated the Allied and Axis Powers. To complete the worksheet, we worked on the first quote together as a class before splitting them into three groups—each one categorizing two of the remaining six quotes. This Thursday lesson was a Think-Pair-Share activity to demonstrate two analytical tools: levels of analysis and a continuum. 

Starting the class with a video was more engaging in theory than in practice. The original, more interesting video we showed to the class was hidden by the district, so we had to show a video that was a bit more monotonous, even to me. Most students were on their phones or distracted, so, when we recapped the video’s main details, we honed in on specific details of the war that students already understood, such as the infamous leaders Stalin and Hitler, while lecturing on more complicated components, like the ideologies that separated the Allied and Axis powers. So, when it came time to work on the first quote, it wasn’t too hard to get participation since students were familiar with Stalin. What the quote discussed—tariffs, military conflicts and trade wars—was a bit difficult for them to grasp, but we explained them as ways of fighting a war without violence to help them understand. 

After splitting them into groups, Kayli, Josh and I each took charge of a different group where I worked with Group 3 on quotes from Cordell Hull and Goebbels. Of all the names on the handout, these were the two the students were most unfamiliar with, so I spent the first five minutes explaining who these characters were. When students learned that Hull was Secretary of State for the United States, it aided their understanding of the quote, as they understood the impact of the U.S on the international system. However, when it came time for categorizing the quote, I received two main answers: National Attributes and Systemic Conditions. Student A saw that this was Hull demonstrating the collective beliefs of the U.S as a nation, whereas Student B identified that Hull was demonstrating these beliefs in aiding the international system. Though Student A was on the right track, I worked with them specifically by asking them to read through the entire quote, aloud this time, while referring to the variables listed on the first page. It was on the second reading that the student located words like treaties, international relations and all nations, guiding them to the right answer of systemic conditions. 

When discussing Goebbels quote, Student C was first curious on what the Fuhrer was. After paralleling it to a declaration of sorts, it helped the student categorize it under human behavior, focusing on the last sentence “right or wrong, we must win.” Student C was also persistent in their understanding of the quote, as they asked questions about Bolshevizing Europe and what it means to bleed a country white. Student A and Student C ended up being the two students who spoke out the group’s answers when we came back together to discuss the answers to all the quotes. 

This class was definitely more successful than the last class in terms of engagement, and they’re all starting to gauge levels of analysis better. The only component I’d want to improve in is collective participation. The students are willing to engage with us in smaller groups but, in a bigger group, it’s the same four people who are always talking. In the next class, I hope to use either a role-play or some simulation-type activity to make everyone talk more. 

Word Count: 652

RE: Period 5 - Reyna Wan - Reyna Wan - 11-24-2023

Session 4 Materials: Vox Article- Putin’s War on Ukraine, Explained

Focus Question: Why did Russia launch an offensive against Ukraine? How can the factors be analyzed at the individual, national and international level?

After covering more historical wars, we shifted our last lesson to be to the more contemporary causes of the Russian-Ukraine War. We opened the class with the Vox video before debriefing on the video’s main components, especially the implications of NATO and the Warsaw Pact. Following our typical structure, we then split the class into three groups to answer all four questions in a small-group discussion. Our final Thursday lesson was a Think-Pair-Share activity with a Q&A session at the end.

Contrary to the previous week’s lesson, this video was actually engaging to the students. Some students were still on their phones, but, when we did the debrief after, more students were willing to raise their hands to either answer our questions or ask questions before we even breached them. Student A, who I had barely heard from in the past month, was quick to raise their hand in clarifying what countries were within the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence. Guiding them through the article, we pointed out Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Poland and Czechoslovakia as well as what alliances they fell under after the fall of the Soviet Union. 

After splitting them into groups, Kayli, Josh and I each took charge of a different group where I had a chance to work with students I had never worked with before. The only thing I had noticed about these students before was how disconnected they were from most topics we discussed.. So, I was pleasantly surprised when it was these students who answered my question from the get-go. Student B was especially vocal in their approach to the questions, matching recurring variables within the levels of analysis to details mentioned in the article. For example, when I had them analyze the causes of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Student B was quick to mention the aggression and military capability of the Soviet Union as well as its imperialistic goals. They were also the one to connect the Soviet Union’s imperialism as a justification for waging a war on their sovereignty. Student C, who I noticed was almost always on their phone or looking to the teacher for a bathroom pass, was equally as vocal. Though they required a bit more guidance and persuasion, they were eventually able to answer questions of Ukraine’s perspective on the war. Citing variables like violations of sovereignty and the public opinion of Ukrainians, the student concluded that Ukraine is fighting for their right to self-determination. When we eventually came back together as a class, these two students were quick to answer the questions, persuading others in the group to raise their hands too. 

By the request of the teacher, we wrapped up the class with a quick college Q&A, where we discussed the importance of time management, alternative routes to getting a college degree and the different ways students can afford college. Students didn’t seem super interested in the session, but I think it would’ve been more effective if we split them into smaller groups and answered questions that way. 

Out of all four classes, I’d say this was the most engaging class for the students. There was more of a collective participation, and the students seemed more willing to adhere to our class structure than before. It was also nice to get to know the students a little bit in the smaller groups. When students were stuck on a question or there was a lull in the conversation, I’d ask them what other topics they were interested in, even if it’s outside the scope of IR. From answers that ranged from their future careers to subjects they like to study, I was able to maneuver it back to how the skills we’re teaching them can be transferable to their other interests, hopefully making them just a bit more connected to why we study history and politics.

Word Count: 643