Fieldnote 8 Oct. 2012

The Mexington Library. I won’t be back tomorrow as I have some training to get to in order to participate in the Latino Educational Fair next week. I made arrangements to come back by on Thursday to tutor after I head back from the elementary school on Thursday. I’ll also be having a meeting at the library before I go to the elementary school in order to have a meeting with the branch manager about my research with the families, and directions where my fieldwork at the center could potentially travel.

Back to this evening. First I worked with third-grader Jamal. We did some math, subtracting by borrowing numbers. I noticed his worksheets had him focus more on the process than actually performing the mathematical functions. By this I mean that he did know how to do the problems, but the worksheet focuses on the steps he used and describing the steps with language. I remember doing similar steps with the MANOS youth, and how this process oriented view of writing made sense in terms of developing reflexive thinking. These same skills happen with the translations I conducted with the bilingual homework of the youth the previous week.

Jamal and I finished his math, he seemed to enjoy working with me. He wanted to read a book together. The interesting think about this book was that it was in Spanglish. It was about a buddy named Conejito and his escape from the evil Lobo who on this full luna wanted to make a caldo de conejo. This exercise in reading this book with monolingual Jamal was fun. Jamal is a English monolingual, an African American boy who lives in the Mexington area. He had some Spanish practice with the youth in his neighborhood. I could determine this based on some of his inflections with the words.

“We did a little Spanish in first grade,” he said.

“You like Spanish?”

“I want to learn more.”

When we finished, I told him to keep practicing the words we learned.

“Are you gonna be here tomorrow?”

“No, I have something to do, but I’ll be back next week. We’ll read some more Spanish, como no verdad?”

Another youth sitting behind us. “That book’s in Spanish?”

“Spanglish,” I said. “It has a mix.”

“I like that book,” the boy said. He returned to his math.

The next boy I worked with was in fourth grade. We read a graphic novel together. He went to the bilingual school. His additional homework included math word problems in Spanish. Again, these problems were somewhat of a challenge for me so I relied on the boy to take the lead and walk me through, as well as translate the problems into English for me to understand.

When I finished with him, he thanked me. Another tutor approached me and said she enjoyed watching me read with the student. She said it was very sad for him.

“Why?”

“He has a tumor in his head.”

“Oh.”

“Yes, he’s such a smart boy, but it’s very sad.”

“Is he having surgery soon, or getting treatment?”

“Well his mom’s still trying to figure that one out. It’s a very sad situation,” she said.

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