Fieldnotes, 30 Oct. 2012

I picked Sara up from the university and we traveled up the library to do her community project engaging the library youngsters with music. There were children interested this round, and also a mother and daughter attended. The group was around the same size, about five, including Sara, Jenna, the new mother, and myself and five children. They knew some of the songs, but some not. I noticed some parents who were interested, but appeared to be more invested with getting their children to finish their homework so they could leave. I wondered about the social element for parents at the library. What kinds of classes or events do they have for the parents in the meantime their students receive tutoring. If the parents don’t accompany the youth (which I think should start to happen, what would happen?), what kinds of things can they do? I haven’t observed this as much as I should have, and I will begin to do so.

When I’m there, I see different mothers and fathers using technology, from the technology room with children moving between. Between the large technology room which has more computers than books, but does have books, as well as the offices for the assistant manager, there are several rows of computers with occupied users almost always interacting all over the world. Between this large room is a corridor running to the main library entrance, or the side with books. A subsection with classrooms is right next to a waiting section where different mothers chat while their children wait in line. Other parents sit with one another, some reading newspapers, or with cell phones. I notice one group who sits with a man practicing English in one corner. I wonder if that’s a program.

While we set up stuff, I go out to recruit some children. A few say they will come out, and they do. Shooting for one-hour of activities, that may be long, especially when there is another activity going on with students reading to dogs. Yes, students reading to dogs brought by the humane society. Talk about a great ethnographic project that could be. I’ll have to keep that one in mind for a student someday.

I let Sara conduct the class as I gave out nametags and she practiced the different songs in English and Spanish. There was the one about hello how are you in English and Spanish. We went around the circle. Then after that we did the pio pio pio. This was about the pollitos. The students seemed to know this one. It made a few smile. I needed help I told them. They laughed at my accent. Bueno ni modo I said. I saw a few mothers from a distance watching the song laughing when I said that.

We did another song where we stood and named body parts in Spanish and English, and also another where we clapped hands passing something from one another. I couldn’t even catch the words because I was too concerned about hand coordination and watching one student, the daughter of the mother who attended, not respond to the hand clapping. She was upset. “Why are they hitting me?” she asked her mother.

So that went well. Sara and I each tutored for an hour after that. We each helped only one student, I a student with reading and writing about a story. I had helped her older sister. Isabel reminded me of students from MANOS, giggles, but having fun with homework. She was also smart and didn’t need much help from me, aside from some punctuation with her writing, and also generating sentences before she wrote them. Enunciation of the sentences in her short responses before she wrote them. I would write what she said, and we could work from the transcript I wrote with her words. I can model for her transcribing and revision trying to capture and make sense of her ideas. She still must write her own sentence and her own vision.

After one hour of tutoring each, Sara and I left for DHS to attend the noche de ciencias sponsored by that group of high school students I’ve been working with, well, on and off with, on a book project. There has been little movement on that part that I know of, and it’s already coming on November. The next time I meet them I’ll have to announce beforehand on Facebook and ask about writing.

There were not as many families as they anticipated. They wanted 50 children. They got about 10. The coordination was left all up to students, but they had no examples, and on the online network, they really had no leadership. It was hard to determine where this project could go. I would get them with some writing exercises posted somewhere online. I’m thinking of using Facebook with instagram with the students to get them writing.

“Well, we tried.” She shrugged her shoulders, the sort of captain of the team. And I think she thought I was let down. No, it’s not really a club, maybe you guys think different of yourselves. I congratulated her and the club, and I think they did well. There were about six parents in the college preparation section, and they received tutoring in assisting their children apply for college and financial aid. This was important information and delivered in Spanish.

We had some pasta before we left. The best part I would have to say was the robot a robotics team brought to the cafeteria. The boxlike machine of cylinders and wheels spinning in different directions sucked up basketballs and spit them back out at different velocities. It spun around according to the remote screen of a laptop operator sitting at a table behind the beast.

That thing easily was worth the price of admission. Sweet robot.

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