Fieldnote, 11 March 2013

Slow night at the library, or at least by the time I arrived. There were not many tutors form the UK because this week is Spring Break. One of the students I helped read a book with, second grader Ernesto told me he didn’t have school.

“Do you have Spring Break?”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t have school tomorrow?”

“No.”

“And the day after?”

“I don’t know.”

“He doesn’t even know,” said third grader Dolores. She laughed. Ernesto laughed too.

I helped third grader Kayley with her homework, her math homework: counting coins, using nickels to learn the fives table. She also counted pennies. The girl I helped after her, also in third grade but attending a different school also had homework counting money, again, nickels and pennies.

I finished homework help with an “older” student, a fourth grader. She was working on a powerpoint-timeline about U.S. Westward Expansion. Each Powerpoint slide would be a point in a timeline. She began her timeline with the election of George Washington in 1781 and ended it at 1839 with the Louisiana Purchase.

Teachable moment? O yes.

I asked her where she was from.

“From Chicago. My family is from Mexico.”

“De que parte?”

“Hablas español? Usted es Mexicano?”

“Claro. De donde es tu familia?”

“De Durango. No parece Mexicano.”

“Why not?”

“Because you speak English like real good.”

I asked her why she ended her timeline when she did.

“That’s where my mom finished working with me, and we only needed ten slides.”

“I think we should add one more. I’ll be right back.”

I found a map of the United States, a tearable sheet for students to have for reference when learning capitals and national geography. We reviewed the English colonies. Then I showed her where the French colonized North America. Then of course the Spanish.

“Look at this state here. Nevada. Que signifier?”

“What? It’s Spanish . . . oh, it means snowy. It’s snowy there?”

“En las montanas, si. Y mire, este estado. I just said it.”

“Montana, that’s mountain. Yeah, and this one here says Mexico, New Mexico.”

“That’s a little more complicated, but same idea.”

We added one more scene for her timeline. 1848 U.S.-Mexico War and how the U.S. completed expansion to the Pacific Ocean.

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