Fieldnote, 19 March 2013

Two hours this week at the library only because of the meeting I had yesterday. It was a hectic night, and I helped three students. For the most part, I tried to stay focused, but I was very tired after spending most of the previous night working on an article manuscript, grading student papers, corresponding on emails, and putting some last touches on the Dunbar manuscript for the high school students to review. You know, being a professor and trying to stay involved in the community . . .

I helped Jose with his math homework. Second grader, and already learning to do multiplication. He did a worksheet where he added groups. He grasped this well enough, and he knew how to count by 2’s and 5’s well. With the other problems, we had to stop and do some counting.

I worked with another student, a third grader, Julie. She was also working on similar math problems, but with worksheets and were something like assembly line problems in rows. There were no visuals, all drills. Like Jose she counted well with 2’s and 5’s, but also 10’s. She needed help, however, with some of the larger times tables. I wondered if a review with some of Jose’s work might help her with some of these problems she was doing, or helping her to visualize the problems different. I decided to make a picture of one of the problems, I used rows. 4 x 4 became four rows of four circles. We counted these (in Spanish and English) and she used this method to work on additional problems.

I decided to throw in the Spanish there to question and challenge her to use her heritage language in the math homework. She stumbled on some of the numbers over ten, but overall she handled it well. She said it was fun to count in Spanish, but it made her think more. She had to think a lot, she said, because she had to translate the numbers in the math problem, which she thought about in English, then into Spanish. She translated numeracy to literacy then between languages.

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