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Fragment 4. Final Process in the Activity (Hanging the Sweater)

Fragment 4. Final Process in the Activity (Hanging the Sweater)

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Margarita Martínez-Pérez

107. Mother ! Mar: lek’ xa xkile

“I think that’s enough”


108. Mother ! Mar: ak’bo xa echeluk

“wet it one more time”

109. Mar ! Mother: sk’an to xkil


“It’s not done yet”

110. Mar ! Mother: oto ¼ (oy to) xavon ((eye contact and smile))

“it still has soap”

In the end, the mother cannot convince the girl, so she shifts her attention to

something else (de Leo´n, 2011; Goodwin, 2006b; Tulbert & Goodwin,

2011). This attention shift consisted of ignoring the girl and going back

to the task she was performing before Mar’s initiative—embroidering a

blouse. After a few minutes, the girl finally decides to hang the sweater, thus

concluding the activity.

Fragment 4 shows how the mother allows the girl to see that the sweater

has been scrubbed and rinsed enough, that there is no soap left on it, so the

sweater is ready to be hung out to dry and the process has been completed.

However, the girl does not respond to her mother’s instruction, and she

refuses to finish the activity. In (Turn 105), the mother indicates with head

and finger gestures where to hang the sweater out to dry. The use of gestures

juxtaposed with a verbal indication serves to emphasize the mother’s

request. This triggers a communicative exchange of explanations by Mar,

who gives her reasons for not hanging the sweater yet: (Turns 106 and

110) she has not finished the activity and (Turn 111) “it still has soap.”

This last fragment gives evidence of an interactive process between the

girl and her mother in carrying out the activity. The girl does not play a passive role, but actively pitches in, assigning meaning and making her own

decision at the conclusion of the activity. This is consistent with the perspectives of other studies that point out that children are active agents in their

own socialization and learning processes (de Leo´n, 2005, 2011; Rogoff

et al., 2003 [2010]; Schieffelin & Ochs, 1986). It also ties into the LOPI

model, indicating that learners pitch in to the goals of their family and community, and that their motivation to take initiative is based on mutual

responsibility (Alcala´ et al., 2014; Coppens et al., 2014; Rogoff, 2014).

The interactive nature of Activity 1 shows a connection with most of the

LOPI facets. Although I looked at these connections separately, I agree

wholeheartedly with the idea that each facet is holistically related and interconnected with the others (Rogoff, 2014; Rogoff et al., 2003 [2010]). They

Adults’ Orientation and Children’s Initiative


are like a woven textile or a back strap loom, where all the threads are juxtaposed and interwoven into a single piece, as is demonstrated in the interrelational nature of the data presented in this chapter.

The facets of LOPI observed here were:

a. Facet 2: Mar is eager to pitch in to the activity.

b. Facet 3: The activity’s social organization emerges collaboratively and in

joint coordination with others. The girl’s initiative prompts the adults to

pitch in to the activity.

c. Facet 4: The interaction aims at transforming the girl’s participation,

including getting her to recognize the materials and concrete actions

needed to execute the activity as well as supporting her initiative.

d. Facet 6: Using verbal and nonverbal communicative resources, the

mother and sister guide and accompany the girl in carrying out the activity. For her part, Mar actively contributes to her own learning process in

each step of the activity that she executes.

e. Facet 7: The adults’ explanations and evaluations are inserted and interspersed in the activity as Mar performs each action, for the purpose of

developing Mar’s understanding about washing.

3.2 Activity 2: “Beto Shelling beans”

This activity lasted 10 min and 49 s. In this chapter, I analyze only a few fragments of the whole interaction.

The child, Beto (1 year 9 months old), is playing around his grandmother

when she begins to clean dry bean pods and extract the seeds. Being exposed

to the activity triggers the boy’s interest to explore and “pitch in” to “help”

the adult. Beto’s initiative and participation gives his grandmother the

opportunity to teach him how to distinguish rotten pods from good ones.

In addition, the grandmother shows him that the beans are not to be thrown

away, only the hull goes into the wastebasket.

Context: The grandmother (69 years old) is shelling beans. Her grandson

Beto (1 year 9 months old) joins in the activity and imitates his grandmother’s actions. The grandmother does not say anything to the boy and

continues performing the activity. The boy starts vocalizing, and the grandmother responds with the interjection sequence umm “what,” while both

shell the beans and throw the hulls into the wastebasket.

Beto crushes the bean hull while he throws it into the wastebasket. During this process, he notices that there is a pod in the wastebasket. He takes it

out and tries to shell it, but cannot open the pod. He then asks for his


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grandmother’s help. The grandmother takes the bean pod, notices that it is

rotten, and begins explaining this to the boy through a series of demonstrations. Finally the boy seems to understand, and he continues helping his

grandmother (obviously, the “helping” is from his own perspective).

Now the boy grabs a handful of beans in their shell and almost throws

them into the trash. When his grandmother notices this, she takes the handful from his hands, which leads to a series of explanations of how the beans

are not to be thrown away, only the hulls.

3.2.1 Fragment 1: Initiative

1. Beto: ((Directly gets involved in the activity to pitch in))

(9 Turns are omitted) Image 2

11. Beto: ((Grandmother and grandson carry out the activity))

12. Beto: ((The boy throws the hull into the wastebasket, imitating his

grandmother’s actions))

Fragment 1 shows how this 1-year-9-month-old boy takes initiative

to “pitch in” and help his grandmother shell beans. Unlike Activity 1,

in which the initiative is expressed verbally and with gestures, Beto’s

initiative occurs through direct involvement, without the use of verbal


After Beto gets directly involved, fragment 2 shows how his

initiative opens a window for interaction and an exchange of communication

between him and his grandmother to distinguish a rotten bean pod from a

good one.

Image 2 Beto and his grandmother shelling beans.

Adults’ Orientation and Children’s Initiative


3.2.2 Fragment 2. The Grandmother Helps Beto Distinguish a Rotten

Bean Pod from a Good One

(3 Turns are omitted)

16. Beto:

((Beto notices a bean pod in the wastebasket,

takes it out and sits down to try and shell it, but

fails in his attempt))

17. Beto ! Grandmother: ((Then he holds out his hand and shows it to his


18. Grandmother ! Beto: ((The grandmother takes the bean pod to

shell it))

19. Beto ! Grandmother: ((The boy smiles at the sight of his grandmother

shelling the bean pod))

20. Grandmother ! Beto: ((The grandmother sees that it is rotten and

shows this to Beto)),

av-i ¼ (avil)




21. Beto ! Grandmother: hee-hee-hee ((smile))

22. Grandmother ! Beto: O!, k’o’ xa ((throws the shell in the trash))

“oh, it’s rotten”


23. Beto:

((Beto looks at the pod

that his grandmother

threw into the trash))

24. Grandmother ! Beto: ((The grandmother once again picks up the pod

and puts it in front of Beto, to show him that

the beans are not good))

25. Beto ! Grandmother: ¿ja’?


26. Grandmother ! Beto: "k’o’ xa

" “it’s rotten”

27. ((Grandmother and Beto line up their bodies and face toward the rotten

bean pod that the grandmother is holding)).

28. Grandmother ! Beto: k’o’ xa vi


“look, it’s rotten”


29. Beto ! Grandmother: ((ignoring))

30. Grandmother ! Beto: k’o’ xa

“it’s rotten”

31. Beto ! Grandmother: ((ignoring))

32. Grandmother ! Beto: k’o’ xa:::

“it’s rotten”


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Beto shells the beans imitating his grandmother’s actions. After a couple of

minutes, he notices a bean pod among the hulls in the wastebasket. He picks

it up and tries to shell it (Turn 16), but fails because a rotten bean pod is very

hard to shell. In view of his failure, he asks his grandmother for help. The

grandmother picks up the bean pod and notices it is rotten. She then puts the

pod in front of Beto (Turn 20) for him to look at closely, and explains that it

is rotten, before tossing it into the wastebasket (Turn 22). Beto looks at the

pod in the wastebasket (Turn 23). When she realizes this, the grandmother

picks up the bean pod again, puts it in Beto’s view for him to notice that it is

rotten. The boy responds with a vocalization that sounds like a question

(Turn 24), which prompts a series of repetitions from the grandmother,

who tries to make Beto understand that the pod was tossed because of its

bad, “rotten” state.

We can see how Beto’s initiative to “help” and “pitch in to” the activity

performed by his grandmother triggers a series of explanations during the

activity so that Beto learns to distinguish a good bean pod from a rotten one.

Fragment 3 shows how the grandmother helps Beto realize an essential

aspect of bean shelling, which is that the beans are not be thrown away, only

the hulls. The grandmother’s explanation was a result of the boy’s mistake

during his collaboration in the activity.

3.2.3 Fragment 3. The Grandmother Helps Beto Realize That Only the

Hulls Are Thrown Away

33. Beto:

((Takes a handful of beans and throws them into

the wastebasket))

34. Grandmother ! Beto: mu xa jop

“stop taking them (handfuls)”

35. Beto ! Grandmother: ((Beto continues to place handfuls of bean pods

into the wastebasket)).

36. Grandmother ! Beto: ((The grandmother takes the bean pods from

the boy’s hand))

mo’oj xa li sat, mo’oj

“not the beans, don’t (throw them away)”

(5 Turns are omitted)

42. Beto:

((Continues putting beans in the wastebasket))

43. Grandmother ! Beto: mo’oj xa me sat-e

“I told you, not the beans”

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Fragment 4. Final Process in the Activity (Hanging the Sweater)

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