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Fragment 4. Final Process in the Activity (Hanging the Sweater)
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 ; 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 ). 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
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
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
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)
((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
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”
((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
31. Beto ! Grandmother: ((ignoring))
32. Grandmother ! Beto: k’o’ xa:::
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
((Takes a handful of beans and throws them into
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)
((Continues putting beans in the wastebasket))
43. Grandmother ! Beto: mo’oj xa me sat-e
“I told you, not the beans”