Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Farm market

We have some great photos of the fresh food farm market that was up and running at Freedom Market all summer that I want to share. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Running steadily

For this week, received news from the AERA. Unfortunately, our proposal was not accepted. Good news is that Dr. Larson's literacy paper was accepted. We will be progressing together to analyze some data focused on her paper. Her paper is connected with the neighborhood literacy practices. My understanding of literacy practices is through different ways to read and understand the neighborhood. Dr. Larson delivered the news from the dean and the president that the university wishes to work with one of the city schools to have after-school programs. The community members pointed out several reasons we did not take into consideration. First, after school programs have been ineffective because we are not able to fully work with students through the course of their school day. However, due to political reasons such as the union contract, the city government would not the programs to intervene with the school day. The term "resources" from the university is vague. It seems that the university is not contributing any monetary resources but is showing its advocacy through physical resources. However, how to allocate resources to match specific needs of the neighborhood and how to structure the resources need more complicated planning. Thirdly, the relationship between the University of Rochester and one particular city school has to be long-term and comprehensively planned. Otherwise, future partnerships between the university and city schools could be compromised. As a research assistant, I am learning research methods and theories. However, I do believe that gaining comprehensive knowledge of the neighborhood as well as the city government is very necessary. It is not to say that I am naive, but having awareness of the context is valuable. The voice from the neighborhood will guide our direction. 

These two weeks the store has been running steadily. It is great to see so many school students who feel free to hang out in the store. I do believe that conversations between Wallace and many students can be called literacy practices. Wallace would ask every students who walk into the store "what did you learn from school today?". Most of them would answer short words such as, "everything!", or "nothing", or "math". Then, Wallace would push them further to expand on their literacy expression. He would say, "Tell me more about it", "give me one example", "which kind of math did you learn?". He would also provide them context to express more, such as giving them math problems, ask them their current grade level which will provide more information about their learning and context. Usually, this conversation goes around for at least five minutes. Children either independently solve problems, or with the assistance from Wallace. The all would be encouraged with the sweets as their reward at the end. I believe this is the most commonly occurring literacy in the store, which is not school based, but learning concerned. I hope to read more theories about these literacy practices. 
From Archer Wu

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Hard work

Collaborative participatory action research is hard work, really hard work. It's all too easy to slip into a university researcher head and think alone. But, we are working hard to continue to analyze data collaboratively.

Our community partners have pushed back a bit in terms of observations and getting to know "us". They pointed out that we had done all our work in "their" space and they hadn't come to "our" spaces. While they are getting to know us through our field notes, coming to our spaces has become crucial. First, Joanne invited the research team to her house and we decided that we'd share a meal while meeting. It worked out wonderfully - breaking bread together proved to be extraordinarily productive in terms of building trust and deepening our relationships. However, while we had awesome conversations, our data analysis went by the wayside. As a result, we've decided to meet at the NEAD office most times and share a meal at someone's house once a month.

There's an article on research methods in here somewhere.