At the start of the new year (January 11, 2008), I was pleased to welcome to our campus the teachers, parents, and 6th grade students participating in my Arts and Sciences seed grant funded research “Portraits of San Sebastián: The Production of Digital Bilingual Narratives in La Escuela Nueva Elemental Urbana for a digital photography workshop with the Oficina de Prensa. This activity was reported on our institution’s homepage and is archived at http://www.uprm.edu/news/articles/as2008010.html
Below are the students at our Portico after a long, but productive day of workshops, picture-taking, and adventuring about the campus.
The day after this event, Saturday, January 12th, I headed to San Sebastián myself to document, with my undergraduate jornal, Ms. Lady Arce, and my graduate research assistant, Ms. Karrieann Soto Vega, the preparation of a carroza (or parade float) for the Festival de la Novilla. This festival is named for the annual presentation of a rather coquettish calf that is dressed and made up to the nines, adorned with garlands of flowers, and paraded through the streets with painted hooves (after all of this pomp and circumstance, she is later raffled off in a lottery to raise funds for educational scholarships for local women). The novilla, and other iconic figures represented in this festival will be the topic of a digital bilingual book currently being designed and produced by the above-mentioned 6th graders.
Finally, on Sunday, I spent an exhilerating, yet exhausting day, at the Festival de la Novilla enthusiastically shooting photos of just about everything…though I was particularly biased toward the carroza production of Don Ramito, who has been participating in the Festival de la Novilla since its founding 31 years ago, and who is the grandfather of one of my 6th graders, Orlando Cruz Cardona. Below is Don Ramito with his grandson enacting “El Santiguador”, (a traditional healer/medicine wo/man in Puerto Rico).
I was thankful for our Eugenio María de Hostos holiday on Monday, January 14th, for I surely needed it to rest and recover, not to mention to prepare related proposals for the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), the American Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies (AAACS), the Puerto Rican Studies Association (PRSA), and the Nuevos Talleres Internacionales de Estudios Regionales (New International Workshops on Regional Studies). Not that all of this was accomplished in one day, but it was begun! And, on this day, another pertinent seed of inspiration was sown…I decided to take the 29 graduate students currently enrolled in the Foundations of English Education (EING 6005) to the Museo Eugenio María de Hostos in “nearby” Rio Cañas, Mayagüez, to consider the major contributions of this prominent Puerto Rican prócer to educational philosophy in the Caribbean specifically and Latin America more generally. This trip took place on Sunday, February 24th, 2008, with an engaging walking (and talking) tour generously provided by Director María Matos Viera.
The next day, the Rio Cañas road trip was followed by the visit of guest speaker, Lcdo. Eduardo Villanueva, former professor at the Eugenio María de Hostos Law School in Mayagüez, to EING 6005 to discuss the significant contributions of de Hostos to educational philosophy and the important ways in which teachers might contribute to recovering his often forgotten legacy in Puerto Rico.
Backtracking somewhat, on February 8th, I attended the Blogfesor@s conference at the Holiday Inn in Mayagüez, adding a number of valuable blogspots to my “favorites” in the process and finally setting up various RSS feeds, a practice Prof. Leo Flores has frequently encouraged us to adopt to ease congestion (and frequent tapones) in our constant traveling of the Internet. In that month, I was also honored to participate in two of the presentations in the guest speaker research series – including that of Dr. Cathy Mazak – coordinated by Dr. Jocelyn Géliga Vargas as a component of her research methods course for graduate students.
In relation to issues of research, I also submitted a research release time proposal for the upcoming Fall 2008 semester, “Cultivating New Literacies in Schools and Communities: An Interdisciplinary Study of Language, Science, Social Studies, and Technology in Rural Puerto Rico” and my proposal for AAACS, “The Production of Digital Narratives in Rural Puerto Rico: Technological Panoramas, Prospects, and Im/Possibilities in “English” Education” was accepted for presentation in March in New York City. With a cohort of former colleagues and peers from Teachers College, Columbia University, I will also be presenting “Writing Contingently: Negotiating Intersubjective Curriculum Narratives as Autobiographical Text” and “(Dis)Located Narratives: Membraneous Lines of Autobiographical Narrative and Transnational Inquiry” at AAACS and the American Educational Research Association (AERA) respectively (these two conferences always conveniently overlap, so if any of you are interested in maximizing those travel fund requests…).
…And back to issues of teaching, on January 10th, as Course Coordinator for INGL 3103/3104, I joined our committee members in welcoming four new graduate students and teaching assistants to our ranks: Emily Aguilo, Judy Flores, Nora Falvey, and Robert Haithcock. At our next meeting, it was my pleasure to invite guest speaker, Dr. Darnyd Ortiz, to conduct a workshop on “Using Drama as a Resource in the Classroom”. Darnyd promptly propelled everyone on to the stage of Chardón’s Teatrito, engaged us in a number of warm up activities, then put TAs, Wi Hong Ng and María Quintero, to the test with some improvisational acting (both met the challenge with great effect, much to the amusement of the audience). Blanca Doreste and Monica Ng then amused us immensely with their oral rendition of the short play Sure Thing by David Ives. Warm thanks to Darnyd who inspired a number of subsequent lesson plans, including those of new graduate student, Judy Flores, whose 3104 students enthusiastically acted out Oedipus the King in the following week, and my own, who similarly acted out portions of Act I, Scene II of Othello. 3104 faculty and TAs also recently submitted their pre-assessment documents documenting students’ strengths and weaknesses in relation to MLA documentation. Post assessment will occur shortly with students’ research-based essays.