Research Process and Findings
      by Ashley Grisso  



This chapter is organized by chronology. I focus on the CBBC students at Everett Middle School more extensively than the YWCA girls of Horace Mann Academic Middle School because I spent more time with the CBBC girls and they were more willing to share their thoughts and feelings with me. The YWCA girls are older and were sometimes more thoughtful about questions posed. Their reactions and responses to similar lesson plans and the same audio-visual materials are woven together to more fully develop the picture of my experience of the sense making process of the girls. Although I primarily focus on the CBBC students at Everett, I sometimes also report on the experiences of the girls in the YWCA program setting.

This chapter first introduces the CBBC students. As the programs' lesson plans dovetail more closely, I introduce the YWCA students. More formal media literacy lessons were taught at the YWCA program because the program was offered in a traditional classroom environment. The students saw me in the middle of their school day, contributing to a more conventional class time parameter with an accustomed teacher/student reciprocity already established. Unfortunately, despite better access to camera equipment, there was less opportunity (due to time and space limitations) for the YWCA students to construct a music video storyboard and choreography. In the CBBC program at Everett, I learned more about the students' feelings and thoughts about feminine gender roles from analyzing their behavior, particularly as they acted out while dancing and discussing storyboard ideas. This consideration convinced me to more fully focus CBBC girls.       

Class One

The first day of Breakin’ It Down: Girls and Music Videos I arrived early to CBBC at Everett Middle School to ensure my equipment, a television and VCR, were available. Though I had been promised a large private classroom, it was not available. I set up in a cubicle that had a large table in the middle and some chairs. Computer stations ringed the space and many of CBBC staff members could hear us from the other side of the partitions. Prior to the students' arrival, the director, Victor, introduced me to the security people. These folks are beloved by the students. Robin, a member of security, was instrumental in directing girls to my group.

I chose to show several videos to entice students to join: two were music videos, one by Maggie Estep called "Hey Baby," the other from Queen Latifah's "Ladies First." Both were included in the scholarly offering called Ladies First by Robin Roberts that emphasized the feminist potential of music videos. "Hey Baby" is a direct, albeit humorous, anti-sexual harassment performance. "Ladies First" is a powerful pro-Africa, pro-African American and pro-African American woman performance. I showed two videos from the TILT (Teaching Intermedia Literacy Tools) library, including: "Stereotypes" and "Kissin and Dissin." "Stereotypes" was created and performed by one African-American teenage girl who likes metal music and a European-American teenage girl who likes rap. "Kissin and Dissin" is an experimental narrative video that explores gender roles in romantic relationships.

The video choices were well received by the students. There was not much dialogue, but the girls were rapt in their attention and wanted to see more. Jasmyn and Shawnda discussed Queen Latifah's video between themselves. (All names are changed to protect the anonymity of participants. Any similarity with names of actual students at Everett Middle School or Horace Mann Academic Middle School is purely coincidental. The designation of ethnic identity was made because each participant self-identified her ethnicity.) The students who attended the day of recruitment signed up and discussed music and dancing.

Dawn was first to sign up. Queen Latifah mesmerized her. Dawn is a self-contained African-American girl aged 11. She is neatly attired and serious. The After-School Tutorial program leader referred her and Dawn arrived promptly when the program began. Dawn's only hesitation, and it was an important one, was that she might not get all of her homework done if she participated. Ho, a small, 11-year-old Chinese-American girl, was the second person to sign up. She and Dawn are friends. Ho came because of Jen Retenouer's encouragement. A Latina student who was caring for her younger sister was interested, but never returned. Jasmyn arrived late, but made her presence known. An attractive, confident Latina and certain leader, she commanded respect from all of her peers. Shawnda burst in a flourish trailing Jasmyn. Shawnda is an outspoken sixth grade African-American girl with a big heart and confident air. Jasmyn and Shawnda are friends; they spoke loudly and intimately to one another across the table, deciding which music to request.

We had a rousing discussion in regards to what musical selection the group wanted to use in order to create their music video. The girls requested in unison music by Christina Aguilera. Ho suggested Britney Spears; Dawn, Shawnda and Jasmyn wanted Destiny's Child, Jasmyn wrote on my list, Jennifer Lopez and Missy Elliott plus several controversial male rap singers and groups. I limited them to female singers or groups. I explained my desire for them to understand the music video program as a chance for them to speak their truth as girls with their own voice. Shawnda and Jasmyn wanted to dance.

I sent them home with consent forms and a promise of pizza the following week when they returned them. Victor and another bystander complimented me on a job well done and gave me positive feedback as to my choice of videos. I was relieved and excited. After a month of hustling and soliciting possible sponsors and locations, my project finally found a home.

Class Four

This was an important day in the CBBC music video program. Four girls joined Ho and Dawn and a new energy was created. Shawnda and Jasmyn returned and Angela and Mariana asked if they could join. There was great excitement in the air. Angela and Mariana had been performing in a play with Jasmyn. They were motivated by the experience and felt this program would engage them and give them an opportunity to perform more. Angela is a Latina sixth grader with big eyes and long black hair. Mariana, also in the sixth grade, aged 11, is a tall, thin Latina with a lovely smile. She has much energy and enthusiasm and is a willing "team player." Mariana and Angela came into together and pleaded to be allowed to join. I was thrilled to have them. I asked how they had found out about Breakin’ It Down. They said they had heard about the program and thought it would be fun. A group galvanized. Everyone was ready to dance.

There was electricity in the air. All the girls but Shawnda wore honor roll ribbons. There had been a big ceremony for Horace Mann and Everett's Latino honor roll recipients earlier in the day at Everett's large auditorium. Several of the girls had a 4.0 grade point average. Dawn and Ho were quick to tell me that they, too, were honor roll recipients. Jasmyn was beside herself and gloated that Everett was the most "ghetto" school, more so than Horace Mann. Dawn was appalled by that description and retorted with a huff, "Do you know what that means?" Jasmyn was nonplussed. She replied something to the effect that "I grew up in this neighborhood and it's the ghetto. I'm proud of that." Dawn turned away. This exchange informed my decisions for next week's class.

The next week I had planned to present Christina Aguilera's "What a Girl Wants" and break it down, but decided that a quorum of girls had formed and the momentum was there to begin to choreograph a dance routine. We looked at the video and spoke about it informally before they began to dance. As the video was cueing up, there was an advertisement for Spring Break on MTV. The advertisement showed a hairy man, lying on his stomach getting the hair on his back removed. It was painful and he was screaming, then asking for more. It was not immediately clear why he was screaming. One girl asked what was going on. I suggested that they "wait and see." Jasmyn guessed S & M. I realized that she was more sophisticated in regards to sexual jargon and probably knowledge than Ho or Dawn seemed to be. A different group dynamic was beginning.

We gathered around the television and watched "What a Girl Wants." The video begins with a dance hall full of teenagers. One boy approaches another and says, "Your girl's here," and then he pulls the boy to his feet. Christina confidently saunters in with a large group of female teenagers. Christina has on very tight black leather pants, a light blue T-shirt with sparkles and a light brown studded leather jacket. The T-shirt is skin-tight and cut to show her midriff far below her belly button. Her shoulder length blonde hair occasionally falls across her face. She is heavily made up with thick blue eye shadow, mascara and eyeliner. She coos to the boy, "I've got something for you." The attractive Caucasian boy, in a brown leather jacket with fringe, is excited and attentive, "Whatchu got?" Christina puts her finger to his lips and pulls him to the couch and physically pushes him down to sit and says, "Close your eyes." She struts away and looks over her shoulder seductively. He is looking through his fingers at her. She purrs, "unh, unh." Then Christina and the gaggle of girls begin a dance routine for the boys who have gathered around Christina's beau. Christina sings, "What a girl wants, what a girl needs." The lyrics basically thank the boy for giving her time to breathe and determine what she needed to do to, "get it together." She looked at other boys, but did not touch. She croons about a picture of herself and the boy she sings to that she has in her heart as she exclaims that now she has come back to him. She is thanking her boyfriend for being patient and giving her what she needs. She moves over to the couch, hold his hand and strokes his wrist, then sits down in his lap. The boy is beaming. The she salaciously moves in close to him and says seductively, "What I want is what you got. And what you got is what I want." These lyrics are not included in the CD liner notes, nor can they be found with the music online. The image of her on the couch is cut with close-ups of her face as she sings.

The video continues with Christina singing a verse on top of a bank stereo speakers. This shot cuts back and forth from her singing and dancing with her girlfriends for the boys. Twice she thanks the boy for knowing her better than she knows herself. These lyrics also do not appear in the liner notes or online. For another verse, she and her ladies in waiting are dressed in period Romantic costumes, complete with white face powder and pantaloons. Christina is reclining with a large blonde wig and a crown. This verse is a sweet, higher-pitched part of the melody. Christina is supine and seemingly receptive as we view her from above. She teases us by pulling up her long skirt and showing us "some leg;" her tongue touches her upper lip to complete the flirtatious pose of the precious princess, sexy and ready. The chorus is sung twice while the gang of girls performs and the boys dance in place in response from their position as spectators. The video closes as Christina's love interest gets up to put his arms around her. Safely in her "man's arms," she sings to him again thanking him for being there for her.

The girls love this music video. I make a mental note to modify my planned questions. This music video is one that these girls like very much and with which they strongly identify. I will proceed with caution.

The idea of creating an alternative music video is TILT program objective. I began teaching the group of YWCA girls at Horace Mann earlier on this day. In my introduction there, I had encouraged the girls to use their own voices to create whatever messages they chose. My collaborator Molly and I were there to facilitate the girls in their vision. They could use the melody of a song and create their own lyrics. They could write their own song. They could create a visual satire of a recorded song; the options had no limit. With those thoughts fresh in my mind and new members involved with the CBBC group at Everett, I reiterated the message encouraging originality.

It became quickly apparent that these girls had little interest in challenging the status quo. I would suggest that probably most girls this age, 11 to 12, would begin the same way. I did my best to steer them toward personal material, but from a practical standpoint with only five classes left and little access to a video camera, there was limited time and few resources to create more than a Karaoke music video. My disappointment in recognizing this reality will help me to hone my curriculum to better prepare to lead students to original material earlier in the process and to determine tools that will make it more feasible. As I knew before I began, access to a video camera and editing instruction will deepen the experience for students. In the program located at Horace Mann, I worked with a co-teacher, Molly Tascone, who had video expertise and could provide instruction to those students. Editing requires a different level of instruction and access to sophisticated computer software and hardware.

Despite my disappointment, the girls were quite clear and enthusiastic that they wanted to create a dance number to a popular song. The only question was which song. They listened to Christina Aguilera's "What a Girl Wants" and quickly ruled it out, but not before Jasmyn suggestively slinks up to a couch in our meeting room and provocatively pretends to seduce an imagined boy. She wants to perform for boys. I remind her that this is a girls music video program and that I want to give them a chance to create something for themselves. Next, the battle of the songs by Destiny's Child proceeds. The two top choices are "Say My Name" and "Bugaboo." The group likes "Bugaboo" better, but Jasmyn does not want to use any song that "disses boys" and "Bugaboo" does just that. Jasmyn, the definitive leader, prevails.

Jasmyn begins to choreograph a number. The group willingly follows. She and Angela will dance together in front. Shawnda and Mariana are in the middle; Ho and Dawn are in the back. Ho is nervous, but attentively watches. Jasmyn is an effective coach; she quickly creates dance steps. As tentative as Dawn was before, she falls in to the groove and easily catches on and she helps Ho. Shawnda has the best rhythm and knows most of the moves the minute Jasmyn mentions them. She has names for nearly all the dance steps and the girls know her lingo. The girls practice until 5 o'clock. We are all excited and leave on a high.

Class Five

In response to the conversation regarding Everett being the most "ghetto" school, I borrowed a video from the TILT library called "South Central." This video is made by high school students and brings up issues around class, gender and neighborhood stereotypes regarding South Central Los Angeles. The students in the video discuss and show clips from Hollywood movies that portray South Central in a poor light. There are a group of young women who appear to be culturally Latina who discuss how they are offended and angry by the depiction of women in South Central as only being whores, welfare mothers and crack addicts.

The day was not going well when I arrived at CBBC. Earlier at Horace Mann the YWCA representative failed to bring the "boom box," so my planned lesson suffered. In my rush to vacate the borrowed classroom, I left the folder, which included the students' signed consent forms, with my paperwork in the classroom. I realized my gaffe at the beginning of the CBBC class. I used my cell phone to contact the Capp Street YWCA Director to request that she look for and retrieve my folder. She was helpful and called back 20 minutes later to say she had found it and I could pick it up after teaching that day. The students were patient during this confusion. Shawnda showed her cell phone to me after seeing me use mine. It was a fancy red phone. The other girls held it and admired it and held mine before I put it away.

When it was time to show the video, there were technical difficulties and the sound did not work. I have two copies of the same video and the one I watched to determine that I wanted to use the piece was not the one I brought to show the CBBC students. Without the video, I had no real tactic for continuing the dialogue. Dawn denied being concerned about the concept of Everett being a "ghetto school." In frustration, I abandoned my lesson plan.

By now the students were out of sorts. They had worked well together the week before and they had all returned, but the energy of the group dynamic was quite different today. The girls had a hard time settling down. They were running in and out of the room. This was not unusual. There is a period between 3:15 to 3:45 during which the girls leave school, get a snack and run around before they are ready to concentrate on Breakin' It Down. I am sure my distraction helped to fuel the general sense of confusion that was now in full swing. I finally gathered everyone in the room and they were beginning to practice. I showed them some video cuts of other teenagers who had created Karoake music videos. The girls were still undecided about which song to use. The choreography remained the same regardless of the selection.

Shawnda broke from the group, pouted in a chair and I asked what was wrong. She said someone had taken her cell phone. I did not believe that was possible. I had been in the room the whole time. Shawnda was one of the girls who had run out earlier to the hall to join a group of her friends who were not in the program. I thought she probably left her cell phone somewhere as she was running about. After a while, she got up and danced with the group. They all practiced a bit. As the class came to an end Shawnda angrily began to gather her things. Jasmyn addressed the group and commanded them to help search for Shawnda's phone. Shawnda stormed out to join her friends who were cruising the hall. Jasmyn and Angela were giggling when they "found" the phone in the bookshelves. I was furious. I finally realized what had happened. I demanded the phone be given to me so that I could return it to Shawnda. Jasmyn assured me that she would return it and I agreed because this was a rift she needed to mend. I thought the incident was over.

I packed up the TV and VCR to return  them to the CBBC office. When I arrived, Jasmyn and Angela were standing at the CBBC office phone. Jasmyn was loudly and melodramatically pronouncing to everyone in earshot something to the effect, "Georgia and them said we stole Shawnda's cell phone and I didn't steal anyone's cell phone . . . ." I approached Jasmyn and calmly asked if she had returned Shawnda's cell phone. She assured me that she had and continued with her histrionic defense. I asked her how the cell phone had gotten from Shawnda's bag to the bookshelf. Jasmyn responded, but she knew that I finally understood what had really happened. I knew she was lying and she knew that I knew she was lying. I let it go; Shawnda had her phone back. Angela volunteered that she was calling her dad to pick her up. Again, I thought the incident was over. I was anxious to retrieve my misplaced paperwork and start again next week.

Many people, including other program teachers, had overheard Jasmyn. Some had heard our exchange. I had been calm and kept my voice low, but nevertheless, this incident did not reflect well upon my ability to manage a group of teenagers. I was discouraged and embarrassed. As I quickly left the building I saw a large group of African-American kids milling around outside the front door of the building. Some of these girls were in the group that had been loitering in the halls with Shawnda earlier. As I walked across the Mission to the YWCA, I realized that the young people outside were gathered to perhaps retaliate for Shawnda's perceived betrayal. This is why Angela had called her dad.

I had really handled this situation badly. I had not believed Shawnda when she told me that her phone had been taken. I had not asked the other students about it, giving them an opportunity to confess to their prank or otherwise flush out the phone. I had not recognized Angela's fear about leaving the building without adult supervision. (There were many security people in the vicinity and other adults. The students were openly "hanging out" in front of the building. I was comforted that no serious harm was threatened.) Perhaps, most important, I had been unaware of how quickly an incident like this had become enormously important to 6th and 7th graders. After further reflection, I was deeply saddened by how quickly an inter-racial group of girls who liked one another could "fall out" along classically racial lines. All of this over a little red cell phone. I owed Shawnda an apology.

Class Six

This week at Horace Mann and at Everett I taught the most formal media literacy lesson entitled "Media Are Constructions." Through feedback in my various SFSU support structures, I was encouraged to incorporate a more overt and thorough introduction for the students as to why I created the program, Breakin' It Down, that the students were attending. Therefore, I described for my life-long interest in popular music and now music videos. I suggested that watching music videos gave me ideas about being female. I told the students in both classes that I wanted to know how they feel . . . about music videos, about how they see females being portrayed and about gender stereotypes. There are no right or wrong feelings, thoughts or answers.

The concepts I introduced and intended for the students to understand were:

A. Music Video: An advertisement for music companies to sell music (CDs) and performers on their label. Record labels pay for the creation of music videos

B. Gender: Female or male

C. Stereotype: A fixed or conventional concept of a person, group idea, held by a number of people that leaves no room for individuality or critical judgement. Examples: Sex roles, race, class

D. Representation: To serve as a sign, symbol or image; to depict or typify

E. Product or commodity: Anything bought and sold

F. Audience: The viewing or listening public; those who are targeted by advertisements or media programming

This vocabulary served to structure my presentation to the students. Before presenting the media texts, I introduced the concept that "media constructions help to influence our idea of reality," as asserted in the Social Construction of Reality Theory of Berger and Luckmann (1967). Due to dialogue with and insight from my collaborator and co-teacher at Horace Mann, Molly Tascone, I began the conversation by asking students questions about what they thought was "real" in music videos. I was not able to successfully capitalize on the opportunities the students afforded through their efforts to define what was real and was not real. In the future, I will need to prepare better examples to illustrate my thinking and think on my feet more quickly to respond to students' striving to articulate their making sense of media. I am convinced that the potential for learning derived from this line of questioning is powerful.

The text I used to illustrate how music videos are constructed is a program from MTV called Behind the Scenes. The specific program I chose focused on Jennifer Lopez and the details of how the video "Waiting for Tonight" was created. Jennifer Lopez is an artist with whom the girls in each group are familiar and each group had requested to hear her latest CD, On the 6, as a possible resource for their music videos. Also, there had been much recent controversy about the revealing dress Jennifer Lopez had chosen to wear to the Grammy Awards. Lopez is a performer who, by her personal style, clothing choices and displays of overt sexuality, pushes the envelope of what is considered good taste in middle class USA. Despite or perhaps because of her evocative image, she maintains a pop star status.

In the Behind the Scenes interview, Lopez was asked how she came up with the idea for the music video, "Waiting for Tonight," in which she sings and stars. She responded that she had no idea what she wanted to do. Francis Lawrence, the director, created the premise of a millennium party in the jungle. It is clearly demonstrated through Lopez's words and the footage shown of "Waiting for Tonight" being shot on Behind the Scenes that the director envisioned the visual story and that he orchestrated how Lopez performed. This video was not an expression of her sexual or creative subjectivity.

The specific text used to deconstruct music video is the remix of Lopez's latest hit "Waiting for Tonight" combined with "Una Noche Mas." The lyrics are bilingual: English and Spanish. Lasers are used to create excitement and tension around the video version of the countdown to the year 2000. Using lasers is dangerous and reveals the lengths creators of music videos go to dazzle their audience. The limited narrative plot enacted begins with a friend joining Lopez in her tropical bedroom paradise. From there they go to a party in the jungle together. Attractive men eye them; they giggle and they return the gazes. Then all the partygoers move on to an enormous happening with lasers pointing to the sky toward a giant extraterrestrial marquis that announces the dawning of a new age. The short narrative subplot is pieced through a seemingly never-ending stream of seductive images of Lopez in multiple sexy outfits and postures. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of poses that Lopez strikes that are spliced together in a rapid montage to comprise the bulk of the visual story. Lopez has long hair and in some sequences it seems that she is "selling shampoo." In another sequence she is seen gyrating in a natural stream and rises up out of the clear water that is reminiscent of how face-cleaning products are sold. Jennifer Lopez is selling Jennifer Lopez throughout.

The girls are silent and attentive as we watch the interview and video clip. The combination of these two texts set up the dialogue about who makes or constructs videos. In the Lopez case the unmistakable implication is that the singer is an actor in someone else's story. I asked if the video might have been different if it had been directed by a woman, rather than by a man. Joyce, a Latina and voracious music video viewer from the Horace Mann location quickly said, "No." With this dismissal, I was unable to develop this line of thinking with the group.

However, the conversation gave me an entry to ask questions about who pays for music videos. The 8th graders at Horace Mann assumed that the artists who star in the videos pay for them. This gave me an opportunity to explain the mechanics of how record companies pay for music videos because the videos serve as advertisements for CDs and, more significantly, they promote the record labels' long-term investment or commodity, the artist or band. I did not know what impact this new information had on any of the students, but they seemed to hear it and gave it some thought.

When I asked students if they liked the video, the 8th graders said they liked it, but did not elaborate. The 6th graders at Everett said things, such as, "I like her music, but she is nasty," or simply, "She is nasty." Mariana said, "I like her music, but it is sorta’ like pornography." The 6th graders were uncomfortable with the conversation. They wanted to change the subject. The 8th graders wanted to see more clips.

We gathered more informally around the TV and I showed the 8th graders a clip of another Jennifer Lopez song, "Baila" from the soundtrack Music of the Heart. In "Baila" (Baila is slang for dancing or danceable in Spanish.) Lopez is scantily clad and wears many different garments, one of which is sheer and suggests a lingerie feeling. From my view, this performance is the most erotic of those that I presented during this lesson. Some of the shots included Lopez silhouetted in a sheer, short-short "baby doll" frock where her bikini panties can be seen underneath and she wears high-heeled strappy sandals. She sings provocatively into an old-fashioned 1930's radio show type microphone, "Let's break all the rules, come on baby me and you."

I also showed the end of a musical number that was performed live where Lopez danced energetically with a group of beautiful young men and women. Here Lopez's costume is silver lame. The skirt is very short with slits on either side and the top has only a few strings across the back and it exposed her midriff. When she dances her buttocks show. The girls were taken aback. Cortland, a modest 14-year-old African-American girl who was considered the best dancer by her peers says something to the effect that, "Her rear-end is completely showing!" I wanted the conversation to unfold, but the 8th graders remained reticent.

In the Horace Mann class, the YWCA girls looked at music to determine what songs they might use for their performance. During this informal period, more comments about Jennifer Lopez were offered in conversations among themselves and with Molly and me. One girl said to another something along the lines of, "She's okay, but she thinks she is more American than Latin." Another visiting 6th grade girl at Horace Mann said, "She's hella nasty . . . she wears dresses so short, they show her cooch."

Class Eight

Jasmyn and Shawnda are back on the same day. Jasmyn knows that we did videotaping while she was away. She is particularly melodramatic today as she throws herself about, sighing heavily. She moves to different areas of the room as if searching for a place of comfort. Angela seems almost afraid of her. Angela watches Jasmyn from afar, but says nothing to her and seems intimidated by the obvious display of emotion. Angela tells me that she feels sorry for Jasmyn because her dad will not let her see her mom anymore. Jasmyn seems to want privacy and community at the same time. At one point she puts her head in her hands and cries. I go to her and ask her what is wrong and try to comfort her. She says something to the effect that she will miss her mom. Then she runs to another corner to cry. I tell her that I am sorry she is suffering and that I wish there was something I could say and I trail off. Admiringly, Angela says, "You did say something." I continue loud enough for Jasmyn to hear, " I wish I knew what to say that could make her feel better."

Jasmyn snaps out of her melancholy and joins the group. She and Shawnda seem to be on friendly terms today. As is usual, everyone is talking loudly over the music cranked to a high decibel. As I prepare the video for the day's lesson, I can hear little of what is being said. I am mentally reviewing the questions that I have prepared to lead the discussion for the Christina Aguilera music video, "What a Girl Wants." Although both groups prefer to dance to Destiny's Child, Aguilera is a performer whom they admire who presents herself as a teenager. The lyrics of her music and the content of her video appeal directly to an adolescent audience. I feel it deserves a more serious reading than the quick, informal look previously discussed.

Jasmyn suddenly, flies out of the room in a huff, slamming the door. The girls do not follow her and are not visibly upset by her actions. I do not pursue her. She is very volatile and I figure that she will return once she has cooled off. Her problems are bigger than the group dynamics of Breakin’ It Down. None of the girls go very far when they roam the halls. Security is everywhere, so I know she is safe. Jasmyn is a regular CBBC participant and often goes into the Center to visit with other teachers and staff members.

I show "What a Girl Wants." We are just about to launch into the deconstruction process when Jasmyn and Victor, the director of CBBC, enter. A hush falls over the room. Fortunately, the girls are standing together rather calmly after viewing the video. Jasmyn has tattled. I am not sure how she has claimed to be "wronged." She is visibly upset and Victor is annoyed. He asks open-ended questions to the group. I respect his choice to ask the girls, rather than me, about the problem/situation. I listen as the girls begin to "hash out" their differences. Jasmyn asserts her desire to have her part as a solo or duet performer returned to her. The others are not happy about that proposition. They have modified the dance to include everyone and they do not want to relinquish their choreography or equality. Things get heated. Jasmyn is emotional. Victor understands that Jasmyn has not been mistreated. I ask the girls if they want Jasmyn to return. They are reluctantly willing, but they have found strength as a group to withstand her influence. Their solidarity is palpable. Victor and I negotiate with Jasmyn to compromise and participate as a "team player." She is irrational and angry. Shawnda speaks for the group when she says that they do not want Jasmyn "bossing them around" so much. Victor asks Jasmyn to sit out for the day.

The girls are wild after this interruption. I try to lead a discussion about Aguilera's music video, but the girls cannot settle down. They are rehashing the confrontation, reliving their conversation several times. Camaraderie and empowerment further energize them, and many pent-up feelings about Jasmyn's leadership spill out. Jasmyn is in 7th grade; they are in 6th grade, but that doesn't mean she can "boss them around." She does not have to make all the decisions about every dance move, etc. I knew nothing of their frustrations. They had seemed to willingly follow Jasmyn's rule. These confessions caused me to reflect on how to better lay ground rules for peer decision-making.

On that day, two groups had booked our classroom. We were asked to move to the cafeteria. I agreed. The girls could dance in a large space and there was no going back to deconstructing "What a Girl Wants." The move gave the girls more stimulation. It was all I could do to keep them in the large cafeteria. Boys on the playground threw apple cores in the windows. The girls threw them back. It was bedlam. I relaxed into it. There was no teaching today; this was classroom management, period.

By observing the girls in this setting an interesting thing happened. I saw Shawnda walk up to a support column and "pretend to hump it." The girls all laughed. Not two minutes later, she and Angela were "pretending to grunt on a toilet." This swing from adult behavior to child's behavior in such a brief period of time epitomized to me the challenge facing these 6th grade girls. They are betwixt and between. They are little girls one minute and sexualized pre-adolescents the next. What a difficult place to navigate!

Jasmyn "cruised the halls" after leaving the program with the unorganized group that "hung out" after school. They peered in the windows several times. The girls were friendly and responsive to her. By the end of the class, Mariana tells me remorsefully that she misses Jasmyn. Mariana had been one of the loudest complainers after Jasmyn was ejected. By the time the class was over, the girls joined Jasmyn in the halls to show her the moves they had concocted in her absence. Another storm blew through with no lasting damage.

        The following is the final chapter of the thesis that considers the implications of my participant-observation as described here.