Recent Submissions

  • Aspen Academy: designing a task-based digital role-playing game for teaching ESL vocabulary

    Gilmore, Brianna R.; Martelle, Wendy M.W.; Murakami, Chisato; Siekmann, Sabine (2021-05)
    The field of computer assisted language learning has grown exponentially in the last few decades. Technology is becoming a larger part of our everyday lives and with this comes the rise of digital game-based language learning as well. Research has shown that even digital video games, like Role Playing Games (RPGs), can be used to help learners acquire language. In this project, I designed and created a game that incorporated RPG elements, as well as both a Task Based Language Teaching framework and vocabulary items from the test of English as a foreign language (TOEFL) and International English Language Testing System (IELTS) tests. I reflect on the game design process, additionally, learners of varying English proficiencies played the game and shared their experiences through post-game surveys and interviews. The data shows that RPGs are a promising tool for language learners because of the in-game dialogue as well as opportunities for feedback from non-player characters (NPCs).
  • Elitnaurilleq piciryaramtenek qanemcitgun: a participatory teacher action research study to improve language and literacy instruction in a Yup'ik immersion school

    Samson, Angass'aq Sally; Siekmann, Sabine; Parker-Webster, Joan; Marlow, Patrick; John, Theresa Arevgaq (2023-05)
    Elitnaurilleq Piciryaramtenek Qanemcitgun: A participatory teacher action research study (Teaching our way of life through stories) is participatory action research involving four Yugtun immersion teachers investigating first and second grade Yugtun reading and language instruction through lesson study. Lesson study involves a group of educators collaboratively implementing teacher action research to investigate a problem area in their teaching. The research questions that guided our investigation include: How can teachers' involvement in a Participatory Action Research (a) contribute to their own professional development; (b) improve their language teaching; and (c) generate new strategies for teaching reading based on Yugtun language principles? Data collections included video recordings of our sessions, the journal entries of the participants, and audio recording of the interviews. Data were analyzed using Constructivist Grounded Theory (Charmaz, 2014). Primary categories that emerged were: Selecting vocabulary words; organizing lesson that help students make meaning from text; How and when to teach vocabulary words; Recognizing differences between Yugtun and English morphology in relation to language and literacy instruction. Each of these categories are addressed in terms of a professional development inservice and a workshop series designed to involve teachers in continued lesson study.
  • Collaborative dialogue for Ellangellerkaq and crosslinguistic awareness in third grade Yugtun English bilingual research centers: a teacher action research study

    Moses, Catherine; Siekmann, Sabine; Webster, Joan Parker; Martelle, Wendy; John, Theresa Arevgaq (2023-05)
    Most bilingual programs are built around a clear separation between the two languages used throughout the school day. However, in bilingual research centers (BRCs), a key component of the Gomez and Gomez Dual Language Enrichment model, students can choose which language to use. This is what sparked my interest, because I wanted to understand more clearly how bilingual students use language to problem-solve language issues. My research question is "How do third-grade students use collaborative dialogue in Yugtun and English in bilingual research centers?" This qualitative teacher action research study took place in a Nelson Island, Toksook Bay third-grade dual language classroom. Out of the twelve students, there were nine Yup'ik-first language speakers and three were English-first. I focused on a bilingual group of two Yup'ik-first language speakers and two English-first speakers. The students ranged from low to high proficiency levels in language. Data collection spanned nine months and included video recordings, audio recordings, student artifacts, and field notes. I used video recordings to transcribe students' use of the Yup'ik and English language. First, I identified language-related episodes (Swain, 2000). Then I employed constructive grounded theory (Charmaz, 2014). I found that students more frequently engaged in collaborative dialogue when producing language, for example when writing about what they know or what they have learned. The students' collaborative dialogue while writing often focused on letter-sound correspondences, especially when those differ between the two languages used in the classroom. In talking about language issues, the students are actively engaged in their own learning. All involved students learn something about the language they or others are using. Crosslinguistic awareness, which examines the similarities and differences between two or more languages, emerged as a significant area of focus both for students and also for their teachers. One key recommendation is that bilingual teachers should collaborate with other teachers to create opportunities for students to engage in collaborative dialogue, which has the potential to build students' crosslinguistic awareness. Monolingual and bilingual teachers alike also need to develop crosslinguistic awareness to better understand their students' language production and support language development in both languages. Teacher action research calls one to further action, and that is the action plan. My action plan is to use data and finding from this study during a 3-day teacher inservice for teachers of bilingual students. During the inservice teachers will be invited into an inquiry process by examining selected language-related episodes from this research in order for them to develop crosslinguistic awareness through carefully listening to and observing the learning process of bilingual students.
  • Goals, needs and program implications for adult second language English learners in Fairbanks, Alaska

    Schlichting, Virginia Colleen (2010-05)
    "Adults learning English as a second language face a variety of challenges. This study examines some of those challenges for this population in Fairbanks, AK. Participants were interviewed to better understand their goals for language learning and for other personal aspirations. Four types of goals are identified as well as sub-themes within each goal. From these goals, specific types of needs are determined. Needs focus mainly on written and spoken language proficiency and different competencies required to achieve goals. Finally, suggestions for implementation of programmatic policies and curricula are discussed. However, this analysis is controversial and complicated. Participants were confronted with ideologies, which are present everywhere from daily tasks to the curricula that are geared toward second language learners. In addition, participants' conflicted ideas of identity and their own beliefs about life and language are significant considerations throughout the study"--Leaf iii
  • It's complicated: immigrant parents in Alaska navigating the process of raising bilingual children

    Dosch, Katerina; Sickmann, Sabine; Marlow, Patrick; Martelle, Wendy (2021-05)
    This qualitative study investigates the process of raising bilingual children in Fairbanks, Alaska. The study was guided by an overarching question: Why do some children in bilingual families become bilingual speakers, whereas other children who also have the chance to become bilingual do not? From that, two main research questions have evolved. 1. What are the elements involved in raising bilingual children in Fairbanks, Alaska as reported by the parents? 2. What is the role of a family's place of residence on their children's bilingualism? Data were collected through a socio- demographic questionnaire, semi-structured in-depth interviews, and focus groups. Three rounds of interviews were conducted with each participating family - an initial interview, a follow up interview, and a focus group interview. Seven families participated in the study and only parents were interviewed. These families consisted of either first generation immigrant parents (sharing or not sharing the same native language) or parents in mixed marriages (immigrants married to native- born Americans). Over 19 hours of data were audio recorded, manually transcribed ad verbum, and analyzed. From the method of grounded theory data coding, groups of elements that are involved in the process of raising bilingual children and the development of children's heritage language (HL) emerged, namely: parental and children's HL related actions, factors influencing bilingualism, factors determining bilingualism, and place of residence. The findings suggest that the process of raising bilingual children is positively or negatively influenced and determined by a complex net of interconnected elements. Raising bilingual children, thus, rests on a combination of supportive and detrimental elements, which are in a constant struggle. It seems that the process of raising bilingual children can absorb a certain amount of detrimental elements without collapsing. Considering the elements involved in raising bilingual children, it is not only parents and their actions that play an important role in the process of raising bilingual children. While parents are the instigators of the process, children greatly influence parental actions connected to the transmission of the HL. The findings of this study suggest though, that children and their actions alone do not decide if the process fails or succeeds. Parents seem to be able to mitigate children's detrimental influences (if they exist) through their consistent use of the HL. On the other hand, some parents hinder their own efforts either through their fears, beliefs, or other personal limitations. Finally, based on the data, place of residence does not seem to play a significant role in the process. Some parents are able to raise bilingual children despite living in a place that poses challenges to bilingual families. These parents are able to overcome obstacles through their own efforts and consistency of the HL use.
  • Western Gwich'in classificatory verbs

    Bushey, Scott T.; Tuttle, Siri; Peter, Hishinlai'; Vajda, Edward (2021-05)
    One of the many challenges faced by learners and teachers of Gwich'in, an endangered Athabascan or Dene language of Alaska and Canada, is a lack of instructional material for classificatory verbs. These verbs classify states and actions, such as lie, carry, and fall, by perceived qualities, such as cloth-like and stick-like, that indicate how and with which nominal entities the state or action takes place. For students of Gwich'in and other Dene languages, such as Navajo and Koyukon, classificatory verbs are an important grammar objective when included in the curriculum. Recognition and production of classificatory verbs is a main objective for students in the second year of the UAF Gwich'in class. Classificatory verb words are also present in vocabulary learned from the first year, such as gishreiin'ąįį "it's sunny" and OBJ naltsuu "I'm wearing OBJ [upper-body garment]". In this thesis I present a documentary, descriptive study of classificatory verbs and their qualities in modern spoken Gwich'in. The first goal of the study is to document examples of Gwich'in classificatory verbs in conversational and narrative discourse, and the second is to describe their morphosemantic properties and behavior. The third goal is to accomplish these documentary and descriptive aims in a way that can be adapted readily to the needs of not only linguists, but also Gwich'in language learners and teachers. Informed by previous documentary and descriptive work on classificatory verbs in other Dene languages, I attempt to provide a similarly useful text for Gwich'in, reconciling several competing nomenclatures and illustrating the relationship between classificatory verb theme sets, such as "carry", and semantic classes of verb stems, such as "animate", in a broad range of modal and aspectual contexts. Although this thesis is intended primarily as a reference work for learners and teachers, it also provides a resource for linguists comparing Gwich'in classificatory verbs with those in related Dene languages. The classificatory verb data in this thesis is drawn from a body of Gwich'in class notes and assignments, well as transcribed Gwich'in oral literature and consultation with a native speaker of the language. Classroom instruction took place between 2018 and 2020 at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and emphasized spoken language production with communicative aims. In addition to work from the Gwich'in language classroom, limited native speaker consultation regarding classificatory verbs was also conducted in February 2020. The third data source for this study is the rich body of narrative discourse available in the form of transcribed oral literature. These works record Gwich'in traditional narrative knowledge, lore, and history across a broad range of topics, in which classificatory verbs may be readily encountered and examined. Having drawn from these three pools of data, this thesis describes the morphosemantic qualities of Gwich'in classificatory verbs while considering the available data on other Dene languages and considers actual and potential application of this data in the language classroom.
  • The low back vowel in mid-coast Maine

    Davidson, Gail (2011-05)
    In mid-coast Maine, the words cod and caught sound like they contain the same vowel phoneme, employing the sound [a], a low back vowel. The word father contains a separate contrasting phoneme, spoken as [a], a low central vowel. This paper attempts to show that this perceived similarity in [a] and difference from [a] is in fact real. Unlike in the area of the Northern Cities Chain Shift, where the sound of the vowels in cod, caught and father all approach [a], the vowel in cod and caught in mid coast Maine remains low and back, occasionally rounded, more often not, while that in father is low and central. Twenty-six current speakers of varying ages, most residents since early childhood, were interviewed to compare these sounds. Each speaker was recorded reading a prepared story and a set of words included in a frame sentence. Formant frequencies for this recorded data were then analyzed. Statistical tests, including t-tests and ANOVAs, were run to compare the vowels and to test the validity of the hypothesis. Normalizing the data for one single vowel sound proved to be unworkable, so men and women were treated separately, as were Narrative and Frame data. The low back vowel was found to be stable in mid-coast Maine, including the same sound in cod and caught, and it was found to contrast with the low central vowel in father. Available historical evidence points to these vowels having been stable in this region for over a hundred years. This contrasts with changes in the vowel sound in the same words in the rest of the United States.
  • A lexical transducer for North Slope Iñupiaq

    Bills, Aric R.; Tuttle, Siri; Levin, Lori; Berge, Anna; Kaplan, Lawrence (2011-05)
    This thesis describes the creation and evaluation of software designed to analyze and generate North Slope Iñupiaq words. Given a complete lñupiaq word as input, it attempts to identify the word's stem and suffixes, including the grammatical category and any inflectional information contained in the word. Given a stem and list of suffixes as input, it attempts to produce the corresponding Iñupiaq word, applying phonological processes as necessary. Innovations in the implementation of this software include Iñupiaq-specific formats for specifying lexical data, including a table-based format for specifying inflectional suffixes in paradigms; a treatment of phonologically-conditioned irregular allomorphy which leverages the pattern-recognition capabilities of the xfst programming language; and an idiom for composing morphographemic rules together in xfst which captures the state of the software each time a new rule is added, maximizing feedback during software compilation and facilitating troubleshooting. In testing, the software recognized 81.2% of all word tokens (78.3% of unique word types) and guessed at the morphology of an additional 16.8% of tokens (19.4% of types). Analyses of recognized words were largely accurate; a heuristic for identifying accurate parses is proposed. Most guesses were at least partly inaccurate. Improvements and applications are proposed.
  • Quliriuralta (Lets keep telling stories): pace model with traditional Yup'ik storytelling in a second grade dual language classroom

    Wassilie, Irene M.; Siekmann, Sabine; Martelle, Wendy; Patterson, Leslie; Samson, Sally (2019-12)
    This research was conducted in a setting where the students are losing their Indigenous language. It is centered around the retention and revitalization of the Yugtun language. The goal of the research was to gain insights into how second graders in a dual language enrichment school constructed meaning and focus on form in their classroom. The instructional model employed as part of this investigation is the PACE Model, which is a story-based approach to teaching grammar through focus on form with an emphasis on meaning making. The model is consistent with Indigenous oral storytelling, cultural values, traditions and expectations. The study involves myself and fourteen second graders in Napaskiak, Alaska. ZJW Memorial School is one of 28 schools in the Lower Kuskokwim School District. Of these fourteen students, only one spoke Yugtun as his first language. The others were immersed into Yugtun as a second language. I implemented the PACE approach over the course of 25 days. Data was gathered through field notes, student artifacts, video and audio recordings. The data reveals that meaning making and building background knowledge can be a challenge for both teacher and students. It also reveals that the teacher should be implementing multimodal approaches to build comprehensible input so that students may produce output in the target language.
  • Developing sociolinguistic awareness through a digital lexicon project in a fifth grade classroom in rural Alaska

    Boynton, Julia F.; Martelle, Wendy; Siekmann, Sabine; Patterson, Leslie (2019-12)
    This teacher action research examines how teachers can build student awareness of language variations in order to help students make meaning during the learning process thus bridging the gap between home discourse and school discourse. In this study students built a digital lexicon using a class generated list of Village English terms that are present in Aniak, Alaska. The purpose of this study was to build students' sociolinguistic awareness through explicit instruction and the Aniak Digital Lexicon project. The findings showed that providing students with explicit instruction helped develop students during their meaning making process and students were able to differentiate between Village English and Standard Academic English. The findings in this research study can be used to inform educators interested in teaching students about language variations and in particular learning about their own dialectal variation of English.
  • Tua'll (and then) I used math to tell a story: Using think alouds to enhance agency and problem solving in an indigenous high school mathematics class

    Boyd, Jennifer Ayaginaar; Patterson, Leslie; Martelle, Wendy; Siekmann, Sabine (2019-12)
    This paper examines action research in a high school math classroom with a focus on student discourse and agency. Students' use of language to explain their problem-solving processes was documented and analyzed. Specifically, the focus was on variations in student language and how the teacher responded to students during the problem-solving process. The following questions guided the analysis of what happened in the classroom: 1) How do my students talk about their math process? 2) How do I mediate their problem solving? One of the teacher researcher's earliest realizations was that she interfered in students' opportunities to problem solve on their own. Additionally, the students' explanations of their "problem-solving process" included more narration than justification or explanation of the process. On reflection, the teacher researcher decided to return to the research process to look further into these interactions while students were problem-solving. The second phase of research focused on student agency and how teachers can mediate for their students. Over a four-week period, the teacher researcher looked at the influences of multiple levels of assistance while each student was talking through his or her problem-solving process. Data sources include field notes, student artifacts, videos of student think aloud videos, and transcriptions of group work from the teacher researcher's classroom. The findings provide detailed insights into how these high school students approach math problems and how they describe and explain their problem-solving processes. The teacher researcher explores implications for teacher actions, insights into how students work together, and observations of students discussing their problem solving. Specifically, the teacher researcher noticed a need for language focus in mathematics instruction. In addition, teachers should problem solve with their students, rather than for their students; and allow students to mediate with each other to develop student agency.
  • Postwar reconciliation: parental attitudes towards Sri Lanka's trilingual education policy

    Malalasekera, Nimasha S.; Marlow, Patrick; Siekmann, Sabine; Martelle, Wendy (2019-08)
    After 26 years, the ethnic-based civil war in Sri Lanka ended in 2009. The Trilingual Education Policy seeks to reconcile the estranged Sinhalese and Tamil communities by teaching each community the other's language in this postwar context. Scholars argue that national reconciliation through Trilingual Education is unlikely to succeed because of the continued mistrust and prejudice between the two communities and the demand for English as key to social mobility and economic prosperity. Since these claims are not supported by empirical evidence, this study seeks to find empirical data to support or counter these claims. The study investigates parental attitudes to their second languages, Sinhala, Tamil, and English, the three languages of the Trilingual Education Policy to understand its likely success. Twenty-one parents whose children receive Sinhala, Tamil, and English L2 tuition in Colombo 5 were selected through convenience sampling. The study uses the constructivist grounded theory, mentalist approach to language attitudes, and concepts of capital and linguicism for data analysis. The study found that Sinhala has capital for the Tamils and is valued and glorified by them, whereas Tamil has no capital for the Sinhalese and is devalued and stigmatized by them. Both groups valorize and glorify English, for it has more capital than Sinhala/Tamil both locally and translocally. Concluding that the Trilingual Education Policy is unlikely to succeed because of linguicism, the study recommends providing incentives for learning Sinhala and Tamil and advocating dual language education for reconciling the two communities.
  • Tomo ni manabu: task-based language teaching in a high school English class in Japan

    Holland, Yoshie; Siekmann, Sabine; Murakami, Chisato; Martelle, Wendy (2019-08)
    Task-based language teaching is a method that emerged in the field of second language acquisition in the U.S. Task-based language teaching facilitates language learning in context. However, there are few examples of research that investigate the applicability of task-based language teaching in classrooms in Japan where constraints such as big class size, college entrance exams, and designated textbooks that follow the national curriculum guidelines are factors. This study investigates the response of a Japanese teacher and 41 high school students in Japan, the students' language development as well as the suitability of task-based language teaching in classrooms in Japan. It also offers some guidance to make task-based language teaching more easily applicable to classrooms in Japan. This mixed method study involved a series of semi-structured interviews with a high school teacher in Japan, class observations of the task-based language teaching lessons, and a pre-test and post-test with surveys for the students. The study found out that the teacher expressed tensions between his current teaching context at that time and the task-based language teaching lesson plan. However, the teacher finished the lesson with a positive attitude towards task-based language teaching. Also, the students learned the grammar focus from the task-based language teaching lesson even though the lesson was not focused on the grammar as much as the traditional teaching. Overall, task-based language teaching in the teaching context worked well where the students worked in groups since it facilitated learning among students. This study also suggests that the teacher and his students adopted task-based language teaching positively and that the specific approach of task-supported language teaching is likely to be most suitable in this teaching context.
  • Multimodal meaning making with culturally responsive images: designing tasks for 6th - 8th grade special education students

    Surman, Audra Ruth Panigacungaq; Siekmann, Sabine; Martelle, Wendy; Patterson, Leslie; Moses, Catherine (2019-05)
    The following study describes the patterns that emerged from collaborative tasks among middle school students within a special education intervention class in rural Alaska. The study integrated the multiliteracies pedagogy, as well as multimodalities and task-based language teaching. The tasks utilized culturally appropriate illustrations to promote collaborative discussion throughout a structured set of five tasks. The research aims to answer the following question: How do sixth through eighth grade students co-construct meaning when doing tasks that incorporate culturally appropriate images? Three students native to the community participated in this study over a two-month period. The tasks were designed around culturally relevant illustrations allowing students to use their funds of knowledge as they collaborated to complete the tasks. The data collection included field notes, class artifacts, video and audio recordings, and student interviews. The data presented multimodal events where students utilized their semiotic resources and funds of knowledge to make meaning during each task. The analysis revealed telling incidents of multimodal meaning making moments where culturally relevant resources support the application of funds of knowledge. The analysis also uncovered critical insights for the task design variables which can impact the ending outcome and final product of a task. As a result, I encourage the use of open-ended tasks addressing multimodal teaching to encourage culturally relevant meaning making moments, particularly within special education settings.
  • Two old women: culturally relevant literature discussions in the 4th grade

    Starr, Georgianna B.; Martelle, Wendy; Siekmann, Sabine; Patterson, Leslie (2019-05)
    Two Old Women: Literature Discussions in the 4th Grade is a teacher action research study exploring the connections between the reading of culturally relevant texts, and the relationship between the roles of the teacher and students. As a teacher at the Alaska Native Cultural Charter School in the Anchorage School District, I strive to include culturally rich Indigenous literature in the classroom so students can experience traditional oral narratives in a written format. Our school strives to build student excellence through traditional cultural learning with a focus on Alaska Native Values, and this thematic story by Velma Wallis encompasses those traditions. In this teacher action research study, I collected data through audio recordings, video recordings, student artifacts, and a teacher journal in a span of eight weeks. These data were analyzed using the constructivist grounded theory. I found that utilizing a culturally relevant text in a western format allows students the opportunity to learn about culture, traditions, and how these continue to shape ideas and thinking today. Through this research, I found that using culturally relevant literature allowed students to access their funds of knowledge, but this process takes time and practice between teacher and students. The students stated that they loved this book and ultimately, they read some common truths about themselves and their community.
  • Slowing down: how collaborative pairs support meaning making and the writing process in an elementary classroom

    Short, Kelsey; Martelle, Wendy; Siekmann, Sabine; Patterson, Leslie (2019-05)
    The teacher action research study was conducted within a third-grade classroom. The participants of the study were eight English Language learners who worked in pairs to write a retelling of a storybook. The need for this research developed from observations made by the classroom teacher focusing around the animated oral storytelling of her students and how that joy did not translate to writing. Data was collected in the forms of video and audio recordings, student samples and a research journal. The study attempted to discover what decisions students made as they focused on their written retelling in a collaborative pair. Increasing interaction between students became a main focus of the study and the ideas of sociocultural theory were the main themes that drove the analysis of this research. The study showed that students utilized a variety of mediational tools available to them as they made meaning and participated in collaborative dialogue. They also spent time supporting each other by utilizing those mediational tools to increase the success of their retelling, as well as by giving social support when their partner was flustered or overwhelmed.
  • Can I tell you what really happened?: learning to make decisions in response to indigenous student voice in a high school language arts classroom

    Rushman, Alyssa M.; Patterson, Leslie; Siekmann, Sabine; Martelle, Wendy (2019-05)
    This study focuses on engaging high school students in reading and the decisions I make to sustain that engagement. I learned that one way to enhance the engagement in my classroom is to listen to my students' stories and to incorporate culturally relevant texts. All of the students in this study were previously in our school's language intervention program: Read 180. While teaching this intervention-based class, I noticed this class was a behavior management nightmare. The students' challenging behavior led me to question the intervention program's ability to sustain my students' engagement through the prescribed texts. This study aims to describe my observations in a 10th grade Language Arts II class in Chefornak, Alaska. Specifically, this thesis describes my findings and analysis as it relates to how students show engagement and how I make (and revise) decisions in response to my students' voices. I used teacher action research (TAR) to research the events in my classroom. During an 11-week period, I collected audio recordings, student work samples, and teacher action research journal entries. At the end of the research, I also wrote memos about the data. I used constructive grounded theory (CGT) to make sense of the story the data tells and to see what kind of patterns were present. This research is important to me because it helps me to understand the weaknesses and the strengths in my own instructional planning as well as how I interpret students' participation in class. After this research, I am convinced that learning outcomes are preceded by learner engagement, and that learner engagement is complex.
  • Adult ancestral language learning and effects on identity

    Peter, Hishinlai' R.; Siekmann, Sabine; Koester, David; Marlow, Patrick; Sims, Christine (2019-05)
    This qualitative study explored the relationship between Gwich'in adult language learning and identity development. Identity is dynamic, fluid and reflects how a person positions themselves and is positioned by others. A person's sense of self influences their feelings, actions, and behaviors. Using grounded theory as an analytical tool and activity theory as a theoretical lens, this study offers self-as-a leading activity as a way to conceptualize the identity formation of two adult Gwich'in language learners. The way a person looks is not a factor in Gwich'in identity, and also to claim the identity of being Gwich'in, one does not have to know the language. There are other strong identity markers, such as cultural knowledge, knowing who your ancestors were and where you came from. However, those who are learning the Gwich'in language feel a stronger connection to gain deeper insights into the Gwich'in worldview. The final outcome of this research are the implications of Activity Theory, which can be used as an analytical tool. Using Activity Theory can help explain for language learners and others, the rules, division of labor, and help identify tensions or contradictions between what the community want to see happen for language learning. The data in this research identifies tensions or contradictions that the main participants experienced, such as the need for positive support, language usage, and practicing to gain proficiency.
  • More than words: co-constructive dialogue as a strategy for technical, academic language acquisition (TALA) in an indigenous, middle school science classroom

    Ladwig, Joachim H.; Patterson, Leslie; Siekmann, Sabine; Martelle, Wendy (2019-05)
    This teacher action research study investigated how secondary science students respond to small group co-construction activities designed to help them produce collaborative summaries of scientific information. The principle research question guiding this study asks, "How do middle school students engage in content learning and in the use of technical academic language (TAL) during a science writer's workshop?" Building upon the work of previous investigators I studied how emerging bilingual Grade 8 students participated in a science writer's workshop as they co-constructed written summaries in small groups. After initial instruction about the science content, participants worked in table groups to begin their summaries and become comfortable with the process. Participants were regrouped for the final phases of the workshop as they revised their earlier work. Twelve classroom sessions were digitally recorded and from them 25 language-related episodes (LREs) from two small groups were identified for further investigation. LREs were transcribed and analyzed for patterns of student interaction and then correlated with students' written summaries. These deeper interaction patterns became the targeted categories of this investigation: teaming; going beyond the content; and disagreeing. Each of these patterns provide different opportunities for students to learn more about the science content and to use scientific language. The extra time for this collaboration allowed for more TAL usage and seemed to make a meaningful difference in these students' final writings. Further, analysis reveals that TALA is a complex sociocultural process and that the dialogic process inherent in the science writer's workshop is more important than the words alone. In this context, dialogue about science in the context of the science writer's workshop supported both content learning and the acquisition of TAL for these emergent bilingual middle school students.
  • The suitcase project: a journey in multimodal reading of graphic novels with emergent bilingual fourth grade students

    Ashe, Kayla; Siekmann, Sabine; Martelle, Wendy; Patterson, Leslie (2019-05)
    This teacher action research focuses on how three fourth grade students interact and make meaning as they read the graphic novel, Amulet. While reading from the graphic novel, students engaged in the reading as design process to make meaning. These three students are Yup'ik students enrolled in a dual language school. Students interacted with peers and different modalities of meaning as they engaged in the meaning-making process. Data sources include a teacher research journal, audio recordings of readings and discussions, and students' reader response journals. Data analysis followed constructivist grounded theory. As there were various types of data collected and a multimodal text was used, multimodal data analysis was used to interpret the relationship across the various modes used in the study. Three main findings emerged from the data: 1. Vocabulary can be learned through multiple modes. 2. Students used words to mediate meaning socially and in a private manner. 3. Combined visuals and text support meaning making. These findings led to the conclusion that meaning making and research are both multimodal. The findings also reveal how emergent bilingual students were active meaning-makers and could read and respond to a graphic novel successfully. At times, writing prompts were used. While students designed meaning with multimodal texts, the writing prompts constricted their responses to certain topics, such as setting and characters, and did not allow for students to continue designing meaning in their own ways. Students were able to continue designing their own meaning when responding to the text in a natural, multimodal way without prompts constricting thoughts relating to the text.

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