• Literacies and engagement: incorporating Yup'ik literacies in a language arts classroom

      Gehman, Michael J.; Hogan, Maureen; Leonard, Beth; Siekmann, Sabine (2017-05)
      The use of culturally relevant teaching practices and local literacies has been shown to increase student engagement in other studies. To observe the impact of Yup'ik literacies on student engagement, I designed and implemented a teacher, action research study that asked students to create a yuraq song to demonstrate their mastery of this topic. I spoke with members of the community to ensure the study was culturally acceptable and seen as beneficial, as well as to gain understanding about yuraq because I am an outsider to the culture. Students were observed and recorded throughout eight class periods while writing an academic essay and creating a yuraq song. Their actions in the classroom were analyzed to create an operational definition of engagement from a Yup'ik perspective, which was used, in conjunction with discussions with community members and students as well as student journals to determine if the yuraq task was able to foster deep, meaningful engagement. Their actions were also analyzed using James Paul Gee's work on "Big D" Discourse to identify the impact a local literacy had on their school Discourse. The data were able to illuminate a clear definition of Yup'ik engagement consisting of collaboration, physical action, and intense listening; deep student engagement similar to concept of Csikszentmihalyi's flow was observed in some but not all students; and the use of Discourse that matched the task and setting, but did not attempt to alter the power structure of the dominant Discourse in the school. The findings held a large degree of local validity for the participants, and were used to adjust teaching strategies to benefit this class.