Recent Submissions

  • Recommendations for training of substitute teachers in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District

    Chamblee, Lulu R.; Topkok, Sean; Hornig, Joan; Kardash, Diane (2020-12)
    With increasing importance placed on student growth and achievement scores, increasing teacher absenteeism, and increasing amounts of time students spend being taught by substitute teachers, it is surprising that the preparation of substitute teachers does not reflect the significance of the job they have in relation to these trends. Research shows that training can increase substitute teacher effectiveness, which may positively affect student growth and achievement. The purpose of this project was to determine what the substitute teacher onboarding process was, including employment requirements and required training, for substitute teachers in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District and to make recommendations to the district for the training of substitute teachers. Substitute teachers in the district were asked to complete a survey regarding their experience, current level of training, and perceived training needs. I found that regardless of the amount of experience and training substitute teachers already possess, they want more training not only in the programs and initiatives utilized by the district, but also in effective instructional strategies, best practices, and teaching methods in curricular areas. While the district onboarding process is fairly comprehensive, as is the available optional training, I developed recommendations to improve the onboarding process and training options for substitute teachers in the district to strengthen substitute teacher effectiveness.
  • A Framework for teachers in education for sustainable development for upper elementary grades in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District

    Wylde, Allison; Green, Carie; Spellman, Katie; Vinlove, Amy (2020-05)
    Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is a holistic approach to education that seeks to create a better world for this generation and the next. The aim of ESD is for students to gain knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that will shape the planet for a sustainable future. The United Nations has adopted 17 Global Goals as a "universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030” (United Nations Development Program, 2020, para. 1). Models for sustainability look very different depending on where one lives. The context of this work is Alaska, and more specifically the Fairbanks North Star Borough. The purpose of this project is to build a website resource to aid teachers in developing a mindset toward ESD and provide locally relevant resources and curriculum aligned with the United Nations Global Goals. This project is guided by the question of how Indigenous Ways of Knowing & Culturally responsive practices can be incorporated into curriculum development alongside district standards and ESD competencies. The methods of this project seek to engage students by incorporating real-world challenges and authentic experiences into core subject areas allowing students to connect classroom learning to real life, and thus creating engaged citizens. The aims are for students to become environmentally aware, while developing life-skills including leadership, communication, collaboration, and management. By developing a sense of place and equipping students with environmental knowledge and skills they can excel at living lives which further humanity while caring for and respecting our planet and it's resources.
  • An Overview of SLA theories with a focus on the affective filter hypoOther

    Fehrenbach, Nina R.; Hogan, Maureen; Kardash, Diane; Tolbert, Judith (2020-05)
    For many years foreign language acquisition has been a focal point of linguistic research. Theories of language learning is composed of essentially five major fields of thought (although there are many more theories, along with subtheories, correlational theories, methods and approaches) and a consensus has yet to be reached as to which one is the most accurate, for whom, in which context, what they are called or even how each one should be defined. This study aims to work with the five major ones, and dive deeper into each of them, with a specific focus on the Affective Filter Hypothesis, in order to apply these ideas in an English as a foreign language educational setting in which I currently work. This study hopes to implement theory in a way that makes second language learning more enjoyable and attainable for students, teachers and researchers.
  • Development of a nonformal education program evaluation plan: an evaluation design for two youth programs in Denali National Park and Preserve

    Lindauer, Dana; Vinlove, Amy; Ford, Stephanie; Hum, Richard (2019-12)
    This project proposes an evaluation design for two youth programs that operate out of the Murie Science and Learning Center in Denali National Park and Preserve. The two programs, Denali Backcountry Expeditions and Denali Summer Science Academy, are offered to Alaskan high school and college aged students and are co-managed by the National Park Service and Alaska Geographic. A formative, utilization-focused evaluation for instructors and managers of the programs was created. The evaluation seeks to facilitate targeted program development through articulating program goals and assessing participant outcomes related to these goals. In an effort to establish collaborative goals, eleven stakeholders were interviewed. Through grounded coding of stakeholder interviews, current goals and objectives for both programs were identified. From the interviews, main themes regarding program outcomes included a desire to impact cognitive, affective, and attitudinal relations between public lands and participants, and to provide an opportunity for youth to experience personal growth and social/emotional development in an undeveloped, outdoor setting. These and five other domains of program goals resulting from the analysis of the stakeholder interviews informed the design of a suite of evaluation tools. Tools including youth participant and adult chaperone surveys, concept mapping, and instructor post-program reflections were developed to collect both qualitative and quantitative data about program outcomes in relation to goals. Hardcopy and digital evaluation tools were designed along with an accompanying user manual for instructors and managers of the two programs.
  • Alaska native studies unit for fourth grade using place-based education, project-based learning, cooperative learning and indigenous knowledge

    Thompson, Katy Celeste; Vinlove, Amy L; Topkok, Sean S; Green, Carie J (2019-08)
    As a fourth-grade educator who was responsible for teaching social studies, specifically meeting the Alaska Standards that focus on Alaska’s history of Indigenous peoples it is incredibly important that I teach accurately and genuinely. This has been a weak area of mine, since I am not from the state of Alaska. Therefore, it is an area that I wanted to further develop in my teaching practices. I developed an integrated social studies quarter long (nine weeks) unit for fourth grade that focuses on the history of Alaska from the Indigenous viewpoint. There are countless atrocities that occurred to the Indigenous population of Alaska that often get brushed under the rug. It is a disservice to not educate my students on these things. Another issue when teaching Alaska history and culture is that stereotypes and biases are often unintentionally taught as well. It is necessary that I understand my own perceptions and beliefs as a White female with little exposure and understanding of Alaska Native culture and education. Being a white female puts me in a position where I am not able to share my own experiences and knowledge as someone who is Alaska Native and grew up with the culture and language, because of this I needed to seek resources outside of myself to be able to accurately and relevantly teach a unit on Alaska Native history, knowledge and culture. I included place-based learning, cooperative learning and project-based lessons into my unit which allows students to explore the local environment and incorporate Alaska Native knowledge. This unit goes beyond social studies, because teaching must be open and welcoming to diversity and differences. Classrooms must be accepting and understanding so that students feel safe to share their own knowledge and stories with one another, and listen with respect and kindness
  • Summer's children: an outdoor educational curriculum to help children discover the beauty of nature

    Kerndt, Susan; Green, Carie; Vinlove, Amy; Hornig, Joan (2019-05)
    Changes in current societies are affecting childhood experiences. In an era where children spend countless hours indoors and on electronic devices the questions must be asked, are children developing valuable connections to the natural world around them? How much quality time are they really spending in the out-of-doors in a natural environment that would induce a connection? Time for outdoor play has diminished as nature has become to be regarded as separate from everyday life. The importance of an outdoor educational curriculum is established that would allow children to have a closer connection to nature by allowing a healthy balance of the time children spend outdoors. This project explores the questions of what an outdoor educational curriculum would look like that is project-based and child-led. A curriculum that would help children develop a sense of place, a sense of identity, and one that would help children develop self-efficacy while building self-esteem. This paper presents the main dimensions that quality outdoor experiences help to establish in the growing child and highlights the role of professionals and families in creating quality outdoor learning experiences.
  • Gizmos and gadgets: a guidebook of technological resources in the elementary classroom

    Dobrich, Rachel A.; Kardash, Diane; Vinlove, Amy; Imhoff, Myriam (2018-12)
    This research examines the implementation of technology in elementary classrooms. Prior research has shown that elementary teachers have more positive perspectives towards technology incorporation when sufficiently trained through pre-service teacher preparation programs and professional development opportunities for existing educators. Adequate technology instruction is necessary because it teaches educators about available resources and how to appropriately and meaningfully incorporate them into their lessons. Teachers need to provide relevant, authentic learning experiences for their students, teaching them how to function in a technological society. Technology has the potential to increase engagement and academic performance. It also allows teachers to create an accessible classroom environment for all students, including individuals with disabilities. There are numerous methods for technology integration including computer programs, iPad applications, games, virtual experiences, and interactive devices. However, teachers may not be aware of all the resources available. By increasing awareness of these technological resources, teachers can address the diverse learning styles of their students, helping them understand the academic content and preparing them for life outside of the classroom.
  • Increasing exposure at home to improve literacy skills at school

    Gormley, Patricia A.; Burmeister, RIchard; Kardash, Diane; Peterson, Don (2014-06)
    The focus of this project was to help the home literacy environment by supplying materials for families that are an expansion on what students are learning in the classroom with weekly take-home book bags. Research shows that students who become good readers stay good readers. The bags include a selection of books for families to read together along with audio recordings of each of the books to allow the student to make full use of the books without assistance. For families for whom English is not a first language or for families who have limited time for parent-child interactions, the recordings may be especially helpful so that students can interact with the materials independently. Overall, the additional time spent focusing on literacy will have a positive impact on reading skills and help build a strong school-to-home connection for future years.
  • Dramatics in the classroom: activating and enhancing the elementary intermediate level reading curriculum

    Finnell, Sarah K.; Vinlove, Amy; Hornig, Joan; Brink-Hart, Paula (2014-07)
    Elementary classroom teachers have been using drama to teach a variety of subjects since the 1960s. There are a myriad of books on the subject to which educators can turn for ideas to use in their classrooms. Theorists and practitioners have recognized that it is not enough for teachers to simply read about and practice drama in their classrooms; they should be trained in using drama effectively. In the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District teachers are well-equipped and exposed to visual arts lessons. Nearly every school has a music program, but there remains limited training or resources teachers might use to incorporate drama into their curriculum. This project would begin to fill that gap. In this report, I outline the research that justifies the use of drama as a tool to support the reading curriculum in intermediate elementary classrooms. My final project is a set of nine lessons that can be used by any teacher to support reading comprehension skills in intermediate elementary classrooms.
  • Mindfulness for educators: fostering awareness and resilience in the classroom

    Bursiel, Morgan R.; Vinlove, Amy; Healy, Joanne; McIntosh, Susan (2014-08)
    Teaching in the public schools is demanding work, and addressing teacher stress in the classroom remains a significant challenge in education. Increasing numbers of children come to school unprepared and often at risk of mental health and behavioral concerns, yet teachers are expected to provide emotionally responsive support to all students, manage larger classroom sizes, and meet the growing academic demands imposed by standardized testing. Despite these high expectations, teachers rarely receive training to address and skillfully handle the social-emotional challenges of their profession. A current examination of teacher educational and in-service professional development activities indicates that little professional development specifically targets these competencies. Over the last decade, mindfulness--the intentional cultivation of focused attention and awareness--has grown from its initial western applications in medicine to other disciplines, including education. Studies have shown that even a few weeks of practicing mindfulness can bring a variety of physical, emotional, and social benefits to teachers and students alike. This project aims to introduce mindfulness training to teachers to bolster positive qualities of mind and enhance responsive, compassionate teaching.
  • The decision-making process of first year teachers

    Coskey, Isabeau S. (2015-08)
    Attrition rates among beginning teachers have long been a cause for concern. As a profession, teaching is one that is extremely difficult to enter into and find your footing. For most novice teachers the first year of teaching is typically the most difficult due to the challenges faced both in the classroom and personally. During the day a myriad of decisions fall on the shoulders of a teacher and long after students have gone most teachers are continuing to make decisions about the classroom. This project examines the major areas where decisions are being made, charts the decision-making process first year teachers employ, and presents an electronic guidebook that can be used by individuals transitioning from a pre-service program into their first year of teaching.
  • Sense of place in military children's new community and school environment

    Imhoff, Myriam C.; Green, Carie; Vinlove, Amy; Kardash, Diane (2017-12)
    Relocation, or permanent change of station (PCS) is one of the constants of the military lifestyle. Thus, every two to three years, dependent children of enlisted military are uprooted from a place and forced to call a new place home. The goal of this research project is to provide a resource for teachers who have transient military children in their classroom and help them develop a sense of place in their new community and school environment. Scholarly literature on geographic mobility, stress and coping, education, sense of place, and place attachment as well as existing educational resources for military families inform the scope of this curriculum project. Research reports that having deployed parents as well as relocating have a negative impact on military adolescents' education and social life. However, the resources given for military parents or for teachers getting new military students are limited or difficult to find. This written project, accompanied by a web-based resource, conglomerates ideas from several sources as well as new ideas to help teachers ease military children's transition. Lessons focus on reading, writing, social studies, and art. Key classroom components are also suggested; these include Google annotated map, bulletin board or map in the classroom, bulletin board with photos of the environment/community, guest book for the classroom, and getting to know each other activity. Additionally, curriculum is aligned with Alaska State standards for third through fifth grade.
  • Discovery Peak Charter School Initiative unit development

    Rosevear, Kristine; Green, Carie; Armstrong, Anne; Boyle, Sandra (2017-05)
    I have created two units of study that focus around place-based education, project based learning and emphasize physical activity. These units were created with the purpose of being used at Discovery Peak Charter School. Guided by underlying principles of Understanding by Design (2011) and Place-based Curriculum Design (2015), each unit aligns with the mission of the school and have been balanced to create a holistic quarter long unit of study. The units are built around three main principles; place-based education, project based learning, and physical activity. Each of these principles will be woven into the unit, but may not be present in each lesson section.
  • Elementary STEM: integrated lessons

    Sassman, John (2016-12)
    The primary purpose of this project was to increase elementary students’ STEM literacy and interest in STEM-related fields. The secondary purpose of this project was to improve educator self-efficacy to teach STEM in their own classroom. To do this, I created, tested, and revised a series of STEM lessons and kits appropriate for Intermediate elementary students. Participants in this project included: eight through twelve year-old elementary students, three “Highly Qualified” certified elementary teachers from the FNSBSD, and other teacher collaborators from California and New Jersey. This project also enlisted the help of several expert students and faculty from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The method used was a collaborative, cyclical, anecdotal, and highly reflective Action Research approach. The final product is a series of five STEM lessons and kits that can be used in an Intermediate elementary classroom. The lessons and kits have been tested and revised many times, and are ready for dissemination for other educators to use. I recommend that teachers become familiar with the content included in the lessons and kits, particularly because national standards have recently changed, and these lessons offer methods for teaching this new material. The accompanying kits are also intended to be user-friendly. It is my hope that these kits find their way into many classrooms, and bring students and teachers knowledge and joy. I will continue working on integrated STEM lessons and kits in the future.