• 575 Tlingit verbs: a study of Tlingit verb paradigms

      Eggleston, Keri M. (2013-05)
      The Tlingit language, indigenous to Southeast Alaska and neighboring parts of British Columbia and the Yukon territory, is related to the Athabascan languages and the recently extinct language Eyak. Like Athabascan and Eyak, Tlingit verbal morphology is highly complex. The conjugation of Tlingit verbs is unpredictable in certain respects, making the documentation of verb forms from native speakers critical, due to the highly endangered state of the language, and because this has never before been documented for Tlingit. The objectives of the research presented here are twofold: 1) to document complete paradigms for 575 verbs, and; 2) to create a reference for second language learners and teachers of Tlingit. For each of the verbs included in the research, twelve modes were systematically documented through consultation with a group of native speakers. The newly documented forms were compiled into a database using Toolbox software and additionally organized into a user-friendly online database, hosted on the Goldbelt Heritage Foundation website. Based on the documented forms, descriptions of each of the twelve modes were written, with second language students and teachers as the target audience. The descriptions of each mode include information pertaining to the semantics, morphology, and verb stem variation, and are intended to assist second language learners in mastering the difficult task of conjugating Tlingit verbs. Another critical item included for each verb entry is the verb theme, which illustrates all of its component parts including thematic prefix, conjugation prefix, classifier, and stem. The accompanying detailed description of each element of the verb theme serves as a grammatical sketch of the Tlingit verb for language learners. An additional result of the research is a set of nine prefix combination charts. Because the Tlingit verb has many prefix positions, there are a number of regular contractions that take place in conjugating a verb. The prefix combination charts illustrate the regular contractions that take place between the thematic prefixes, conjugation prefixes, aspect prefixes, subject prefixes, and classifiers, to name a few. These charts show language learners how to switch between subject prefixes for a given verb.
    • A Parent's Choice

      Hoffman, Jill; Marlow, Patrick (2010)
      In one rural Alaska school district, parents have a choice to place their child in an English only school or a Yup'ik immersion school. In the English only school, all subjects are taught in English. In the dual immersion school, English is introduced at third grade and progressively increases with each grade level until the sixth grade, when students exit the program. The researcher will seek to find why parents choose to place their child in the English only school or in the Yup'ik Immersion School. This inquiry is to help the researcher understand the thoughts and perceptions that are being held by parents and members in the community about each of the schools. The study will use qualitative research methodology that includes questionnaires and personal interviews to find out the thoughts and feelings that are being held by the parents. This research seeks to find the reasons why parents choose one school over the other. After reviewing the questionnaires, the researcher will select five parents from each school with various backgrounds to interview. The researcher will conduct ethnographic interviews designed to elicit more in-depth information. The interviews will be coded and emergent themes identified. Through data analysis, the researcher hopes to discover the reasons why parents are choosing each of the schools.
    • An acoustic study of stem prominence in Hän Athabascan

      Manker, Jonathan T. (2012-05)
      Observations in many studies of Athabascan languages have indicated that the stem syllable displays phonetic prominence, perhaps due to its semantic or structural importance, which is realized through a variety of acoustic means. Features such as voicing, duration, manner of articulation, voice quality, and vowel quality pattern differently in stems and prefixes, both in the diachronic developments of Athabascan phonology as well as in the synchronic, phonetic realizations of individual phonemes. This acoustic study of the Hän language investigates the synchronic realization of this morphological conditioning in fricatives, stops, and vowels, and attempts to unify several different phonological effects into a single theory of stem prominence. The results show that the most regular and predictable of these correlates of stem prominence is the increase in duration of segments in stem onsets (consonants) and nuclei (vowels). Additional variations in features that pattern according to morphological category, such as voicing (in fricatives), voice quality (in ejectives), and vowel quality are considered secondary effects largely influenced by duration.
    • 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.
    • Agentive And Patientive Verb Bases In North Alaskan Inupiaq

      Nagai, Tadataka; Kaplan, Lawrence D. (2006)
      This dissertation is concerned with North Alaskan Inupiaq Eskimo. It has two goals: (i) to provide a grammatical sketch of the Upper Kobuk dialect of this language; (ii) to investigate agentive and patientive verb bases. Chapter 2 is a grammatical sketch of the Upper Kobuk dialect of North Alaskan Inupiaq. Chapter through 5 deal with two types of verb bases in this language, called agentive and patientive. As we see in Chapter 3, agentive and patientive verb bases are verb bases that can inflect either intransitively or transitively, and they differ in the following ways: (i) prototypical agentive bases have the intransitive subject corresponding with the transitive subject, and do not require a half-transitive postbase to become antipassive; (ii) prototypical patientive bases have the intransitive subject corresponding with the transitive object, and require a half-transitive postbase to become antipassive. In Chapter 4, I present the polarity---the property of being agentive or patientive---of all the verb bases that can inflect either intransitively or transitively, sorted by meaning, in order to uncover semantic features that characterize agentive and patientive bases. I identify 13 semantic features, such as indicating the agent's process for agentive bases and the lack of agent control for patientive bases. All these semantic features are related with the saliency of the agent or patient. In Chapter 5, I investigate several pieces of evidence that show that the dividing line between the agentive and patientive classes is not rigid: (i) There are verb bases that can have the intransitive subject corresponding with either the transitive subject or object. (ii) Some verb bases may or may not take a half-transitive postbase to become antipassive. (iii) Certain postbases or a certain verb mood turn agentive bases into patientive or patientive bases into agentive. Although two classes of verbs similar to the agentive and patientive classes in Inupiaq are found in many languages, such phenomena as described in this chapter are seldom studied. This chapter purports to be the fast coherent study of its kind. The appendices contain two Inupiaq texts.
    • Authentic Assessment For Yuuyaraq Middle School Students Based On The Yuuyaraq Curriculum

      Nicholai, Rachel Cikigaq; Cole-Ritchie, Marilee (2010)
      This study examines how the Yuuyaraq curriculum is being applied in the context of a middle school classroom in a small Yup'ik village in Alaska, specifically focusing on how to better assess the outcomes of the curriculum. In the early 1980s, the Yuuyaraq curriculum (YC) was revised to include the seasonal activities of the region, but lacked alignment with the assessments. By using the Participatory Action Research methodology, the researcher identified a problem, observed the situation, analyzed and interpreted the data, and developed an action plan. Data revealed that authentic assessments used in the Yuuyaraq curriculum can be assess Indigenous knowledge, how teachers' indigenous knowledge contributed to a classroom, and how rubrics are in need in a classroom to monitor student progress. The conclusions include various forms of authentic assessments used in the YC, how teacher's knowledge and practice contributed to a classroom that focused on her students' culture and identity and engaged them in a culturally relevant curriculum through the frameworks of sociocultural theory and Indigenous knowledge systems.
    • Authentic Assessment In Action: The Challenges, Success, And Discoveries Made In A 5Th Grade Classroom

      Hendrickson, Kristen I.; Coles-Ritchie, Marilee (2010)
      This research study focuses on the success, challenges, and the discoveries I made implementing authentic assessment in my 5th grade classroom of Alaska Native, English Language Learners (ELLS). The primary goals of this study are to provide students, parents, and education professionals with a more accurate picture of students' academic and language knowledge and skills; and to share my own experience implementing authentic assessments into my classroom. Standardized assessment scores, authentic assessment results, interviews, observations, and my research journal provided the bulk of the data that was analyzed. Two learner profiles were constructed for each participant. The first profile was constructed based on the student's standardized test scores. The second learner profile was constructed from the information obtained about the learner through authentic assessments. This study concludes with my reflections and recommendations regarding the feasibility of implementing authentic assessments in a classroom.
    • Becoming Aware As A Parent, Schoolteacher And Community Member

      Angaiak-Bond, Anna (2010)
      The researcher uses autoethnography to understand whether a parent can act to maintain and reinvigorate Yup'ik at home after the child has already become English dominant. The research takes place in the village of Tununak, where the mother/researcher, a fluent Yup'ik speaker, lives with her son. The Tununak school has a Yup'ik First Language Program (YFL). Under this program, the first three years of school are taught in Yup'ik, their children's first language. The fourth year is a transition period in which English is introduced. After exiting the YFL program, English becomes the primary language of instruction. Eventually, the majority of the students become English dominant. The researcher's child attended the YFL program and is now 15 years old. At the beginning of this research he spoke Yup'ik minimally. English was his dominant language He was considered Limited English Proficient when he entered school. He has been designated as fully English proficient since 6 th grade. His Yup'ik proficiency improved during the course of the research as he began to speak more phrases/sentences than he did at the beginning. The researcher seeks to learn if her role as a parent can reinvigorate her child's first language, Yup'ik, after he has already become English dominant. The research provided insights into one parent's attempts to strengthen the usage of Yup'ik at home. Data analysis focused on identifying factors that facilitated and/or hindered the process of speaking Yup'ik dominantly at home.
    • Bridging Home And School: Factors That Contribute To Multiliteracies Development In A Yup'ik Kindergarten Classroom

      Bass, A. Sarah; Parker-Webster, Joan; Siekmann, Sabine (2010)
      Since the establishment of a Yup'ik immersion school in Bethel in the mid-1990s, immersion programming has spread to many schools in Southwestern Alaska, including the school in this study. This school maintains a K-3 Yup'ik strand and a K-3 English strand. Both strands merge in the 4 th grade. Concern that the immersion program may hinder student achievement on state mandated benchmark testing in the 3rd grade and beyond has resulted in some opposition to the immersion program. However, in 2007/2008, those and former immersion students scored higher on the English reading and writing benchmark tests than students in the English strand and 3rd and 4th grade students district wide. This ethnographic teacher action research documented the process of multiliteracies development of four kindergarten students. Home literacy practice of students was documented from parent conversations. Classroom literacy development was documented through the collection of student work samples, still photographs, and teacher comments from anecdotal notes. Findings revealed these four students showed progress in their multiliteracies development as illustrated in their drawings, writing, and singing and chanting. Some of the contributing factors that emerged were: Yup'ik/English heard at home, Yup'ik at school, and literacy materials available both at home and school.
    • 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.
    • Can We Remain Yup'ik In These Contemporary Times? A Conversation Of Three Yugtun-Speaking Mothers

      Michael, Veronica E.; Marlow, P. (2010)
      The Yup'ik people of southwestern Alaska are experiencing language shift from Yugtun to English. This study is a conversation between three Yugtun speaking mothers who are trying to understand this shift and wondering if they can maintain their identity, and that of their children, in this changing world. The study takes place in the village of Kuiggluk. Data collection included a research journal and focus group discussions. In this study, I have tried to paint a picture of who we are as Yup'ik mothers in our contemporary lives. Qayaruaq, Mikngayaq and I carry with us our own mothers' teachings, while at the same time we face different situations in school and schooling. Through our discussions we sought to understand the reasons for language loss/shift -- a shift that seems to be driving us away from our culture.
    • 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.
    • Diigwandak: stories from a Gwich'in language classroom

      Hayton, Allan; Siekmann, Sabine; Hishinlai', "Kathy R. Sikorski"; Marlow, Patrick (2013-05)
      This study describes a semester in an Indigenous language high school classroom during the spring of 2011. The goal of this research is to capture the experiences of a novice Indigenous language teacher, and his students. High and low points are shared as the researcher seeks to find his place in the work of Indigenous language revitalization, and students strive to learn a second language. Data for this qualitative research was collected through teacher auto-ethnographic journal entries, lesson plans, student journals and projects, exit interviews with students, and two recorded classroom observations. Emergent themes of Time, Responsibility, Community, Fluency, Emotions, and Self-Doubt capture significant moments in the classroom, and reveal close connections between teacher and student experiences. The purpose of conducting this research is to provide insights for novice Indigenous language teachers into their classroom dynamics. The researcher also discovered areas of possible future research for Indigenous language teaching and learning.
    • Dynamic Assessment In A Yugtun Second Language Intermediate Adult Classroom

      Charles, Stephen Walkie; Siekmann, Sabine; Coles-Ritchie, Marilee; Brayboy, Bryan; Allen, James (2011)
      Dynamic Assessment is a new theoretical framework for language assessment, and it is particularly relevant for underrepresented languages and learners. For this study the process is investigated in the context of Yugtun second language learners at a university level. This qualitative teacher action research was a study that involved seven students enrolled in an intermediate Yup'ik language course and that comprised three DA sessions over the course of one semester. The intention in using DA was not to help learners do better on the tests but to understand their development in the language. The hope was that DA interactions would provide me with additional insights into learner knowledge and abilities while also helping them move toward more independent control over relevant features of the language. Assessments were organized as a two-stage process involving non-dynamic administration of chapter tests (targeting learner independent performance) followed by dynamic sessions. The dynamic sessions were conducted as 15-minute one-on-one interactions between each learner and the instructor the week after the tests. In order to gauge the students' ability to self-identify and correct their mistakes, their original static test was returned to them at the outset of the meeting without any corrections or grade. Students then corrected items directly on their test and were free to interact with instructor, asking questions, requesting specific forms of help, discussing problems, and so forth. Following the tenets of interactionist DA, the mediator set out with more implicit feedback and becoming more explicit as needed. However, no specific protocol was established prior to the dynamic sessions, in order to let interactions follow whatever course was needed to meet learner needs. Unassisted performance during the non-dynamic administration therefore reveals the students' actual level of development, while the dynamic session provided more in-depth understanding into the problems behind their performance and how close they were to gaining full control of the grammatical features in question. In addition, the quality of the instructor's interactions with learners served as individualized tutoring to further support their abilities. An additional data source that further highlights the study is the dialogue journal that each participant maintained. Journal-writing was incorporated as part of the assignments in the Yugtun course. I read and responded to journal entries weekly. Students were encouraged to ask questions and share their perspective of their learning and assessment experiences and to express themselves in the language of their choice. I responded to direct and indirect questions, offered praise and support, and gave corrective language feedback only when explicitly requested to by the learners. As will be made clear, dialogue journals also helped me identify learner struggles while tracking progress over time.
    • Focus On Form In Writing In A Third Grade Yugtun Classroom

      Moses, Catherine; Siekmann, Sabine (2010)
      This present research attempts to discover the effectiveness of focus on form in a Yugtun First Language third grade classroom. The procedures for this particular research included two series of tasks, each focusing students' attention on a particular grammatical structure. The series includes a pretest, a discovery phase, a teacher guided mini lesson, a paired task, an individual post task and a delayed post task. Data include students' scores on the pre, post and delayed post test as well as video recordings of whole class activities, and audio recordings of student dyads as they work on the collaborative task. In my research I found how I, as a Yugtun classroom teacher, could help my students focus on areas of language features they seem to have trouble with. I learned I could use focus on form through feedback and questions. I also found that the Yugtun word endings mun/nun were rather difficult for the Yugtun third graders. As a result I encourage all Yugtun teachers as well as other language teachers to attend workshop or training on language acquisition in order to get a better understanding of what it means as they endeavor to help their students learn effectively.
    • Focus On Form Through Singing In A First Grade Yugtun Immersion Classroom

      Oulton, Carol S.; Siekmann, Sabine (2010)
      This study examines the impacts of singing as a focus on form in the Yugtun genitive endings. Genitive case endings refer to the case of ownership, such as in the sentence "My mother's eyes." The belief of this research is that singing will help the students to focus on form in the oral performance of the first grade second language learners of Yugtun. All the students in the classroom participated in the study. Their accuracy and progression were measured prior to teaching two songs with a pretest interview. After teaching of the songs, the students composed couple songs where the genitive forms were examined. A posttest and a delayed test were administered after the instructions of the songs. The results support the previous studies that focus on form can provide accuracy to second language development.
    • Investigating A Yup'Ik Immersion Program: What Determines Success?

      Green, Jean Renee; Coles-Ritchie, Marilee (2010)
      This research stems from my connectedness to a particular village, which will be referred to as Naparyaraq1. Unlike the majority of research on Alaska Native language issues, which primarily are from the point of view from an outsider, this research is unique in that my role as a community member has allows me an insider perspective of our Yup'ik Immersion Program. When dealing with Indigenous language issues, it is important that the impetus for change and improvements come from the local people. The primary goal of the Naparyaraq Immersion Program resulted from the communities desire to create change Community members wanted to keep the Yup'ik language alive. Growing up in Naparyaraq and my familiarity with the language issues has also driven me to be a personal participant in this change. Using focus groups, interviews, classroom observations, and field notes, the main goal of this Master's thesis is to inform the teachers and school community of the Naparyaraq Yup'ik Immersion Program in order to continue to help make improvements. Some of the issues which are addressed in this research include information related to: language use, success, training, language use at home, support, success, quality staff, assessment, need for teacher collaboration, and curriculum. 1Naparyaraq is a pseudonym. All names and places in the thesis are pseudonyms.
    • Lower Tanana Athabascan verb paradigms

      Urschel, Janna Mercedes (2006-05)
      This thesis presents documentation of verb paradigms in the Minto-Nenana dialect of the Lower Tanana Athabascan language, based on fieldwork with four native speakers of the language. Lower Tanana is a severely endangered language spoken in the Interior region of Alaska. The paradigms document the combinations of five Athabascan verb prefixes: classifier, subject, mode, conjugation, and negation. Introductory material describes the Lower Tanana language and outlines the grammar of Lower Tanana verbs, with reference to properties of verbs exemplified in the paradigms. These introductory sections are addressed to teachers and learners of the Lower Tanana language, that they might make optimal use of this thesis as a reference tool in language revitalization efforts.
    • 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.
    • 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.