• Engineering education professional development for teachers in the Delta Greely School District

      Dougherty, Jennifer; Kaden, Ute; Thorsen, Denise; Larson, Angela (2019-12)
      Over the last two decades engineering has become a new focus in many science curricula, in part due to the emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education. Most teachers lack training or education in engineering and are not adequately prepared to implement effective engineering education. This research identifies the needs and constraints of one district, the Delta Greely School District (DGSD), in Delta Junction, AK (approximately 750 students district-wide). Surveys were distributed to fifty teachers and five administrators to gather information on attitudes and beliefs surrounding engineering education. Focus groups were conducted with teachers and administrators to better understand the needs of the teachers and the district as well as the perceived obstacles that currently limit engineering education in the classroom. The results were used to create recommendations for professional development to improve and increase engineering education in the district's K-5 classrooms. The final recommendations focus on a professional development plan and professional development delivery modes. Results of the study support two levels of professional development: one introductory level for teachers unfamiliar or not comfortable with engineering education and one for teachers who are comfortable with the subject and would like to improve their teaching. It was also determined that specific teaching resources (i.e., lesson plans and curricular material) should be part of professional development, and that professional development solution should be designed to complement the specific district-provided resources and curricula.
    • Integrating comprehension instruction, multimodalities and co-construction into cultural learning

      Harrington, Christine; Hogan, Maureen; Martelle, Wendy; Patterson, Leslie (2018-12)
      This study explores the impact of a story-based approach to teaching reading strategies, and examines the implementation of and co-construction within multimodal activities. Eight third grade students participated in this study in a charter school focused on Alaska Native cultural learning. The phases of the PACE Model focused on transitional words and phrases in the context of a traditional story from the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures of Alaska. Their attention to the language feature was extended to summarizing and retelling as part of the Extension phase of the model. The results are consistent with previous studies that attributed focus on form to language development and accuracy in dual language and second language settings.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.