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LING 610
Elder Sharing Ice Safety

I. Rationale

This activity is designed for use with students in a village setting where students
speak Yupik and English and the elders speak Yupik. Students will listen as they
are taught in a whole group setting about an important piece of local cultural
knowledge. After the elder shares, students will display what they have learned
through drawing, writing, and speaking about what they have heard.

This activity approaches language in a variety of ways and mediums. Students will
hear and retell information showing their a)funds of knowledge and b) by having
interaction with an elder and their peers.

A) Funds of knowledge
Moll et al (1992) describe funds of knowledge as the knowledge and skills found in
local households. They use this premise to argue that teachers who make us of this
knowledge will be able to organize their teaching that is more meaningful and of a
higher quality (p.1). This approach is particularly important in dealing with
students whose households are viewed as being poor, not only economically but in
terms of the quality of experiences for the child. (p.1).

Local knowledge of the natural world is very important in a practical way for many
students in Alaska. To be able to survive, they must possess knowledge of how to
handle a variety of situations that many other students will never experience. The
students who will participate in this activity have to travel over ice to arrive at
school and begin their educational day. By having a local elder come and share
knowledge that they have builds connections between the households and the
school. The cultural value of having an elder share from their funds of knowledge is
powerful. Many of the elders do not hold high degrees of education, but that by no
means minimalizes their intelligence. They have knowledge and wisdom that the
next generations need. It is important to allow students to hear from, interact with,
and report on what they have learned from elders.

B) Interaction
Ellis and Shintani (2014) state, It is mainly through interaction, especially through
conversational interaction, that learners make something of their linguistic
environment (p. 202). Learners take external data and internalize it in order to
make learning possible. Lightbown and Spada (2013) highlight the use of
paraphrase and repetition to modify their interaction.

During the activity, students will interact with the speaker by first receiving input
from them. At the conclusion of the talk, they will be able to display their
understanding by talking with peers and re-stating what was said by the elder about
ice safety.
LING 610

II. Description

Village elders are important resources for passing along this important information.
Invite an elder to come and talk to students about ice safety. Be sure to let the elder
know that they are welcome to share in their first language. Most of the students
are able to listen and comprehend what is being said.

Before the elder begins, instruct students to be careful listeners because they will
share three things that they hear. When the elder is speaking, model good listening
skills with the students.

Be sure to thank the speaker for sharing with the students. If they would like to be a
part of the following task, encourage them to stay and help students recall
information in their first language.

Task Cycle
Ask student to think about what they heard about ice safety.
Did they learn something new?
What is important for them to remember?
What should they have with them?
What should they do if the ice is not safe?
How can they keep from falling through the ice?
Brainstorm with the class some ideas of things that the students heard from the
elder. Help them construct their thoughts as they translate from Yupik into English.
Write them on the board so students are able to see the thoughts in writing.

Instruct students that the next step is to draw a picture illustrating what they
learned. Students should have plenty of time and supplies available to them during
this time. Explain that these pictures will be displayed along with their writing and
encourage them to do their best work.

After pictures are completed, give students a piece of lined paper. On their paper
have them write three sentences explaining their picture and what they learned
from the elder. Give them a time to explain their picture in Yupik or English as they
are comfortable.

Guide students through the process of gluing their picture and their writing onto a
piece of construction paper. Students should take their work home and show
parents and grandparents. They can connect what they heard at school and wrote
about with traditional knowledge from their own family members.

III. Reflection
LING 610

I enjoy having community members in the school and in the classroom. Im always
amazed at the way that student behavior changes. If I were to sit and talk to my
students for an extended period of time, it would not go well. They would be
squirming around and bothering each other. When an elder is speaking to them,
most of the time they sit quietly and listen.

I had gone back and forth over the order of this activity. I wasnt sure if it would be
more effective to have them write first and then draw or to draw first and then
write. Im happy with the results of allowing them time to draw and then write. It
seems like they were able to think while they were drawing. I even witnessed some
students telling others at their table about what they were thinking as they drew.

Im glad that the elder stayed to be with the kids while they worked. It was fun to
watch them interact in their first language. They were also able to exercise their
language skills by switching from Yupik to English depending on who they were
talking to.

LING 610
Ellis, R. & Shintani, N. (2014). Exploring Language Pedagogy through Second
Language Acquisition Research. New York, NY: Routledge.

Lightbown, P. & Spada, N. (2013). How Languages are Learned (4
ed.). New York,
NY: Oxford University Press.

Moll, L. C., Amanti, C., Neff, D., & Gonzalez, N. (1992). Funds of Knowledge for
Teaching: Using a Qualitative Approach to Connect Homes and Classrooms.
Theory into Practice, 31(2), 132-141.