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Yup'ik RavenStorytelling in the Yup’ik Immersion Classroom

My classroom (first and second grade)

I taught a class of 19 first and second grade students at Ayaprun Elitnaurvik in 2007-2008. Most of them spoke Yup’ik as a second language; a few came from Yup’ik speaking homes. Although the Yup’ik speaking students were not in school to learn the oral language, their parents wanted them to learn academics in the child’s first language. From my observation, these students enhanced the program because they modeled Yup’ik fluency and their peers wanted to speak in Yup’ik like they did. On occasion first language students openly corrected improperly spoken Yup’ik of second language learners.

A typical day began at 8:40 a.m. when I took attendance, took lunch count, and went over our job chart. We would recite from a poster that tells the recommended behavior expectations of their grandparents and parents in their absence. We would review good listening behavior, recite the pledge of allegiance, and recite the Yuuyaraq, the Yup’ik philosophy of good living. Then, we would practice about ten minutes of TPR Storytelling activities. My students who spoke fluently were just as enthusiastic about the TPR Storytelling stories as the Yup’ik second language learners. I tried varying amounts of time for the TPR Storytelling activities and ten minutes per day seemed to be just enough practice to present a short skit during our weekly Friday Morning Showcase with my first and second grade. Longer periods might work better for older students.

I would introduce a new TPR Storytelling story on Monday mornings. I would first tell the story without a title. After retelling, I would ask them to think of a good title for the story. This exercise meets a reading standard where students select the main idea after hearing a text (Alaska R1.5). As mentioned above, I used a plastic cup full of tongue depressors with names on them to select characters. This gave more reserved students a chance to shine. Throughout the week we would make minor adjustments to the story or the actions. By Thursday, they were ready to perform on their own.

Every Friday all classrooms (kindergarten, first and second grades) met in one classroom where each class gave a presentation of songs, finger-plays, Eskimo dancing, storybook reading or, more than occasionally with my students, a TPR Storytelling skit. Our site administrator/teacher led our school’s Friday Morning Showcase. We began by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, singing the American Anthem song and reciting the Yuuyaraq. The students then took turns with their performances. When my students performed a TPR Storytelling skit, they all stood in a line while the actors played their roles. In unison, the students would say, Una qanemciuguq...‘This is a story about…’. Usually I would cue them to begin the story and my gestures helped students find their place. There were times when my students were so anxious to begin the story, they started without me. A few times that year I had to be out on a Friday and they performed without me. As you might imagine, they performed just as well on their own.

When I first started selecting the stories, I used some of the stories from Marsh and Anderson (1998) Tell Me More!. As time went on, I began to write short stories and at times focused on errors that my students were making. For example I wrote a story about a student who wanted to sharpen his pencil as previously shared.





Table of Contents

Acknowledgements Introduction What is TPR Storytelling?
Total Physical Response The Natural Approach General Steps of TPR Storytelling
My Classroom: First and Second Grade Sample Mini-Stories References
Additional Resources Project (pdf)  



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Last modified April 7, 2011