‘Nenana City School Fosters a Shared Love of Reading’ by Principal Dave Huntington

Nenana City School is a sub-grantee of Alaska’s Comprehensive Literacy Development Grant award. Part of our many initiatives to support and promote literacy in our student body has been the implementation of a quarterly book distribution. The idea is simple: Each student enrolled in our K-12 school receives a book each quarter. So far we have had a 100% participation rate in our student body, from Kindergarten to high school Seniors.

Depending on the grade level and students’ background, teachers have been consulting with students on their book of choice. However, the primary goal of this initiative is to promote leisure reading in students, and therefore students have the ultimate say in what it is they receive for their book distribution. One elementary teacher shared, “My students look forward to the book distribution every quarter and they have even started choosing the same books to read together!” 

Continue reading ‘Nenana City School Fosters a Shared Love of Reading’ by Principal Dave Huntington

‘The Art of Thriving as a Transplant Teacher’ by Angie Busch Alston

I never could have predicted that my teaching life would include arranging demonstrations involving marine mammals and holding my students inside because of polar bear warnings, but that’s exactly what happened.

My name is Angie. I teach high school in Brevig Mission, an Inupiaq village in the Bering Strait School District.

Brevig Mission, Alaska

It’s 2021, and I love my life in the village and my job at the school. I’ve gone from never having butchered a single animal to being able to make heart and tongue soup. I’m raising a daughter who can spot a berry patch from a distance and gets it right every time. Last year’s senior class had been in my class since sixth grade. There was a lot of growth in those years, and I got to witness it all. Continue reading ‘The Art of Thriving as a Transplant Teacher’ by Angie Busch Alston

‘LKSD Creates Curriculum to Revitalize Yup’ik Language and Culture’ by Noelle Dersé

For the Lower Kuskokwim School District (LKSD), staying local isn’t just a mandate during the pandemic — it’s a long term strategy for learning. Recognizing the need for language resources to boost proficiency in the Yup’ik language, as well as a desire for curriculum that students could relate to, the LKSD administration embarked on a multi-year project to create K-12 social studies and science curriculum that addresses both these needs.

With funds and direction from the Quyurramta (“All of Us Together”) grant from the U.S. Education Department’s Alaska Native Education Program, LKSD set out to translate existing texts (with generous permission from TCI publishers) into Yugtun, the Yup’ik language. Continue reading ‘LKSD Creates Curriculum to Revitalize Yup’ik Language and Culture’ by Noelle Dersé

‘Wrangell’s 6th Grade ASTE Presentation’ by Alana Harrison, Andrei Siekawitch, Jackson Carney, and Madelyn Davies

This year, the sixth grade class of the Stikine Middle School in Wrangell, Alaska presented at ASTE. ASTE is a technology conference that happens every year in February where people come from all over Alaska, and sometimes from all over the U.S., to watch presentations and present to others. ASTE stands for the “Alaska Society for Technology in Education.”

Continue reading ‘Wrangell’s 6th Grade ASTE Presentation’ by Alana Harrison, Andrei Siekawitch, Jackson Carney, and Madelyn Davies

‘My Passion: Creating Educational Resources that Celebrate Alaska Native Culture and Language’ by Raquel Schroeder

My name is Raquel Schroeder. I’m Bristol Bay Yup’ik and St. Lawrence Island Yupik with family ties in Bristol Bay and the Bering Strait. I’m a member of the Curyung Tribe and a Shareholder of the Bristol Bay Native Corporation.

I was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska and graduated from high school in 2010. I went to Wenatchee Valley College in Washington State and Iḷisaġvik Tribal College in Utqiaġvik, Alaska, where I earned a certificate in Early Childhood Indigenous Education. In this program, I learned the importance of culturally-responsive practices and the need for preservation of Indigenous cultures and languages.

I developed an interest in creating projects with art, design and technology that focus on Alaska Native cultures, languages and land. This is important to me because, as a mother and educator, I found there aren’t many easily-accessible resources that reflect the beauty of Alaska’s land and Indigenous peoples. With a lack of resources that reflect students’ environments, it can be difficult for them to find identity in learning, which may lead to social and academic issues in the long run. My goal is to celebrate and represent every student in the educational resources I create. Continue reading ‘My Passion: Creating Educational Resources that Celebrate Alaska Native Culture and Language’ by Raquel Schroeder

‘Picturing Your Future When the Internet Is Out’ by Jim Kreatschman at DOL

It was late August 2020 and I was still hopeful that things would turn around and students would be back in school. I received a call from Robert Whipple, a teacher in Hooper Bay.  He was looking for secondary transition resources for his students in special education.

Public school students who receive special education services have a ‘Transition Plan’ as part of their Individualized Education Program (IEP). The transition plan outlines goals unique to each student’s interests and strengths to ensure a smooth transition from school to college and/or training, work and community living.

Hooper Bay Village

Robert explained how his students had little to no access to the internet away from the school building.  He was only able to work with each student for 30 minutes a week on the phone and needed activities to help them focus on their own transition from school to adult life. Continue reading ‘Picturing Your Future When the Internet Is Out’ by Jim Kreatschman at DOL

‘Educators Carry Inspiration Back to Classrooms after the 10th Annual 2021 Alaska Effective Instruction Conference’ by Seanna O’Sullivan

Educators gathered virtually over the weekend of January 22-24 for the 10th Annual Alaska Staff Development Network (ASDN) 2021 Alaska Effective Instruction Conference, bridging the distance between school districts despite a challenging year.  

Topics ranged from building a positive school culture, supporting schoolwide literacy efforts, using data science in the classroom, positive ways to incorporate technology in teaching, how to authentically assess students during distance or blended learning, and social and emotional supports.  Continue reading ‘Educators Carry Inspiration Back to Classrooms after the 10th Annual 2021 Alaska Effective Instruction Conference’ by Seanna O’Sullivan

‘Place-Based Mathematics in YKSD Leads to Deeper Understanding’ by Morris White

The Yukon-Koyukuk School District (YKSD) has sponsored a series of math activities during the 2020-2021 academic year which have been organized around creating place-based math activities for students in the district, as well as advancing teacher’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK) 3 development as teachers of mathematics in multi-grade classrooms. The majority of teachers in YKSD are multi-subject educators who teach a variety of subjects, including math as part of their daily work in the classrooms.

The District’s math Specialist, Morris White, has coordinated the support for mathematics in YKSD during the 2020-2021 school year. Under Mr. White’s direction, and with the leadership of the District’s head of Teaching and Learning, Mr. Chane Beam, a series of place-based mathematics activities have been held at the majority of the district’s nine campuses.

Continue reading ‘Place-Based Mathematics in YKSD Leads to Deeper Understanding’ by Morris White

‘Learning Tools and Standards Lead To ‘Ah Ha’ Moments’ by Becky Walker and Pamela Verfaillie

Each year, students in Mrs. Walker’s junior English class research and write a persuasive essay.  This is one of the best known assignments at Valdez High School and is often approached by students with more trepidation than anticipation.

This year, thankfully, we are starting to see a shift in the mindset.  Ok, not the mindset BEFORE they start the assignment, but as the students progress, they come to understand the value of what they are learning.

Mrs. Verfaillie introducing databases.

Continue reading ‘Learning Tools and Standards Lead To ‘Ah Ha’ Moments’ by Becky Walker and Pamela Verfaillie

‘What Works: Tanana Middle Built Upon Its Strengths When The Learning Landscape Changed!’ by Tana Martin

Tanana Middle School in Fairbanks, Alaska has a 40+ year history of excellence. Tanana serves about 350 students in grades 7 & 8. About one third of our students are part of families with a member serving at Fort Wainwright, a US Army post adjacent to the school. 

When COVID hit in March of 2020, school immediately shifted to remote learning. Our captain, Principal Carla Marquand, called on Tanana staff to rise to the challenge.  She knew her crew was capable.  We had to stretch a bit farther outside our comfort zones. We took a deep breath, adjusted, & built upon our strengths.  We didn’t reinvent the helm…we simply changed direction of the ship. Collaboration, Chromebooks, & communication were assets our Tanana crew already possessed.  When everything about “doing school” changed on a dime, Tanana was prepared to succeed. Continue reading ‘What Works: Tanana Middle Built Upon Its Strengths When The Learning Landscape Changed!’ by Tana Martin