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Arctic Blast 2001

Education Curriculum & Lesson Plans

Online Classroom Dogsled Expedition


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"Weekly Topic & News" is posted here every Monday by 7 a.m. CST

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"The Weekly Topic and News" merges the expedition, educational goals, and the needs of teachers. It is the most important component of your online classroom expedition.

Start each week with an in-depth look at this page.

The topic of the week is emphasized with clearly presented, facts and information supplementing each unit of the curriculum package.

Information is also provided to help make real world connections, investigate personal values and discuss current issues.

Completing the circle, the weekly topic will also be highlighted from the Arctic Blast explorers.

Using the sights, sounds, and wilderness perspectives of the arctic facilitate meaningful and energized classes.

The Weekly Topic and News integrates the nationally accredited, K through 12, Nunavut curriculum package and the weekly reports from the expedition. This is where the adventure of collaborative learning really begins.

WEEK 8:
Language is Life!



Letters make up words, words make up sentences, sentences make up paragraphs, and when you have a bunch of paragraphs, well... that’s a story! Words come alive in a story. Words transform everyday objects and thoughts into vivid images. They act like a magician’s wand casting sentence spells with a subtle flick of the wrist. A word can communicate feeling, emotion, and meaning.

Take the word “pencil” for example. Its fairly ordinary as words go: not too long or short, two vowels, four consonants, the letter C has soft “ess” sound. We all know a pencil is exactly what it is - a pencil. Pretty simple, right? Not so fast there... I know I have my magic wand around here somewhere. Ahh, there it is, under all those dirty socks. Oooeewww, its a little stinky but it should still work. Here it goes, “abbra cadabra sled dog a lama.” Walla, the plain and ordinary word “pencil” is now...

Floating effortlessly a few inches in front of my face. Wait a minute, its turning blue, brown, pink, and green with purple stripes. Now the colorful word is floating higher and higher, lilting back and forth on slight breezes. It looks so peaceful and serene from way down here. Wow, that is one talented word. The word pencil is now jetting back and forth at supersonic speeds. I see a blur of letters as the word flies through a series of rolls and loops. Oh no! It just stopped and is falling like brick straight towards me. Did it run out of gas? Its losing its beautiful purple stripes. Has it transformed back into an ordinary word? I’d better do something fast; this is one crazy word. Where is that magic wand?

Using a pencil as an example, it is easy to see that words can be crafted within a story to communicate different ideas. They are a very important aspect of communication and language. However, written words do not represent all the distinctive sounds of a language. On the other hand, books, letters, TV commercials, newspapers, sign language, posters, and spoken words are all forms of communication as well. Taken as a whole, written, verbal, and visual language and communications represent a specific culture.

According to the Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia, “Language is communication among human beings that is characterized by the use of arbitrary spoken or written symbols with agreed-upon meanings. More broadly, language may be defined as communication in general; it is regarded by some linguists as a form of knowledge, that is, of thought or cognition.” You may want to read that definition twice.

The Inuit language has existed for hundreds of years. History, education, and knowledge were all passed from generation to generation orally. However, a writing system was only introduced a little over one hundred years ago. Today dialects and accents vary from region to region, but Inuktitut is still considered a single language. Many areas write the language using the roman alphabet others use a form of writing called syllabics, a phonetic form of writing that was developed by Rev. James Evens for the Cree, adapted for the Inuit in the later part of the 1800’s. This was method was further standardized in the late 1970’s. The continuing use of Inuktitut has brought pride and a cultural identity to the people of Nunavut.

Consider this explanation on the nature of the Inuktitut language The following is an excerpt from Nunavut ’99 published by Michael Roberts, “ In English, and in most other European languages, a sentence is a string of beads. Each bead is a tiny little word, and the beads are strung together to make meaning. But in Inuktitut the words are like LegoTM blocks, intricate pieces locked together to produce a nugget of meaning.”

Our vocal chords, face and hands, grammar teachers, and body gestures allow each of us to share opinions and views. People are social creatures. We need to communicate with one another. Language transcends everything it the glue that connects us all.

To investigate how language affects our cultural identity visit the Collaboration Zone, “Who Am I.”

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