The Twelve Core Values of the Inupiaq People - How do they fit in your Life?: A Writing Lesson

Lesson Preliminaries

Grade Level

This Learning Center is flexible, but was written for 5th through 8th graders.

Time required

This lesson can take 5 to 7 one-hour class periods, depending on whether all writing is done in class or as a homework assignment.

Classroom resources

In addition to information, images and video clips included in this learning center, teachers will need:

  • A map of the United States
  • A large map of Alaska
  • A collection of books to be read aloud to students that will enhance their understanding of the Iñupiaq culture. Some of the books are geared to very young children. Nonetheless, they are extremely helpful to students' learning about a culture that is new to them. I aquired some of these at the Ilisaġvik College Bookstore in Barrow.  You may be able to find these on or you could contact the college bookstore. The books include:
  1. Whale Snow by Debby Dahl Edwardson.  This story speaks to spirituality, cooperation, hunting traditions, knowledge of language, family and kinship, and respect for nature. For a learning activity using this book, visit the Whale of a Tale Learning Center on this web site.
  2. An Arctic Year by North Slope Borough ECHO Program. This book takes readers through each month and includes traditional Iñupiaq activities of each month as well as each core value.
  3. The Lamp, the Ice, and the Boat Called Fish by Jacqueline Briggs Martin.  This is a true account of the shipwreck of the Endurance and the Iñupiaq family that helped the crew survive.
  4. Berry Magic by Teri Sloat and Betty Huffmon.  Although Betty Huffmon is a Yup'ik Eskimo (rather than Iñupiaq) storyteller, this old story is pertinent to the Iñupiat because the berries are the same that I saw growing on the North Slope tundra and the book is a fine example of stories that are passed down through generations.

Learning Objectives and Lesson Overview

The first lesson consists of teaching background information to the students and discussing the meaning of each of the core values.  This may also go into the second day. The remaining days are spent in class writing. The final period consists of sharing.

The objectives of this lesson are as follows:

1. Students will learn about the traditional Iñupiaq life style of hunting for subsistence, and why this lifestyle is important to this region.

2. Students will be introduced to the Twelve Core Values of the Iñupiaq People and participate in a discussion of each value in order to gain full understanding.

3. Each student will choose a core value which he or she feels is present and important in his/her life and write an essay. The essay will define the core value and give an example of a time in the student's life when the core value was used successfully. Alternatively, the student to choose a core value that he/she feels the need to improve on. The student will give an example of a time he/she should have been more aware of the chosen core value.

4. Students will improve their writing through Learning Center activities.

Note: The teacher will decide which writing or grammar techniques to focus on. With this particular essay, I concentrate on topic sentences, segués, and conclusions. I also focus on voice because the voice actually changes in this piece from paragraph to paragraph. For example, the first paragraph is informative because it identifies the core value the student has chosen and defines what it means. The second paragraph or section (this can been longer than one paragraph) should be told as a story that actually happened in the student's life, thereby changing the voice from informative to personal. The final paragraph is a typical concluding paragraph that revisits the core value and reminds the reader why the student chose it by mentioning the story's outcome. It is punctuated with a strong concluding sentence. The last paragraph is a combination of informative and personal.