RUE Episode 29 Alaska Rails and State Reports

Ramping Up your English takes you to the wild interior of Alaska on Alaska Rails and shows how to write the basics of a state report.

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Alaska became part of the United States of American when the U.S. bought it from Russia back in the 1860’s. Alaska became the 49th state to join the Union and now holds the county’s largest national parks, including Denali, where we catch the train to Talkeetna. Clear flowing rivers, towering  mountains, beaver dams, and mountain lakes are all visible on this train ride.

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Watch Segment One by clicking here

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Segment 3

State Reports

Alaska would be a great choice for someone tasked with writing a state report.  All states have their symbols.  You can find them on the internet easily enough, but how do you write about them?  That’s the focus of this episode.

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Language Objective: Use possessive forms of nouns and possessive pronouns to convey simple facts about a state. We also delve into the role played by apostrophes in establishing possessive forms.

Academic Content Objectives:Geography: Name and describe some of the land forms encountered in Alaska’s interior. Report on the state symbols of a state. Assemble information about a state for use in a report. Maps: Locate sites on a map of a state. Trace the route of the Alaska Railroad on a state map. Identify a National Park in the state of Alaska.

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Just one of the breathtaking views from Alaska Rails.

Writing the Report

When communicating the facts about a state, there are multiple ways of writing about them. You can state the feature and then use the word “of” to link it to the state, as shown first in the slide below. Alternately, you can use the possessive form of the noun. When you click on a slide below, it should fill the page.  Use the back arrow to return to this page on the website.

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These are both correct ways to link the forget-me-not to Alaska as the state flower. The first example avoids using the possessive form. The second example uses the possessive form of the proper noun Alaska.
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Use the same form for relating the length of Alaska’s coastline (which is 6,640 miles!). You would want this fact in your report, as it’s longer that the coastline of the lower 48 states combined!
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Notice what appears to be a comma hanging in the air. This is an apostrophe and it’s used to show possession. It’s also used in a contraction, as covered in an earlier episode.
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If the possessive noun is plural and ending in the letter “S”, the apostrophe comes at the end of the word, after the S.
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It’s more common to see the apostrophe on a singular possessive noun. It comes BEFORE the S.
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Alaska’s state flag features stars on a blue background. The stars are arranged like the Big Dipper constellation and the North Star. Here we use a fact about the flag without using the possessive form, and then using the possessive form.
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To avoid overusing the proper noun Alaska, we can us the possessive pronoun “its” as long as we’ve already established that we’re writing about Alaska. “Its” is the pronoun, and we call “Alaska” the antecedent.
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It’s important to note that the possessive pronoun “its” does NOT have an apostrophe. The word “it’s” at the beginning of the sentence is not a possessive pronoun because it has an apostrophe. The word “it’s” is a contraction for “it is.”
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Use this sentence frame to practice with the facts below about Alaska.

Alaska Facts

Highest Mountain: Mount McKinley (Danali)

Capital: Juneau

Population Density: Two people per square mile.

Main Revenue Source: Oil and natural gas

State tree: Sitka spruce

State sport: dog mushing

State Motto: North to the Future

State gemstone: Jade

State Mineral: Gold

Largest City: Anchorage

Helpful Links

For  more facts about Alaska, click here.

To visit the webpage of Alaska’s government, click here.

Next, Ramping Up your English takes you South, way south to Amtrak’s Surfliner train. Click on the Episode 30 page to see what’s next.