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The ACE Blog

Surveying the Learning Environment - Part 1: Qualities of Successful Learning Environments

Monday, March 01, 2021 by Brian Scully

Higher-Powered Learning - Surveying the Learning Environment

Your class is just… different now. In fact, it’s undergone numerous iterations, reversals, and adjustments of which “different” it is. Room layout changes one week, then distance learning the next, and sometimes your class is moved completely outside. Through all the tumult, you must cultivate a learning environment that serves your students: mind, body, and soul.

"The mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart."

Wednesday, February 10, 2021 by Connor Ruff | Frassati Intern - Cohort 3 | Computer Science ‘22 | Archdiocese of Chicago

Connor Ruff Frassati Internship

"The mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart."

To a Notre Dame student, these words, plastered around University advertisements and brochures, perhaps have become a bit trite. But the Frassati Internship dares you to consider this idea beyond just your First Year Experience course and gives you the opportunity to do so.

What Catholic Education Has Taught Me

Tuesday, February 09, 2021 by Rachel Rell | Frassati Intern - Cohort 3 | Marketing and Theology ‘22 | National Catholic Educational Association

From kindergarten through eighth grade, I attended a very small Catholic school in central Wisconsin. St. Francis was the only Catholic school in my town, and one of only fourteen Catholic elementary schools in the northern half of the state. I certainly enjoyed my time at St. Francis, but saying that I moved on to high school and college without fully recognizing the impact my school and church had on my life would be an understatement.

Celebrate Good Times? Even Amid a Pandemic, Catholic Schools Bring the Joy

Monday, February 01, 2021 by Tim Will

Celebrate Good Times? Even Amid a Pandemic, Catholic Schools Bring the Joy

“Umm...what are we celebrating, Miss Ogden?”

The voice came through Kathy Ogden’s computer speakers, barely audible over the uplifting beats of “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang.

“We just finished our first full day of virtual learning!” was Kathy’s energetic answer.

The Road to Inclusion

Friday, January 29, 2021 by Patti O'Donnell, PIE 2 - Principal, St. Patrick Catholic School in Malvern, PA

The Road to Inclusion - Patti O'Donnell, Program for Inclusive Education at the University of Notre Dame

The Program for Inclusive Education (PIE) is pleased to include educators (teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, etc.) in the 18-credit hour program. Any educator who would like to learn about serving ALL students inclusively is welcome. Patti O’Donnell is a member of the PIE 2 cohort and the principal of St. Patrick Catholic School—a blue ribbon Catholic school in Malvern, Pennsylvania. She has a heart for inclusive education and has transformed her school. Patti serves as the guest author for PIE’s February 2021 blog. Thank you, Patti, for your tireless efforts and good works as you welcome, serve, and celebrate ALL students at St. Pat’s!

~Christie Bonfiglio, Ph.D.; Director of the Program for Inclusive Education

PIE...A Perfect Addition to Your Educational Training

Sunday, January 03, 2021 by Jessica Martin - PIE 3, ACE 24 - St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic School (Dallas, TX)

The Program for Inclusive Education (PIE) trains educators from all across the country of varying ages, ethnicities, and content backgrounds. It is our sincere pleasure when an ACE graduate joins our mission.

Jessica Martin of PIE 3 was one of those ACE Teachers with a heart for inclusion and a passion to learn more. She shares her story and advocates that others take the next step on their educational journey and prepare for ALL learners.

I am grateful that Jessica works tirelessly to welcome, serve, and celebrate ALL students! Thank you, Jess, for your good works!

~Christie Bonfiglio, Ph.D.; Director of the Program for Inclusive Education

Making Pandemic Changes Count: Part 3 - Shape the Path to Change

Monday, December 07, 2020 by Brian Scully

"Switched" by brendonhatcher is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0"Switched" by brendonhatcher is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Large-scale school change is possible and can come from the leadership of individual teachers. Higher-Powered Learning has contextualized the first two pieces of Chip and Dan Heath’s Switch framework for school change, directing the rational side and motivating the emotional side. In this final post, we will consider how to shape the situational context of change. We hope this series will promote school improvement as an expectation in your school, even beyond  the pandemic. This, of course, requires you to be the leader.

From PIE’s Desk to Yours

Friday, December 04, 2020 by By: PIE 2 Educators with an Introductory Excerpt by Jenny Zander, Early Childhood Center Director - St. Theresa Catholic School in Phoenix, AZ

PIE Blog - From PIE's Desk to Yours!

The Program for Inclusive Education (PIE) presents a special resource this month: From PIE’s Desk to Yours. We hope you enjoy words of affirmation from inclusive educators who participated with our second cohort. The PIE 2 educators have witnessed struggles and successes, yearned for more for every student, and joined our mission to ensure everyone has a seat at the table. In addition to their encouragement, they each provide an evidence-based practice (EBP) that they learned during PIE, which is dedicated to effectively supporting diverse learners in their classrooms. Jenny Zander writes the introductory excerpt, and we hope you will explore the remaining EBPs for implementation in your classroom. Many thanks to the amazing inclusive educators who continue to give their very best and welcome, serve, and celebrate all students in Catholic schools!

~Christie Bonfiglio, Ph.D.; Director of the Program for Inclusive Education

Making Pandemic Changes Count: Part 2 - Motivate the Emotional Side

Monday, November 30, 2020 by Brian Scully

"File:Macbook Pro Power Button - Macro (5477920228).jpg" by vincentq from Melbourne, Australia is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0"File:Macbook Pro Power Button - Macro (5477920228).jpg" by vincentq from Melbourne, Australia is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Every day we see schools changing in response to the pandemic: new procedures, hybrid classes, increased engagement with technology. You can ensure these changes are not made haphazardly. You can ensure these changes count. 

Think of this time of imposed change as an opportunity to lead your school toward positive student outcomes and lasting school improvements. In Part 1 of this series, inspired by Chip and Dan Heath’s Switch, we presented tactics to lead fellow teachers by engaging the rational side of change-making. This week we will discuss motivating the emotional side.

Making Pandemic Changes Count: Part 1 - Direct the Rational Side

Monday, November 23, 2020 by Brian Scully

"Old Light Switches" by Orange Steeler is licensed under CC BY 2.0"Old Light Switches" by Orange Steeler is licensed under CC BY 2.0

School change can be intimidating, arduous, and bumpy–like riding a mountain bike down a curvy path. With the added complication of pandemic accommodations, changing your school’s trajectory may seem ill-advised or impossible. We argue that now is precisely the moment to take a close look at your school’s path, particularly with regard to technology. We are already in a period of school change; you and your fellow teachers are already making decisions about the new identity of your classes. How will you ensure the changes you make are meaningful, positive, and lasting? How will you leverage this difficulty into an opportunity?

Finding Grace in the Daily Drive

Monday, November 23, 2020 by Kenna Arana

ACE Teaching Fellows - Finding Grace in the Daily Drive

Whitney Lim and Raymond Moylan never know what their daily drive down Broad Street in Philadelphia will bring, but they both agree that it’s grace-filled.

As first-year teachers in ACE 27 and community members, they’re part of a long ACE tradition: carpool buddies. That means mornings and afternoons swapping stories and reliving the fun parts of the day together.

Adapting Lesson Plans for COVID-19 Guidelines

Monday, November 09, 2020 by Brian Scully

Higher-Powered Learning - ACE Blended Learning

Your class undoubtedly looks different than it did one year ago. Still, you must teach the same information with the same quality you did one year ago. How?

Whether you are distance learning, in-person, or hybrid, safety guidelines necessitate alterations to your lesson planning. Recreating lessons from top to bottom may be unfeasible right now, and understandably so. (Frankly, this may feel unfeasible during the best of times). Adapting past lesson plans using current guidelines helps maintain rigorous learning goals and precludes abandoning hard work from previous years. Below are some suggestions for adapting lessons to COVID-19 guidelines as you:

Build and Never Give Up!

Friday, October 30, 2020 by By: Jill Reffett - Executive Director, Enriching Many By Reaching All in Catholic Education (EMBRACE) Kansas City, KS & Jeanne Loftis - Co-Founder, Oregon Inclusive Catholic Education (Oregon ICE) Portland, OR

The Program for Inclusive Education is pleased to introduce Jill Reffett and Jeanne Loftis, two amazing advocates for inclusion in Catholic schools. Both women direct non-profit organizations that advocate and provide support for Catholic schools in their pursuit to include ALL students. Jill is the executive director of EMBRACE and Jeanne co-founded Oregon ICE. PIE will highlight these organizations in individual blogs, but now we highlight their personal journeys as mothers of children with Down syndrome on the heels of Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Thank you, Jill and Jeanne for your tireless efforts to welcome, serve, and celebrate ALL students, as well as your personal accounts! 

~Christie Bonfiglio, Ph.D.; Director of the Program for Inclusive Education

Where Two or Three Gather: Christocentric Distance Learning

Monday, October 26, 2020 by Brian Scully

Higher-Powered Learning - ACE Blended Learning

“[St. Francis called] for a love that transcends the barriers of geography and distance, and declares blessed all those who love their brother ‘as much when he is far away from him as when he is with him.’”

The opening paragraph to Pope Francis’s new encyclical Fratelli tutti reminds Catholic schools of their extraordinary task, fostering an environment of genuine care towards and among our students. Our schools look very different than they have in past years. The call remains: to acknowledge, include, and love each person.

How do we promote true fraternal love among distanced students? How do we deepen our schools’ Christocentric actions? We will look into three aspects of a Christocentric environment—community, tradition, and witness—and some approaches to promoting them through distance learning.

Music To My Ears: Technology in the Performing Arts Classroom

Monday, October 12, 2020 by Brian Scully

Music to My Ears - ACE Higher-Powered Learning

When conceptualizing blended learning, we often think of subjects like math, science, and reading comprehension. Performing arts may seem like it’s on the opposite side of the learning spectrum from technology — “calculation” vs. “inspiration.” Can computers ever enhance performing arts instruction? Brian Scully, the newest member of the HPL Team, writes about his experience teaching music through blended learning and the gift of personalization that technology brought to his classroom.

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