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3 Literacy Ideas to Spark Joy in Your Classroom

Monday, December 02, 2019 by Francesca Varga

3 Literacy Ideas to Spark Joy in Your Classroom - Higher-Powered Learning

My classroom layout matched the colorful, vibrant personalities of my students. And similar to the lovely, ever-changing, adolescent personality, my classroom was constantly changing. I am a big fan of the flex model, particularly for older students because it gives teachers more flexibility to pull groups or individual students. I constantly adjusted my groups to keep instruction “fresh,” as my kids called it. My flexible groups also removed the stigma that can sometimes accompany ability grouping.

Reteaching: Giving Students Extra Scaffolding to Reach their Goals

Monday, November 18, 2019 by Kourtney Bradshaw-Clay

Blended Learning Reteaching

You finish a class and think to yourself, “Wow! What a wonderful lesson. I can’t wait to grade these exit tickets.” 

However, after grading, you find a handful of your students ROCKED the lesson–but a group of students completely misunderstood the concept. How will you make sure these students don’t fall behind on future lessons?

Reteaching small groups of students is an effective way to ensure students receive instruction that targets their misconceptions.

Creating Equity Through Small-Group Instruction

Monday, November 04, 2019 by Kourtney Bradshaw-Clay

Small Group Instruction: Pre-Teach

Some may wonder, “If I have blended-learning, what is the point of pre-teaching concepts if I can go back and remediate?” In response to this question, a significant element of blended learning is equity: giving students exactly what they need. When teaching a whole-group lesson, every student must be able to access the lesson's objective. Equity is the reason why pre-teaching is essential.

When considering pre-teaching, the next logical question is:

How do I know which students will be in my pre-teach small group?

The Sacredness of Small-Group Instruction

Monday, October 21, 2019 by Kourtney Bradshaw-Clay

Higher Powered Learning Blog

As an educator, small-group instruction time was always sacred.

Students knew there had to be an emergency if they interrupted my dedicated time with a small group of their peers. My students valued the intimate time they got to spend with me, and I treasured the opportunity to know my students better as learners and as people. To make the time most effective, I tailored my small-group instruction to the needs of my students. 

For the next few weeks, we will focus on formats that have produced effective small-group instruction. 

Innovation Spotlight: Archdiocese of New Orleans

Tuesday, October 08, 2019 by Fr. Nate Wills, C.S.C.

Higher-Powered Learning Blog - New OrleansSt. Cletus School in New Orleans

Minneapolis/St. Paul and New Orleans share some obvious similarities: both are cities on the Mississippi River, both are home to musical legends (Louis Armstrong from “the Big Easy” and Prince from the “Twin Cities”), and the food is… okay, yeah, the food is just way better in New Orleans. Never mind. 

How Does Homework Fit into a Blended-Learning Classroom?

Monday, September 23, 2019 by Francesca Varga

How Does Homework Fit into a Blended-Learning Classroom?

As a former secondary English teacher, I battled the homework question many times throughout my ten years of teaching. On the one hand, homework, particularly reading homework, was necessary for students to build their literacy skills and stay on top of classwork. When studying a novel, assigning 20 pages of daily reading during class was not an effective use of class time. However, if I gave too much homework (more than 20 minutes or so of reading, unnecessary worksheets for extra practice, etc.) then students would not complete it.

The Triple D Protocol

Monday, September 09, 2019 by Kourtney Bradshaw-Clay

Triple D Protocol

When I think of Triple D, I am reminded of my favorite show nicknamed Triple D (aka Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.) This culinary show is hosted by the immeasurably enthusiastic Guy Fieri. Everyone has something that they are “immeasurably enthusiastic” about, and for me, it is data. I used to go nuts about analyzing the progress my students had made. Now, I go nuts about measuring the progress our partner schools are making in Minneapolis.

In this post, I will spill the beans on three quick tips for practical data analysis – otherwise known as the Triple D Protocol. Please, take all my food idioms along the way with a pinch of salt.

Blended Learning and the Social-Emotional Connection

Monday, August 26, 2019 by Kourtney Bradshaw-Clay

Higher-Powered Learning - Social-Emotional Connection

A growing body of thought emphasizes the importance of blended learning as a complement to social-emotional learning. The Christensen Institute recently wrote about how blended learning can build relationships between teachers and students. Today, we discuss three ways we’ve seen blended learning improve the social-emotional landscape in classrooms. 

Go Back to School Like a PRO!

Monday, August 12, 2019 by Francesca Varga Kourtney Bradshaw-Clay

Higher-Powered Learning - Go Back to School Like a PRO

It is hard to believe that the lazy days of summer are coming to an end. School supplies and backpacks have replaced summer toys, and teachers are planning schedules, procedures, and classrooms for the upcoming year. If you are implementing blended learning in your school this year, here are some quick tips to start your year off as a PRO!

“Why Blended Learning?” ACE Teaching Fellows Respond from the Heart

Tuesday, July 30, 2019 by Fr. Nate Wills, C.S.C.

Why Blended Learning? - ACE Teaching Fellows Elective

For the last several years, we have been invited to teach a summer course for our second-year ACE Teaching Fellows. These are teachers who already have a year of teaching and now want to improve their teaching practice. They take our class as an elective, so they’re making the choice to take an elective instead of having a couple hours of free time in the afternoon. It’s not surprising, therefore, that these students were incredibly motivated to learn how to use technology for meaningful differentiation. Over the course of the class, we introduced them to blended learning, created learner profiles, discussed classroom management and procedures in a blended-learning classroom, explored software, dove deep into data-informed instruction, and talked about planning for success. Whew! It was a lot, packed into a short amount of time, and this group of students was particularly energetic, creative, hard-working, and hungry to be better teachers for their kids.

5 Things You Need to Know About Blended Learning

Tuesday, July 16, 2019 by Francesca Varga Kourtney Bradshaw-Clay

5 Things You Need to Know about Blended Learning

It seems like just yesterday we were beginning our journey with five schools in the Twin Cities. On the last day of professional development, we asked our teams to reflect on what they learned about implementing blended learning. We asked, “What is one thing you know now that you would offer to someone who is just getting started?” We received many thoughtful responses that centered around five major themes. 

How Exploration Led to Blended Learning

Tuesday, July 02, 2019 by Kourtney Bradshaw-Clay

How Exploration Led to Blended Learning

Hi there Higher-Powered Learning blog readers! Today, I have the pleasure of introducing the newest member of our Higher-Powered Learning team: Kourtney Bradshaw. 

Kourtney is a native of North Carolina and attended the University of North Carolina for her undergrad. She then moved to Baltimore to teach and attain her M.Ed. Most recently, Kourtney taught Kindergarten-2nd grade at KIPP One in Chicago. She came to understand and utilize blended learning in the best way possible: organically, thoughtfully, and because she wanted to provide her students with a better education that met the needs of ALL students.

Kourtney joined our Higher-Powered Learning team last month and by day three, she was traveling with us to our spring professional development in Minnesota. Her relentless curiosity, real-world experience, and caring approach quickly endeared her to our BLAST members in Minnesota. I’m thrilled to introduce Kourtney to you all and for you to read her great blog post below. We’re eager to help teachers meaningfully utilize technology in the context of Catholic education to help them engage in Higher-Powered Learning!

-Fr. Nate Wills, CSC
Director, Higher-Powered Learning Program

One Year Ago Today

Monday, June 17, 2019

One Year Ago Today

Last week, we had the privilege of spending three days with the members of the Higher-Powered Learning Program in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. This time together served two purposes: to reflect on the first year of implementation and to prepare for the next year of coaching and continuous improvement (check out the timeline to learn more about the structure of the program).

How to Combat the Summer Slide with Technology

Monday, June 03, 2019

Higher-Powered Learning - Combat the Summer Slide

If you’re anything like me, your mind is probably already on summer. Whether your students finished classes just before Memorial Day weekend or will be doing so within the next few weeks, I would guess that you’re ready for a little break from the early mornings and long days of school.

Is Blended Learning Just a Glorified Form of "Tracking" Students?

Monday, May 20, 2019

Higher-Powered Learning - University of Notre Dame - Mixed Groups

One of the most common concerns with blended learning is that it is a glorified form of "tracking" students. In case you are not familiar with the term, “tracking” refers to separating students by performance level and differentiating their instruction accordingly. The reason this method is called tracking is because students are typically put on an academic track at a young age and often stay on that track for the rest of their academic careers.

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