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Fostering Classroom Communities with eLearning

Tuesday, April 28, 2020 by Kourtney Bradshaw-Clay

Brigid Krause - Higher-Powered Learning Program

A month ago, schools across the country shut down and teachers prepared themselves and their students for eLearning. Many teachers and school leaders across the country scrambled to find resources to support their students. During this transition, Brigid Krause, a third-grade teacher at Community of Saints Regional Catholic School in West St. Paul, Minnesota, was concerned with acknowledging her students' needs while recreating her classroom community in an online setting. She followed a set of simple teaching practices to guide her transition to eLearning.

A Blessing of Technology: Modern Tea Time

Wednesday, April 22, 2020 by Audrey Scott

Sarah Slack ENL Hernandez Fellow“Teaching at Our Lady of Charity is my absolute favorite thing to do in the world,” says Sarah Slack, a member of the Hernandez Fellows’ 14th cohort. “I was homeschooled for middle-school, and my mom did this three o’clock hour with us every day. We would all come to the kitchen table, say the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and then she would read to us. That’s how we read the whole Narnia series. I remember those times being, truly, so peaceful. That time was when my faith started to become my own and really started to flourish, so I wanted to try to do something like that for my kids.

What Will You Do?

Tuesday, April 21, 2020 by Katie Willis - ACE 25, Santa Ana

25 Santa Ana WillisWhen my school first shut down, my first thoughts were of all the things I could no longer do: see my kids, hang out with friends, or coach lacrosse. These thoughts were followed by all the things I was suddenly expected to do: teach online, stay in the house, and be “normal.” These seemed like impossible tasks, each riddled with challenges. 

Teach online? You may as well tell me I’m a first-summer ACE teacher leading practicum lessons the next day with no idea what a lesson plan is. 

Stay within the same four walls all day? I thrive off a busy schedule. I went from having a ready-made schedule to facing expectations of creating and sticking to a new routine, separating work and home life, and juggling family and friends. I struggled to handle it.

But in a recent conversation with my mom, she asked me to contemplate all the new things I could do during quarantine. 

Finding New Blessings

Wednesday, April 15, 2020 by Matt Sheber-Howard - ACE 25, Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City Skyline

This was supposed to be a “victory tour.” These post-spring break weeks were supposed to be a wonderful celebratory string of “lasts” at Mount St. Mary Catholic High School, a place that has meant so much to me for two years. This was supposed to be an incredible conclusion to an incredible two years. This is not how it was supposed to be.

Choose to Delight

Monday, April 13, 2020 by Shaughn Smith - ACE 26, Washington DC

Shaughn Smith ACE 26 DC - Virtual Field TripKenai Fjords National Park in Alaska | Photo from Wikimedia Commons

“Awe is going to rush in... Accept reality as it is and choose to delight in the present moment. Stay anchored there. That’s where the peace is, and that is where we are saved.”

Fr. Gregory Boyle, SJ, shared these words last week as viewers across the country gathered behind screens and listened to a unifying message about searching for hope amidst these trying times.

Be Not Afraid: Lessons through eLearning

Monday, April 13, 2020 by Francesca Varga

Be Not Afraid - Higher-Powered Learning

Did you know that the phrase “Be not afraid” is used in the Bible 365 times? Talk about a daily message from God! Fear is a great divider. It causes distance between people. It blocks grace from flowing freely and prevents ingenuity. Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”

It is unrealistic during these times to never feel afraid, but I urge you to allow your faith to be bigger than your fear and to look for the things that are more important than fear.

Here are three truths that God has affirmed for me during these past few weeks. These truths inspire me to work for “something more important than fear.”

Together, We Can Do Hard Things!

Monday, April 13, 2020 by Christine Bonfiglio, Ph.D.

Photo by Guille Álvarez on Unsplash

The Program for Inclusive Education (PIE) would like to take this opportunity to applaud and thank Catholic school educators for their innovation and persistence in meeting the needs of all students. We are in an unprecedented time-both personally and professionally, and your dedication to your students is commended. Please know of our thoughts and prayers as you continue your good work on behalf of ALL students.

Find the Joy

Tuesday, March 31, 2020 by Tom Bergan - ACE 26, Louisville

Find the Joy

Xavier University has a prayer index on their website that I stumbled upon while I was searching for religion class resources at the beginning of the school year. Throughout this year, my fifth graders and I have used this index to find prayers of peace in times of global conflict, prayers for the environment in response to natural disasters, and prayers from other religions in efforts to increase our understanding of other faith traditions.

Ideas for eLearning!

Monday, March 16, 2020 by Francesca Varga

Higher-Powered Learning - eLearning

Thanks to advancements in technology and all the online resources available, social distancing does not have to mean breaks in learning. Although learning may look different for a short period of time, eLearning provides wonderful opportunities for innovation outside the traditional classroom setting. Read on to learn more!

It Takes a Village

Monday, March 02, 2020 by Michael Fisher and Ginny McMillan, PIE 2 Cohort - John Carroll Catholic High School, Birmingham, AL

Program for Inclusive Education at the University of Notre Dame  - It Takes a Village

The Program for Inclusive Education is grateful for the many dedicated educators that support and advocate for inclusion in Catholic schools. It is my privilege to welcome Michael Fisher and Ginny McMillan from John Carroll Catholic High School in Birmingham, Alabama, as guest authors. Michael and Ginny were members of the PIE 2 cohort, and here they share their experience and the value of participating together. Thank you, Michael and Ginny, for your tireless efforts towards inclusive education!

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

Roses are red, violets are blue, I love blended learning, and you should, too!

Monday, February 24, 2020 by Francesca Varga

hplloveblendedlearning720

Higher-Powered Learning - ACE Blended Learning

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I am taking some time to think about the reasons why I love blended learning. Of course, blended learning yields an extensive list of academic benefits, but what excites me even more is the social-emotional learning blended learning supports.

When properly executed, blended learning creates a classroom environment where personalized instruction happens for each student. I could write a book sharing stories and reasons why I love blended learning. But our teachers can do a much better job! Today I am honored to share the spotlight with two wonderful teachers in our Higher-Powered Learning Program (HPLP) who will help me share the love!

Be Thou My Vision, O Lord of My Heart

Monday, February 24, 2020 by Sarah Perkins - National Adjunct Faculty, The Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program

Be Thou My Vision

One of my favorite hymns to sing in prayer or at Mass is set to the Irish folk tune Slane. I grew up knowing this hymn as “Lord of All Hopefulness”:

Lord of all hopefulness,
Lord of all joy,
Whose trust, ever childlike, no cares can destroy;
Be there at our waking, and give us, we pray,
Your bliss in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day…

Recently, I discovered another set of words to this tune, which were new to me but (apparently!) have been widely in use for decades:

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that thou art
Thou my best thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light...

Though this version employs a structure and a vocabulary that wouldn’t come naturally to me in spoken prayer, I am finding it easy to sing, particularly to my three-month-old son, Joseph. I am especially drawn to the core petition of this hymn: Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart.

What would it look like to live each day with the Lord as my “vision”?

I think my 3-month old son Joseph is my best model of this way of seeing. From their earliest days, babies love to fix their gaze on faces. Joseph’s gaze is steady and true. He delights in having his siblings, John and Mary, get close to his face so he can make direct eye contact with them, prompting them to exclaim excitedly, “Mom! He’s looking right at me – and smiling!” I’m convinced that this is how God looks at us: lovingly, joyfully, and directly. I hope to learn to look at God – and the people in my life – in the same way. 

In a world in which so much can distract me and pull at my attention, I’m comforted to remember that all of us, as infants, very quickly developed the skill of gazing right at those we love the most. Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart. Joseph’s example, and this hymn, remind me to keep my eyes “fixed on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2) as I go about my daily tasks.

Today, as we serve our students, communities, and families, may we be blessed with the eyes of faith to see the Lord at work in our lives and in our vocations. In times of joy and of trouble, may we lift our eyes and our hearts to God.

Voices for Inclusion

Tuesday, February 11, 2020 by Diane Freeby & Christie Bonfiglio, Ph.D.

Raise Your Voice for Inclusion

“Being part of PIE has been one of the most rewarding and life-changing experiences I have encountered, both personally and professionally.”

Colleen Wanner is a first-grade teacher at The Frances Xavier Warde School in Chicago and recently completed the Program for Inclusive Education (PIE)’s 18-credit hour program. As a member of the second PIE cohort, Colleen speaks for many when she touts the benefits of furthering  professional development in order to become truly inclusive. 

How Mountain Biking is Like School Change

Monday, February 10, 2020 by Kourtney Bradshaw-Clay

Blended Learning Change Management - Higher-Powered Learning at the Alliance for Catholic Education

Mountain bikers must consider many factors to maximize their workouts, but the most important factor is fun maximization.

Similarly, when instituting a change like blended learning in an entire school, plenty of factors should be considered to maximize teacher and student learning. But the most important factor is altering the learning culture at a school. I have found quite a few parallels between mountain biking and instituting school change.

We Are Called

Tuesday, February 04, 2020 by Kevin Fitzsimmons

Alliance for Catholic Education - We Are Called 

“Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And preach as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without pay, give without pay.” – Matthew 10:6-8

One of my favorite Catholic hymns is “We Are Called.” (Maybe you have heard it at an ACE Mass or two?)

A staple in the Gather Hymnal, this is one that I would belt out even when I was a self-absorbed middle school boy, concerned with what all my peers thought about me. Over time, and as my faith matured, I grew more attentive to the lyrics of the hymns, and in “We Are Called” there’s a clear theme. It’s about others and how we should act toward them.

Act with justice.

Love tenderly.

Serve one another.

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