ACE My Academics as a Bridge Between Home and School

Fostering a solid home-school partnership is a key to creating a firm foundation for academic and social-emotional achievement. Parent involvement in a child’s education can be important to developing mastery and self-efficacy, and can increase the value of education itself for the whole family.  One vital way to improve the home-school partnership is to give parents tools with which they can engage their children.

Often, parents do not know how to help their children; yet, they want to so desperately. They sometimes fail to realize how their experiences as adults in their work and in their social interaction could be utilized as models for children and adolescents to view their jobs as students.  Parents might feel intimidated by school or not see themselves as their children’s vital teachers.   If parents recognize that they have learned some tips or tricks to make their work or lives easier, they can impart to their children the need to find such strategies in their work and lives as students.  Yet, parents need techniques to teach their children.

What is lacking is a common language for approaching assignments across content areas that can be utilized by teachers, students, and parents alike. ACE My Academics can provide such a language, which can afford everyone a chance to comprehend the mechanisms for completing schoolwork effectively. Common understanding and clear communication foster partnership between home and school. With ACE My Academics, the components of literacy beyond decoding are broken down into specific behaviors with job descriptions and character names. This system gives families a way of talking about learning in English/language arts, history/social studies, and science.  Parents can learn the system and model how they use or could use such techniques in their own lives. In addition to modeling with specific examples from a parent’s direct experience in the workplace or social environment, parents can select sample texts, media, or primary sources of  interest and work through the strategies to show their thinking to their children.  They then can work with students on assignments to demonstrate how the techniques apply to schoolwork. This would be followed by a gradual release to students working on their own, following the I do. We do. You do. paradigm.

With ACE My Academics, through modeling with a common language, parents can elevate the value of student work and give children and adolescents the chance to think about, analyze, interpret, and respond to information in a mindful way.  Parents can help raise self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-efficacy. They can use their knowledge and experience to further support student achievement.  With ACE My Academics, parents have a manner to discuss student work, the school day, and knowledge acquisition in general with their children and with educational professionals. This practice enhances a student’s efforts to be successful in school, while affording families the chance to take part in education and be on the road to lifelong learning.

Solving Important Educational Problems Through Effective Literacy Instruction

As posted on Education Update 7/7/14.

Here are 5 key education needs that deserve an integrated solution:

We need:

  1. to equalize the distribution of resources and opportunities for all students.
  2. to increase teacher empowerment.
  3. to develop students into 21st Century thinkers and doers who make meaningful, pro-social contributions to the world, and who act with gratitude, grit, open-mindedness, and self-control.
  4. a mechanism for implementing Common Core Standards.
  5. high-quality literacy instruction that goes beyond decoding.

For the past five years, I have been working on a platform to help address these issues found at  ACE stands for Always Capture Excellence and is based on the belief that all learners can succeed in school.  This system affords teachers and students a clear structure for communicating about assignments and discussing information, while linking academic to social-emotional learning goals.  ACE’s Module 1: Attacking Reading and Writing Across the Content Areas is designed to give learners from elementary through high school a meta-system of evidence-based strategies and tactics to understand narrative and expository text, media, and primary sources.  It allows students to devise responses that show higher-order thinking, creativity, and insight, while encouraging meta-cognitive awareness and self-regulation.  Here, reading and writing become a narrative process.  Important learning tasks, such as pre-reading’s motivation, prior knowledge, and text structure, and during reading’s vocabulary knowledge, information architecture, and connection-making, become characters that students use to prime themselves, hunt for evidence, and write well.  Students are active through the entire reading and writing process, which can increase academic learning time and achievement.  Learners can have an engaged, playful attitude as they do meaningful work in English/language arts, social studies/history, and science, producing innovative, structured written and oral responses.

ACE My Academics can afford teachers the opportunity to be learning doctors who diagnose problems and prescribe interventions, to be scientists whose classrooms are laboratories for increasing learning potential, and to be social entrepreneurs, who inspire students to be passionate about issues and want to take action in their communities.  The Common Core asks students to be thoughtful interpreters of knowledge and wise articulators of opinions supported by evidence.  To accomplish these goals, we are in need of a common language that is introduced in the elementary grades and is continued throughout high school.  As data complexity increases, students need a firm foundation for learning pattern recognition and understanding subtle informational differences.  We need a methodology that links daily practice of teaching and learning of literacy to the higher-order aspirations that we have for our students and for education-at-large.  ACE My Academics might offer such a path.

Professional Development Workshops Available

Evidence- based Practices for Reading and Writing in the Content Areas

with Matthew G. Mandelbaum, PhD

This workshop teaches a meta-framework for comprehending and communicating information in English Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies using the ACE My Academics platform. With evidence-based reading and writing strategies and tactics for expository and narrative texts and media that cover pre-, during, and post-reading stages and the range of written and oral responses, students develop a foundation for creative and critical thinking and academic self- regulation. Special and General Educators in Upper Elementary, Middle, and High School are encouraged to attend, along with therapist and other professionals working in the educational fields. Participants learn the framework, including the use of worked out examples, before utilizing their own texts to develop effective lesson plans.  Participants leave with the ability to apply the knowledge to their settings immediately.  Supports Common Core Standards.

For more information contact Dr. Matthew G. Mandelbaum.

Empowering Teachers Through ACE My Academics

ACE My Academics seeks to offer teachers a methodology for reading and writing instruction that promotes intellectual and social-emotional development for all students. When combined with the these empowering teacher orientations, there can be an even greater increase in  student success.

Educators need to see themselves as:

  • Learning Doctors, who utilize their hearts, minds, and senses to diagnose student problems and prescribe interventions for remediation (Brophy & Good, 1986).
  • Scholar-Practioners, who actively consume information and have an ongoing commitment to improve their practice.
  • Scientist-Practioners, who see their teaching environments as laboratories and take part in ongoing, thoughtful experimentation to improve student outcomes.
  • Curriculum Developers, who create/appropriate curriculum to make an impact on student development, utilizing universal design and backward design principles that support high standards.
  • Social Entrepreneurs, who combine sound learning and communication principles with critical thinking and problem solving skills to take on challenging  issues.
  • Teachers, who draw upon a strong pedagogical and personal foundation to constantly revive their commitment to transforming student lives.

With these perspectives, educators can impart strength, courage, and wisdom (india.arie, 2001) and show warmth, a business-like orientation, enthusiasm, organization, the use of quality materials and activities, the use of clarity, structure, questioning and an academic focus (Rosenshine, 1971) that increase academic and social-emotional achievement.

Using the Power of Play

School can be a place that promotes love of learning, engagement, and curiosity.

Students can have the opportunity to play as they learn with real-world, authentic tasks that let them feel the power of doing meaningful work. Let them see how they can make an impact on their own lives, on the lives of others, and in the world through their daily practice.

ACE My Academics reinforces the power of play that allows students to learn and utilize a comprehensive set of skills that they can continue to develop for the rest of their lives.  These are specific strategies and tactics for literacy that improve the growth of the whole student with 21st Century Skills that meets Common Core Standards.

Through ACE My Academics, students come to see themselves as investigators, researchers, authors, speakers, thinkers, and doers.

Students recognize the academic and social-emotional power that lies within themselves and can grow this power continuously through repeated interaction with texts, fellow students, and teachers.

Statement of Teaching and Learning: The Underpinnings of ACE My Academics

All learners should strive to Always Capture Excellence (ACE) in their work and in their personal development.  There must be an equitable distribution of resources so all learners have the opportunity to set goals, meet them, and achieve their dreams.  We must work to create a community of citizens and scholars who seek to solve life’s challenges across domains.  To do so, education must provide a sound foundation for continuos growth.  The following principles have guided the development of ACE My Academics.

Purpose and Underlying Fundamentals

I think that a purpose of a fine education is to build an expanding knowledge base across disciplines, to refine ways of communicating it clearly, and promoting a life of meaningful productivity that includes service.

I believe that educators are learning doctors who need to be trained in and practice diagnosis and intervention, which includes a background in Special Education, Educational Psychology, and in the methods of scientific research inquiry.

I understand and support the interaction between scholastic rigor and warmth from student, parent, and educator perspectives, based on personal experience.

I believe in utilizing a full array of intellectual, social-emotional, and technological resources in promoting a more complete, investigative understanding of phenomena.

I look to cultivate the maturation of the whole person, integrating academic, social, and emotional constructs so that learners grow with wisdom, consciousness, and joy.

I hope to help raise self-esteem, self-concept, and self-efficacy among all learners to improve achievement in all areas.

Key Educational Behaviors

I seek to support the range of learners, scaffolding student growth to promote achievement.

I strive to make learning relevant and engaging so that learners can make meaningful connections between the subject matter and their prior knowledge.

I look to broaden student intellectual opportunities by helping them construct linkages between seemingly divergent ideas to spur creativity and innovation.

I ask learners to become flexible thinkers who actively advance their meta-cognitive and self-regulatory skills, intellectual curiosity, and motivation to love learning.

Key Community Relationships

I aim to fashion a collaborative learning environment where learners feel energized by delving into the perplexities of topics and working together to build understanding.

I look to promote independence and interdependence system-wide to yield dynamic community participation.

I believe in active cooperation among educators, parents, and learners to maximize success.

Key Rights and Responsibilities

I believe that all learners can make gains across varying domains.

I believe in finding and growing the positive element in the learning situation, in the educator, and in the learner.  With shared and accrued patience and perseverance skills by the teacher and the learner, coupled with an ongoing effort to seek out, develop, give, and utilize best practices, goals can be achieved and advancement can occur.  This entire process must be celebrated.

I have the utmost respect for learners of any age and look to help them on their path of development, and I believe that all learners deserve a high-quality educational experience throughout their lives.


Some Strategies for Implementing ACE My Academics

Here is one possibility.  Teachers can customize based on their own unique understanding of their needs.


Teacher Dissemination to Student Model

I do.

We do.

You do.

Repeat as necessary.


The goal is to develop an internalized system that lets students work independently and interdependently, reducing classroom management issues and promoting more academic learning time.  Throughout, utilize transparent teaching, where students come to understand the why of your pedagogy in order to build meta-cognitive awareness.  Integrate the social-emotional and academic concepts delineated within this system in your daily lessons, in your teacher-student communications, and in student practice.


Phase 1: Introduction & Recurring Theme

Discuss the students rights to grow their potential as thinkers, inventors, researchers, authors, etc.  Formally teach how skill-building and repetitious practice of skills lead to developing such a potential, the seeds of which already exist in the student.  Enliven students’ inner instructors so they can take an active part in learning with a deep understanding of the rational behind the system as a whole and with each strategy in particular.  Remind them of the hope, faith, and optimism that lies within them that can help them overcome challenges and be resilient and successful.  These themes should be repeated throughout the learning process, especially through the lens of the General.


Phase 2:  Pre-Reading

Develop each of the Advance Team’s strategies into a 2 – 5 mini-lesson unit.  Model each strategy (using Think Aloud techniques) and gradually release it to the student.  Combine strategies in the latter lessons of the unit to build integration of skills. Have students work in whole group, small group, pairs, and individually.

Throughout, begin to discuss the General’s role in meta-cognition and self-regulation, utilizing the chart.


Phase 3:  Reading

Utilize the Advance Team for all reading activities, especially modeling the Advance Team Plan.  Develop a 2 – 5 mini-lesson unit for each of the ShowTime Crew’s strategies. Model each strategy and gradually release it to the student.  Note the parallels between pre-reading and reading strategies.    Sequence the strategy teaching per overall needs.  Create short assignments based on the strategies for written and oral work. Have students work in whole group, small group, pairs, and individually.

Throughout, continue to discuss the General’s role in meta-cognition and self-regulation, utilizing the chart.


Phase 4:  Combined Pre-Reading and Reading

Utilize short- to mid-length texts across content areas to combine the General, Advance Team, and ShowTime Crew’s strategies.  Develop short assignments that harness graphic organizers and are applicable to written and oral expression.  The focus is on idea production, integration, and communication. Have students work in whole group, small group, pairs, and individually.  Apply to longer texts as comfort develops, breaking down text length into meaningful units to drive learning.  Perform assessment through review of written and oral work.  This phase is ongoing.


Phase 5: Adding in Post-Production Written and Oral Work (Can work in parallel with Phase 4)

Use structured writing techniques with purposeful assignments that make meaningful connections to a variety of texts.  Showcase how high-quality writing is a natural extension of solid pre-reading and during-reading work.  Create assignments that are targeted for specific reading strategies at first and then combine strategies to increase assignment complexity. Foster connections between professional authors and student authors drawing parallels between the qualities of model texts to student writing, such as theme and text structure. Have students work in whole group, small group, pairs, and individually.  Work through writing process to improve capabilities.  This phase is ongoing.



Personal Development through the Learning Process


“What lies behind us,
and what lies before us,
are tiny matters compared to
what lies within us.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”

— Ernest Hemingway


We need to adhere to an educational system that celebrates the whole person, whether she be a child, an adolescent, or an adult, looking to promote and integrate growth in the intellectual, social, emotional, and physical realms.

Let us celebrate the student for who she is and for who she can become, seeing the excellence that lies within.  Let us promote enjoyment of learning as it unfolds, so that process is valued.

Honoring the learner and the educational process builds curiosity and engagement and improves patience and perseverance, so there is an ongoing desire for the student and the teacher to invest themselves in development. This philosophy builds positive feedback loops to increase individual and social change that is filled with hope and optimism.


Spontaneous Structure

Two competing philosophies on education present themselves.  One emphasizes spontaneity, the other emphasizes structure.  Together, they form a 2 x 2 matrix of educational possibilities, yielding 4 results.


                            High                                Low

High                       Innovation                     Disorder



Low                           Evolution                       Dullness


Tony Wagner Passion, Purpose, Play


General Colin Powell

How do we reconcile both?  We need to position our students towards being able to be innovative and evolutionary.  They need to have structures in place to to understand conventions and to have a means for exchange and tools for academic and social discourse.  They also need to be flexible to choose how and when to use these tools to make new discoveries.  The ACE My Academics platform supports both.