Here are 6 key education needs that deserve an integrated solution:
- to equalize the distribution of resources and opportunities for all students.
- to increase teacher empowerment.
- to develop students into 21stCentury thinkers and doers who make meaningful, pro-social contributions to the world, and who act with gratitude, grit, open-mindedness, and self-control.
- a mechanism for implementing Common Core Standards.
- a means of strengthening the home–school partnership for all families to improve communication, engagement, and academic and social-emotional achievement.
- high-quality literacy instruction that focuses on comprehension across the content areas.
For the past five years, I have been working on a platform to help address these issues found at ACEMyAcademics.com. This program has yet to be formally evaluated, but is primed to do so, having been taught to select teachers and coaches of the NYCDOE, neuropsychologists at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, school and counseling psychology doctoral candidates at Fordham University and to elementary – middle school students through my tutoring/mentoring. I am seeking to expand the program’s reach and engage in an efficacy study. 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, to be scholars, who utilize evidence-based practices in their teaching, and to be social entrepreneurs, who inspire students to be passionate about issues and want to take action in their communities. If we can increase teachers’ ability to be master content-delivers and character models, we may be able to improve the rate and quality of transfer of academic and social-emotional knowledge to students. Furthermore, 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 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. With ACE My Academics, 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 use their knowledge and experience to further support student achievement.
With ACE My Academics, parents can 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. The Common Core asks students to be thoughtful interpreters of knowledge and wise articulators of opinions supported by evidence. To accomplish the goals of enhancing opportunities for students, teachers, and parents, we are in need of a common language that is introduced in elementary school and is continued throughout high school. As data complexity increases, students need a firm foundation for learning pattern recognition and understanding subtle informational differences, while they develop self-efficacy, self-concept and self-esteem. We need a methodology that links daily practice of teaching and learning of literacy across the content areas to the higher-order aspirations that we have for our students and for education-at-large. ACE My Academics offers such a path.