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A place to get ABE news from across Minnesota.

ACES 101 Goes Live! - By Stephanie Sommers, ACES Coordinator

Are you new to ACES (Academic, Career and Employability Skills)? Would you like to better understand how ACES fits into our Minnesota ABE content standards and how to utilize the TIF (Transitions Integration Framework) in your classroom or program? Then ACES 101 is for you!

ACES 101 is a new free online course that is now available through the Minnesota Literacy Council’s online training site. The course was designed by Lia Conklin-Olson, who was the ACES Project Lead and compiler of the TIF, and it is being facilitated by Stephanie Sommers, the current ACES Coordinator. ACES 101 provides a wonderful overview of the ACES project and how it can give teachers the tools they need to help students reach their goals.

Content Standards and TIF Overview

The course begins with an overview of content standards and standards-based instruction given by ATLAS Director Patsy Vinogradov, PhD. In a short video, Patsy explains how the TIF from the ACES project is one of the three important documents that make up content standards for ABE instruction in MN. 

From there, the course delves more deeply into the TIF itself, as Lia explains the history behind the ACES project and how the TIF was developed. The course does an excellent job of explaining one of the key concepts behind using the TIF, which is that it is a way to teach content, not a prescribed curriculum that tells teachers what they have to teach. The TIF has always been considered an overlay to existing curriculum and not a curriculum unto itself.

Self-Reflection for Application

As teachers progress through the course and begin to really explore the TIF, they should appreciate how the activities are geared towards reflecting on one’s own classroom and learners. 

Participants learn about six of the TIF categories and the skills and subskills that are included in each. For each category, they are asked to focus on the activity examples for a level that they teach (beginning, intermediate or advanced) and choose and describe an activity that interests them, reflecting on how they would be able to use this activity in the classroom and what modifications they would need to make. In this way, teachers enrolled in the course actually gain lesson ideas through their participation. In addition to learning about the TIF categories, course participants also learn about the ACES process (Assess-Complement-Evaluate-Study), which can be applied to lessons or materials to ensure that they are getting at those essential skills needed by our learners.

Delving Deeper into the TIF

After completing the introductory modules on content standards and the TIF, course participants choose three of the six TIF categories to examine more in-depth. It is estimated that each of these category-specific modules will take about an hour and thirty minutes to complete. Completion of the two introductory modules and three category modules, along with a final assignment, will earn participants 6 CEUs. The final assignment for this course is a “My Student’s Transition Map,” which is a planning tool to help teachers think about ways that they can use the TIF with students in order to reach their learning goals.

One thing that participants in the course should be aware of is that there are a number of embedded YouTube videos. Since some school districts and programs block YouTube on their computers, the videos may not display properly. Minneapolis Public Schools, for example, generally blocks YouTube on its district computers, but teachers have access to an override feature. When I opened YouTube first using the override, I was then able to view the videos in the course. Changing to a different Internet browser, such as Firefox, might also help.

Sign Up Now!

Visit the MLC’s online training site and register for ACES 101. NOTE: New users will need to create a free account on the MLC site.

Questions about the course itself should be directed to Stephanie Sommers, ACES Coordinator.

Questions about any technology requirements or issues using the online training platform should be sent to Susan Wetenkamp-Brandt at the MLC.
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