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ACE Spectrum


Ace Spectrum is about you — the ACE Learning Centers.
It’s a quick sharing of ideas, inspiration, opinions and best practices among our continuing education organizations.

Please join the conversation.

How Do Educators Teach About the Recent US Capital Events? Listen to the Students

Posted by on Jan 19, 2021 in ACE Learning Center, ACE School Report, Continuing Education | 1 comment

By Martha Sessums, President, ACE

The events of January 6 were shocking to many US citizens. How could a mob march to the US Capital where Congress was doing its constitutional duty to confirm the election of President-elect Joe Biden?

One of my first thoughts was how do educators talk to their students about this, especially the ACE Learning Center students at schools that serve a high percentage of immigrant students? Didn’t many of these immigrant students come to the US to escape these kinds of actions from their countries? What do they think now?

I reached out to the education experts at Oakland International High School (OIHS) and San Francisco International High School (SFIHS) and was rewarded with hearing about the amazing faith both students and educators had in the US system and how quickly best practices were developed and implemented in the virtual classrooms.

“Throughout the district, principals and teachers struggled to make meaning of the events for themselves, but rapidly had to turn to the work of helping students understand what took place,” said Carmelita Reyes, Founding Principal of OIHS. “Educators leaned on one another and shared resources and strategies that were age appropriate.  This will not be a one-day lesson.  The events and consequences of (that) week will reverberate throughout our nation for a long time.”

While appropriate best practices were used in classes, what was great to see was the attitude of the students whose faith in their chosen country, the US, was unshaken.

“SFIHS teachers reported that most students already had the understanding that . . . people tried to attack the capital to try to overturn a free and fair election,” said Tara Hobson, Principal at SFIHS. “Although January 6th was a dark day, our future as a nation looks bright because our students are brilliant and aware and have a strong sense of reality and faith in our country.”

Lauren Markham, Director of the OIHS Learning Lab, said the educators at OIHS had much of the same experience.

“While the siege of the capitol left some U.S. Americans shocked and many outraged, it’s important to note that for people who have already experienced severe repression both here and abroad, the events of last Wednesday . . . may not have come as such a surprise,” said Markham. “In light of this, we want to make sure that our staff function as sounding boards for students concerns and as sources of information, calm and understanding, letting our students take the lead on what they want to discuss and how.”

Rachel Sadler, 12th Grade Government teacher at SFIHS had a similar experience.

“The insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6th horrified my students, but it did not necessarily surprise them,” said Sadler. “Their main questions seemed to be around accountability and justice, which they know is so often and easily denied. Many wondered whether the perpetrators of these riots would be held accountable and go to jail.”

For a lot of students, it was a callout for creating community and staying strong to fight against hate. SFIHS 12th Grade student Elisa Aguilar Cinto echoed many student’s call for community.

“We need to support each other and not let hate spread in our society and not have people believe something that is not true,” said Cinto. “I noticed that (the event at the US Capital) is just creating violence instead of creating peace in our community. However, a community can move forward by supporting each other and that’s why we all are here in this world to work together; love each other; to build a community without violence or discrimination against other. Honestly, we all are the same creation of God and there shouldn’t be hate amongst the American nation.”

This is focus on community and future by the new generation of well-educated and inspired immigrant students is heartening.

“I feel grateful and encouraged that so many of my students are able to name the concerns that arise from racist policing and white privilege in our country, and to expect and demand more of our government,” said Sadler. “I feel hopeful for a future where these same students will become activists and decision-makers influencing how the United States must change. We are all going to be very lucky to live in the world they help create.”

Yes, we are. Thank you OIHS and SFIHS students and educators for your courage and community.

Collaboration Builds Community in the KALW Newsroom and Beyond

Posted by on Jan 18, 2021 in ACE Learning Center, ACE School Report, Continuing Education | 1 comment

By Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW Audience Supported Public Media and Annelise Finney, Audio Academy ‘21

I think a lot of us were hoping that 2021 would start fresh and promising. But so far, it feels a lot like 2020 to me.

That said, in the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, the economic instability of stop-and-go shutdowns, the overdue racial reckoning, and the toxic politics we’ve been experiencing, I feel we’re all learning countless lessons: about growing; priorities; community; and building a better world.

As part of that, I’m very grateful for support from the Association for Continuing Education, which has always prioritized those values.

I’d like to highlight a story that our training coordinator, Marissa Ortega-Welch, and I produced the day after the attack on the U.S. Capitol. It’s a firsthand account of the day’s events from the perspective of four elected officials from California.

U.S. representatives Jimmy Panetta, Judy Chu, Brad Sherman, and Nanette Barragan (from left to right).

Take a listen.

While our team turned this story around quickly, within 24 hours of the insurrection, it was the result of a journalism partnership. We received the interviews from two public radio stations that partner with us in NPR‘s California HubKPCC in Pasadena and KAZU in Monterey. This kind of collaboration, done in the public interest, is exactly the kind of effort that I’ve hoped for years to achieve. Working together toward a common goal makes our work better. It makes us all better. Here’s to more of that in this challenging year to come.

Here are some thoughts from Annelise Finney, one of the outstanding fellows in KALW’s Audio Academy class of 2021:

Annelise Finney, Audio Academy ’21

I’m wrapping up work on my first feature length audio piece, a profile of a librarian who became a contact tracer during the pandemic. I made a few audio pieces on my own before joining the Audio Academy, but I’ve never worked on them with another person, much less an editor. For this project I was fortunate to be edited by Lisa Morehouse.

I’ve enjoyed working with Lisa and learning about the reporter/editor relationship. So much of my pandemic pursuits have been intensely and necessarily solitary. I’m usually a very social person but to cope with the isolation of this time, I’ve gotten pretty good at burrowing deep into projects on my own. Each one becomes its own world complete with unique logic, routines, and dramas. Starting work on this project felt the same, but then at my first edit, Lisa dropped into the world beside me. 

When someone drops into a world you’ve created, you quickly learn the distance between what you find interesting and what has more general appeal. It’s amazing how easy it is to forget this distance exists when working for a long time on your own. At first I felt a bit shy and it felt strange to have someone look so directly and critically at my work — kind of like having a stranger stare so deeply into your eyes that you can’t help but blush and look away. I was at first, resistant to incorporating another person’s ideas into my work. But I began to learn how to feel out where to acquiesce to the informed opinion of the expert, and where to push back and defend my own ideas. Lisa delivers edits efficiently, with, what was for me, the perfect amount of caring and unsparing honestly. She is the definition of tough love. Lisa’s attention forced me to evaluate my own work with a more critical eye and ultimately pushed me forward on the road to becoming a better journalist. I’m looking forward to working with an editor again, learning about different editing styles and continuing to grow as a journalist through close collaboration with my editors.


In Person to Online Teaching: Learning How to Teach Via Zoom

Posted by on Jan 11, 2021 in ACE Learning Center, ACE School Report, Continuing Education | 0 comments

By Dr. Paul Krivonos, ACE Board Member, Emeritus Professor of Communication Studies at California State University Northridge

ACE Board member Dr. Krivonos is an experienced teaching professional. However, online teaching with Zoom was a learning moment for him. Here is Paul’s story.

Although I have previously taught online, it was always a planned endeavor, and never on Zoom. Back in March 2020, I had to make a very quick, though bumpy transition from in person to online teaching. I was scheduled to teach an eight-week intensive course on Organization Theory and Behavior in the California State University (CSUN) Northridge Master of Public Relations program. Even though the cohort was to meet at an off-campus site, it was still scheduled to be an in-person experience.

At the beginning of March, CSUN decided to move all on-campus classes to online via Zoom. Like everyone else in education (and almost all other fields), I had to quickly adapt from what was comfortable to a new normal as I never had an in-person session with a class.

Holding a class over Zoom was an interesting experience, both for me and for the students. Because I use quite a few experiential exercises to illustrate behavior in organizational settings, I had to rethink that aspect of the course.  I did not want to completely eliminate such class interactions, but many of the ones I use in person were not easy to adapt to the online environment. What did work well was putting students in small groups of four to five people and present them with a topic, question, scenario, or case study to discuss and report back to the class as a whole. Students also found this group interaction valuable and enjoyable based on a written informal survey at the end of the course.

Interestingly though, they found an advantage in getting to know their classmates as they would normally arrive prior to class and leave when class finished. Now, because they did not have to spend time commuting to class, they would “arrive” early. I opened the Zoom session 15-20 minutes before class started and would leave the Zoom session open until students had finished chatting with one another after class.

That desire to get to know their classmates was also evidenced in their feedback about small group interactions that occurred during breakout groups during class.  As previously mentioned, I adapted to making sure to include experiential experiences was to include guided breakout sessions. An additional advantage from the students’ perspective was that it gave them an additional opportunity to get to know one another better.

Overall, the transition from what was to have been an in-person class to an online class was as much work, though of a different nature, as face-to-face teaching. It also meant that I was able to learn from my successes and missteps so that the next time I taught an online class, it was more effective and satisfying than one where I had to mentally move from anticipating an in-person class to teaching a virtual one.