Global Educators Cohort Program - Teacher Education

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Project ACCELerate

Principal Investigators: Carol Sue Englert, Troy Mariage, and Cynthia Okolo
Funded by the United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs

Project ACCELerate is designed to improve how students deal with informational content complexity, as well as to help them to access, develop, and organize information around particular literacy and disciplinary goals, content, genres and dilemmas (Hasselbring, 1997). Project ACCELerate offers a technology-based instructional environment that can assist students and teachers as they work with informational text in the middle grades. ACCELerate includes a multi-component package of reading and writing strategies (e.g., brainstorming, asking questions, clarifying knowledge, predicting, summarizing, and using visual imagery) which is made accessible to help students with disabilities to acquire, implement, and monitor strategy use while in the act of reading and writing expository texts. This type of strategy integration has proven a powerful intervention model for students with disabilities (Gersten et al. 2001; Morocco et al., 2002). Project ACCELerate also offers mapping tools to help students with disabilities to comprehend, summarize, synthesize multiple sources, and generate written texts. These mapping tools correspond to the common text structure schemes that underlie expository texts, including problem-solution, explanation, persuasion, sequence, compare/contrast, and enumeration (Spivey, 1999). A third domain targeted in ACCELerate is the provision of tools that support an inquiry-based approach in the comprehension and production of expository texts.

Teachers use the ACCELerate environment to guide students in their application of strategies related to a multi-pronged inquiry approach to learning expository content, including Plan it (establish a purpose, preview the content, activate background knowledge, ask questions, make predictions), Read It/Mark It (highlight or mark the text, summarize the information, clarify vocabulary), Note It (make notes of the key events, vocabulary, questions, or ideas), Respond to It (go more deeply by making intertextual links, query the text, or critique the information), Map It (represent the information using one or more graphic organizers), and Report It (write a written report that is published, shared, and commented upon). Teachers engage students in investigating a question or problem in a cycle of inquiry that culminates in the construction and publication of reports and artifacts The artifacts of students in these various phases of the inquiry process are annotated and entered into a cumulative learning log that is tied to a specific thematic topic, chapter or unit. In this manner, the technology help students enact and orchestrate strategies in a patterned set of inquiry activities that is highly visible and accessible.