In 1996, I began my career teaching 8th grade English Language Arts in a public school in Pennsylvania. I was fresh out of college and outcome-based education was the all the buzz. Outcome-based education does not specify a particular style of teaching, rather it requires that students demonstrate that they have learned the required skills and content. Reading, writing, speaking, and listening were the skills, the content and delivery were up to me.
I was a first-year teacher with a a small repertoire of tricks, so I tried teaching writing like I was taught. I assigned it: “How does the drama, Diary of Anne Frank, reflect the time period in which it was written?” Due at the end of the week. At the end of the week, I collected my students’ papers and spent the weekend grading them. There were always a few kids who just got it. Their words elegantly filled the page with meaningful content, smooth transitions, and a few metaphors or analogies for good measure. A sheer pleasure to read.
And then there were the rest. And I wasn’t sure what to do with them. I spent a few years following the writing process: brainstorm on Mondays, write on Tuesday, rewrite on Wednesday, edit on Thursday, publish on Friday, and I spent the weekend grading their papers. When my students and I were not working the process, we wrote “Quick Writes” to develop writing fluency. We wrote in pairs. We modeled other people’s writing. We tried every approach I came across in teaching journals and at conferences. Over the course of time, I noticed students were doing better with my assignments–we were virtually doing them together–but they weren’t able to transfer their new-found set of writing skills to their other classes. That is when it hit me: They need a sure-fire, one-size-fits-all, never fails approach. I read, Better Answers: Written Performance that Looks Good and Sounds Smart by Ardith Davis Cole, and ACES was born. Not quite. The idea of a writing formula was formed, the ACES strategy was another year in the making.
It was a new millennium, and a new grade level. I was moving to 7th grade. In 7th grade, there were three brilliant (we thought/hoped so) English Language Arts teachers and we were determined. One of us was a Reading Specialist, one of us had a great deal of urban teaching experience, and the other was persistent. It was that year ACES (a simple, scaffolded writing strategy) was born. The concept of ACES stems from the ACE reading strategy. Our novel twist was to include S. The importance of a summarizing statement cannot be over emphasized in academic writing.
We spent all year developing the strategy and methodology–testing lesson after lesson, singing chants, polishing worksheets, developing rubrics, and providing professional development to colleagues to encourage school-wide use of the strategy. The following year we presented at the Pennsylvania Middle School Association’s annual conference. Unbeknownst to us, we were developing a following. It wasn’t long after that I began being asked to present workshops at universities and to teams of teachers interested in improving their students’ writing performance. This website serves as a supplement to my workshops. When referencing this material cite:
Rogowsky, B. (2007). ACES writing strategy. Retrieved from http://www.aceswritingstrategy.com