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Content, Curiosity, and Relationships

By Gary Kroesch, AVID Staff Developer

It was the first day back at La Jolla High after a too-short summer, and I was stumbling through my new class schedule, my mind still on happy days spent on the beach. After lunch, I wandered into Ms. Gloria Moore’s world history class, expecting the same old lectures and counting the minutes before I could grab my board and get back down to the beach.
But there was something different about this class. Instead of rows of seats facing forward like every other classroom I had ever been in, this one had the seats arranged in a circle with Ms. Moore at the blackboard. We students sat facing each other across the circle—a strange and somewhat uncomfortable experience at first as we waited for everyone to file in and sit down. Yet form followed function: we were about to get a very different kind of lesson—one in critical thinking.

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Read Your Inner Compass: Another Way to Look at College Readiness

By Jonathan Petrick, AVID Staff Developer, Elective Teacher, and Coordinator, Ramstein Middle School, Germany

A little over a year ago, I enrolled in a land navigation course (orienteering and compass work minus the GPS). As I navigated a compass course through the daylight and darkness, I couldn’t help but wonder how AVID strategies, inquiry, collaboration, determination, and so on, could help me as I sat in the woods—temporarily lost—at nearly midnight. So, my AVID brain started ticking…. How would my students fare at a similar activity? At the conclusion of the summer, I returned to my school in Germany and contacted someone who could help guide my idea of putting my students through a similar course to fruition, and in the process, he helped me think about my work as an AVID teacher in a new way.

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Building a Scholarship Buzz

By Kristen Behrens, English and AVID Teacher, Mundelein High School

At Mundelein High School, we host four Parent University Nights per year. This year, one evening in particular stood out to me. I was charged with educating parents on the nuances of the FAFSA, scholarship opportunities, and how to interpret a financial aid award letter. The response was stunning. I quickly realized that AVID parents and students are gripped by fear when it comes to the idea of taking out student loans for college. Parents literally created a line down my classroom’s hallway after the meeting, and I stayed in my classroom to privately talk each family off the ledge until 8:30 p.m. that night. Their financial woes were sobering, and I quickly realized that I needed an action plan to make parents realize how hard their students have worked, and that they are worthy of attending a four-year institution right after high school—even if loans do, in fact, need to be considered.

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How We Do This All Day Long

By Craig McKinney, AVID Elective Teacher and Staff Developer

At the end of the second of five class periods, the guest speaker turned to me with a look of exhaustion and asked, “How do you do this all day long?”

By the end of sixth period, she was, as they say, “phoning it in.” A glazed expression in her eyes, she continued to click through her PowerPoint slides and deliver the same art history lesson—with the same inflections, the same pauses, and the same practiced information. My students sat there dutifully taking notes, some of them occasionally jolting back to semi-alertness after nodding off momentarily.

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