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Zoe’s Top Five Rules for New AVID Students and Elective Teachers  

By Jonathan Petrick, AVID Elective Teacher & Coordinator, and Zoe Harrigan, AVID Student, Ramstein Middle School, Germany  

Have no fear, the AVID Experts are here! As we provide support to students who may not have always had a voice with their path to success, it is important that we listen to those students for advice and encouragement along our path as educators. AVID Elective teachers and coordinators can tell you that having an interdisciplinary site team is a huge advantage when the path to success is looking impossible. They will also tell you that having a few experts that have ‘walked the walk’ with AVID is greatly valued. Now I’m talking about our real experts…students! What do our students think? What advice can they offer for other students and educators looking at the plethora of updated forms, curriculum, trainings, and professional conferences and sometimes feeling overwhelmed? Enter Zoe.

Zoe, a middle scholar (pun intended) in her third year of AVID, is offering her advice to first year AVID students and teachers so they can avoid the pitfalls that first-year AVID newbies experience in the AVID Elective class.  Zoe was quick to point out (and reminded me numerous times as well) that “it is important that teachers listen to our advice… we’re the experts with all of the binder checks, Cornell Note die rolls, and biweekly AVID tutorials.”

Drumroll please…
I present to you, Zoe’s Top Five Rules for New AVID Students and AVID Elective Teachers:

1. Agenda/Planner

Students – Keep up with your agenda daily by writing a summary of what you learned in class and noting your homework with due dates… be specific!  A friend or parent should be able to pick up your agenda/planner and know exactly what happened or what work was assigned for each class.  This will be important for your study buddy and when you miss a class as well!

Teachers – Post an oversized calendar on your classroom wall so we can write upcoming projects and quizzes as we enter the room each day. Update that calendar on your website weekly! If you don’t have a website, have your students help you create one. We created a really cool one last year: http://avid.rms.kdso.eportalnow.net/

2. One Binder

Students – Organize your one binder and backpack regularly; nightly for 2–3 minutes. Purchase some cool duct tape to jazz up your binder and make it more personal by adding pictures and inspiring quotes.

Teachers – Check in with other teachers in the building if they are not on the site team to see how they can accommodate the ‘one AVID Binder’ with (content-specific) interactive notebooks and other specific items that will help to mesh AVID with other classes (think “schoolwide”).

3. Tutorial Request Form

Students – Find real points of confusion to create legit tutorial request forms (TRFs). Real questions will actually help you learn how to think differently and use inquiry. Examine your grades weekly to find your lowest grade and help find your Point of Confusion (POC). You may have to go back and look at your old notes and tests for information that you still don’t understand. It is hard work but you’ll be happy when you solve your POC during AVID Tutorials; a loud cheer or AVID Clap from your group members always feels good!  

Teachers – Gather a stack of example Point of Confusion questions available (PSAT or SAT) for when we forget to do a TRF because it will happen! Just don’t give us credit for the pre-work or we will use this excuse every week.

4. Collaboration

Students – Try working with people who have different interests; you’ll learn a lot. Remember that you will not always work (in the future) with people that have the same ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ as you, and this is good practice to learn to adapt and share differences. Just be yourself!

Teachers – Have us determine our group member styles early in the year by asking which category best describes us: Do we like to take charge immediately or do we prefer to look at the big picture and help monitor time? What about the creative students; do we enjoy ‘thinking outside of the box’ or are we the student that is shy and quiet when working within a group?

5. Character Development

Students – Doing the uncomfortable things now makes it easier in the future. It’s like the quiz before the big test. Being uncomfortable with a new place or activity is a chance to learn about yourself and how you can prepare for the future. So practice for the big day by doing SLANT (Sit up, Lean forward in your chair, Ask questions when you are confused, Nod your head when you are speaking with a teacher to show that you are listening, and Talk to teachers on a regular basis) to help ‘bridge’ a partnership early in the year.

Teachers – Don’t forget to help us with all the small things; test taking, public speaking, how to talk to our teachers about doing Cornell notes the ‘AVID Way’, how to settle a dispute with a friend, or how to politely remind a teacher to update our overall grade with that quiz we just took or assignment we recently submitted.

Originally, Zoe had a full page of ideas, but we had to narrow the focus to the most important tips. She agreed to offer her advice for additional fees that could be compensated by sending your school’s AVID t-shirt as collateral for her services. If you are truly interested, she’d love it!

As the year continues to melt away and we sometimes deviate from the reasons that have us returning each year to our college-ready environments, think of Zoe and remind yourself of what your AVID experts can offer your classroom. Listen, learn, and move forward, and be that leader for AVID in your classroom and throughout the building.

Zoe Harrigan is a third year AVID Student Rockstar at Ramstein Middle School in Germany and regularly participates in gymnastics and soccer. She regularly advises her AVID Elective Teacher, Jonathan Petrick, to ‘Shrek’ (our classroom safe word for politely saying ‘let’s get back on topic’) when he becomes carried away with a teacher’s perspective of processes and protocols. Together they learn a lot from one another and can be contacted by checking out the RMS AVID Website.

For more on AVID, visit http://avid.org/what-is-avid.ashx.

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Reader Comments (8)

Zoe and Mr. Petrick,
Your article would be a great resource for teachers taking the AVID Implementation or Advancing the AVID Elective strands at the AVID Summer Institute because the advice complements the On Demand Module, "Top Priorities in AVID". I especially appreciate your comment related to legit points of confusion on TRF's. The process of thinking critically, utilizing resources, pinpointing where you get stuck, and being able to articulate that in an academic and concise manner are all skills worthy of our time and effort.
Hugs from California,
Melissa Jones

October 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa Jones

Zoe!! Avid Rockstar indeed! Y'all are staying on point in the Deutschland! I'm so glad and proud that you've stuck with AVID for your whole middle school career, with no small part due to the most excellent Site Team, Tutors, and Coordinator y'all have out there. Anyways, you're truly an expert and all of your AVID tips are invaluable to students and teachers alike. I miss it over there! Wish Dom and I could hop on a Space-A to take us out there! Anyways, keep fighting the good fight and know that you, your other Avid 6 peers of old, and Mr. Petrick are dearly missed.

Howdy and Yee-haw from Texas!
Mr. Wharton

P.S.: Nice jerseys!

October 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMr. Wharton

Zoe is a great student (I am her science teacher)!
To Zoe: Great advice. Although you are advising AVID students and teachers, I suspect these could be helpful ideas for a science classroom. Would an assignment calendar for Science help students organize their class and homework? Can you help me come up with one?.
I'll think about your other advice and maybe you could help me process some of the ideas.
So proud of you Zoe - I know you've put in a lot of hard work to gain this level of understanding and competency.

October 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKim Coard

Zoe, What an excellent article you wrote! The Glenn Family is very proud of the wonderful, thoughtful, inspiring young lady you have become over the years. I will be printing your article out and passing it along to the students here in Florida. Kudos to Mr.Petrick for developing a curriculum that makes learning success in school attainable and FUN!

We cannot wait to see all the fantastic things you will accomplish in the future! Hard to believe not long ago you were in preschool and before you know it, you will be off to college.

Lori, Rich, Eve and The Boys

October 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLori R Glenn

The article you wrote was amazing! My name is Jacob and I'm also a third year AVID student who goes to Canyon Lake Middle School in California. Being in AVID, I agree with all the advice you're giving. You touched on all the main points that all AVID students should do to become an effective student in general. You have provided students and teachers, no matter how long they have been in the program, with the necessary information to help students become more organized and an effective in school.


October 24, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjacob salazar

Zoe and Mr. Petrick,
What a great resource for us to use to help our AVID students become better students. Thank you. I plan to have my students use this article/blog as one of their Talk to the Text lessons that we do. It will be a great resource to help better their AVID skills and improve their academic skills. I love the Planner piece. I have a huge Calendar in my class that the students utilize to help fill in their planners, on top of a Face book wall for all our AVID families to keep updated on our school and the AVID program. It is just a matter of the students getting into the routine to use this Planner everyday. :O) Hearing from a student/ peer is wonderful and helpful. Keep up the great work Zoe and Mr. Petrick!

Kim French
AVID Coordinator and Teacher
Booth - Fickett Magnet School K - 8
Tucson Arizona

October 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKm French

What a wonderful example of collaboration between an AVID Elective Teacher and an AVID student; your teamwork in pursuit of the same goal, the path to success, shines through. Zoe, I am especially in awe of how you articulate your vision of past, present and future uses for the AVID way of doing (school and life) business. The "Top Five Rules. . . " you suggest are all spot on and ring true no matter how long you've been an AVID student. In fact, there are so many things that you discussed that ring true in my professional life as well; plan, organize, question, collaborate and know thyself-- timeless advice for which I thank you. I offer a heartfelt thanks to Mr. Petrick and all the dedicated AVID Elective Teachers across the world for the amazing job they do everyday to mentor students like Zoe!

Brandi Johansen
Former AVID Regional Director

October 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrandi Johansen

Mr. Petrick and Zoe...thank you both for making AVID so AWESOME here at Ramstein Middle School. I really enjoyed reading your blog. It's great to be able to see how AVID impacts students. Zoe, thanks for sharing some great ideas to the AVID world and for your former 6th grade math teacher. It does not seem that long ago when you were in my class Zoe. I still remember when you asked me for a recommendation to join AVID. I am so glad I did.

Ramstein Middle School
6tth and 7th Grade Mathematics
AVID Site Team Member

October 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLarry Monroe

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