By Michelle McClendon
There are a number of reasons why I put off doing Summer Jam the first year and why I kind of tuned out when AVID techniques were taught during PDD. The main reason, however, was I did not feel I had time to incorporate AVID into my classroom. Besides, I felt like I already switched things up enough to keep class interesting for my students. There are a couple of problems with that logic, however. One of the biggest problems was I did not switch things up enough to keep class interesting for me, too.
By finally breaking down and learning more about AVID, and by observing my peers in their classrooms, I have learned ways to take baby steps in incorporating AVID techniques while still, somewhat, staying on schedule. I had to be reassured several times that I did not have to completely “flip” my classroom. I could make small adjustments that could completely change how my students processed content. That is why I want to do a Second Saturday presentation (preferably a panel discussion) with the following title: “I Would if I Had Time…” Here are a few of the small changes I have made:
- Instead of doing three or four more time-consuming ice breakers at the beginning of the semester, I spread the getting-to-know-you activities throughout the semester when I call roll. I have explained the Match Game before, so I won’t go into detail. But watching Kim Karr collect roll data by having students answer a “quiz” question (on paper) at the beginning of class got me to thinking about how I could incorporate that into the daily roll call. Most days we will do a student match. Some days I will ask a question over the chapter reading. Students who answer correctly will get a piece of candy. That way, everyone has a chance to earn candy AND they have another small incentive to do the readings before class.
- Formative assessments have been a godsend on days when I discuss major assignments. For example, I go over the speech evaluation forms more quickly now and then allow students to ask questions. I provided them with scratch paper last time so they could literally throw their questions at me. I have also used post-it notes on the board. This allows students to direct the discussion. I can spend more time clarifying my instructions and less time going over every small detail of the speech.
- After a discussion in a Huddle about getting students up and moving around the room, I decided to restructure my Main Points lecture to use students as my “raw data” for main points in a speech. So, when we’re talking about a Topical structure to a speech, I will have my students group by how they pay for education: scholarships, loans, parents pay, etc. For Chronological structure, I have students group by age: 18-year-olds, 19-year-olds, 20+- year olds, etc. Being active participants in the process makes it more memorable, I hope.
- Not all the tips I’ve picked up have to do with a specific AVID strategy. I have a particularly challenging classroom situation this semester. I have a blended class with five students sitting in the classroom with me and five students “Zooming” in from Madison High School. This made my traditional way of collecting information for the first day Impromptu Speech more challenging. In a recent Huddle, Mark suggested an ice breaker where we shared a pic on our phones that made us proud. I modified this to incorporate that pic into a discussion before class begins. This gives me an option for their Impromptu Speech topics.
- I have finally (finally!) put together a packet of papers for the semester that I give to students at the beginning of the semester. It puts the responsibility on them to bring the packet every day, and I save time handing out papers in class. Bonus: I don’t have to remember to get copy requests in early or frantically try to photocopy before class.
We have a lot to learn from each other. I hope we make more of an effort to get into each other’s classrooms so we can pick up techniques for making small tweaks to our own classes. Those small tweaks can pay big dividends.