Education Week: Parker students get an assist through the AVID Program

AVID, an innovative program that gives students a new way of approaching problems, preparing for school and opening their world through inquisitive questions, is finding success at Parker Junior High in Flossmoor.

“AVID believes if you’re given the opportunity and you want to do something, you will succeed,” said teacher Arlene Dewey, who leads the program.

Jason Powell studies a problem during the AVID class. The program allows Jason and other students to work collaboratively to solve problems. (Marilyn Thomas photos/H-F Chronicle)

In the three years AVID, a college and career readiness program, has been in place, student enrollment has nearly doubled from 50 to 91 students, and it has helped move students into honors classes.

AVID, or Advancement Via Individual Determination, gives students who show a willingness to succeed the tools they need for success. Dewey is excited to have her sixth, seventh and eighth graders focus on achievements and learn the value of their hard work. Parker teachers recommend students for the AVID class.

The student files an application for the program and parents sign-off. Students in AVID are moved into honors program classes. Some students may struggle initially being in an honors class, but Dewey said the AVID program gives them the support they need through tutorials on Tuesday and Thursday.

Parker Junior High teacher Arlene Dewey with AVID students Xavier Pratt, left, and Hayden Briggs. Dewey has led the AVID program for three years.

“Ever since I started, my grades have improved so it made me more confident, and I’m trying to pass my classes with a higher grade,” said eighth grader Aaliyah Otubsin who is in her second year in the program.
“AVID’s whole premise is if you believe you can do it and you have the determination, even if you struggle, you will do it. And we support you two days a week (Tuesday-Thursday) to help you get to where you should be and understand the problems that you’re having,” Dewey said.

AVID is a two-part program. The Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule has students focus on improving their writing, working on collaboration, discovering new ideas and topics, following organizational skills that will keep them on track, and improving their reading.

These sessions focus on staying organized: each student gets a binder for important papers. Xavier Pratt, an eighth grader, said that’s been a big help. He’s using the folders for different subjects, and the large binder for storing papers and supplies “helps a lot.”

On Wednesdays, Dewey works with students helping them develop note-taking skills, an essential for any high school or college student.

She also helps them expand their critical thinking using the Socratic method that instigates a deeper understanding of the world and their views and opinions about things outside the classroom. A recent topic Dewey discussed with the class was the Pledge of Allegiance and what it means to them.

For the Tuesday-Thursday AVID sessions, the students file a Tutorial Request Form outlining the problem from a test or homework assignment. Then they present the problem to their classmates who can help them get the answer.

Dewey said research shows kids have a tough time admitting they can’t do something. AVID expects them to stand up in front of a class and admit they can’t do something. There are a lot of “What if….?” Or “Why did you do that?” questions as classmates try to help point the student toward the correct answer.

‘So I tell them that’s okay because that’s how we learn, and your peers are asking questions to help you get the answer. They’re learning something too as they ask questions,” Dewey said.

Once there’s a solution, the student addresses the class explaining how the problem was solved.

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