Using AVID to Support Students Transitioning from Elementary School To Middle School

Authors: Deborah Bennett & Kristen Eubanks

 

The transition from elementary to middle school can be challenging for students. AVID is used to help prepare students to make a successful transition for students from MED at Bridge Creek Elementary, a feeder elementary school for Kelly Mill Med Pro Middle. In this post, we will provide an in-depth explanation of how and why AVID is implemented at our schools to support our students in becoming college and career ready.


What is AVID and Why Does it Matter?

AVID, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, fosters a collaborative, culturally-responsive climate. It strives to empower all students to be successful by setting high expectations for teachers and students and using WICOR strategies in the instructional components of WICOR (Writing-Inquiry-Collaboration-Organization-Reading). WICOR strategies scaffold learning, promote equity, and build literacy to ensure students are prepared for college and career.


Examples of WICOR Strategies Implemented at Both Schools

The components of AVID instructional strategies are Writing, Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization, and Reading (WICOR). Together, these strategies support students when learning new concepts and tackling complex problems and texts.


Writing to Learn- DLIQ, Focused Note Taking, Quickwrites

Inquiry- Costa's Level of Thinking, Philosophical Chairs lesson, rules for engagement and tips, Socratic Seminar

Collaboration- Stand-Share-Sit, Carousel Brainstorm, Four Corners

Organization- AVID eBinders, AVID Graphic Organizer

Reading to Learn- Marking the Text, F-L-I-P Strategy, Frayer Model


AVID’s Four Domains

The AVID Site Team focuses on continuous improvement in the four domains of AVID. A school’s AVID Site Team is key to its success and consistency in AVID integration from year to year. The four domains include:

  • Culture: The Site Team promotes beliefs and behaviors that reflect and demonstrate a college-going culture.

  • Leadership: The Site Team communicates the vision and tone of college readiness and high expectations for all students by taking a leadership role in the growth of AVID on campus.

  • Instruction: The Site Team supports improved academic performance and college readiness for all students by utilizing AVID strategies, other best instructional practices, and 21st century tools.

Systems: The Site Team actively promotes and monitors open access to rigorous curriculum and improved academic performance for all students.


How We Implement AVID at MED at Bridge Creek Elementary

MED at Bridge Creek Elementary began our AVID journey four years ago as part of our STEAM-M whole-school magnet implementation. While we are in the early implementation phase of AVID, we have worked hard to ensure that we have a solid foundation in the four domains: leadership, culture, systems, and instruction. We have prioritized our goals in the four domains to ensure that we are providing our students with the necessary skills to prepare them for success in middle school and beyond.


Leadership

Our vision is “Every Child, Every Chance, Every Day”, partnering with our community to invest in every child by providing diverse opportunities to succeed through Medical, Engineering, and Arts immersion. This vision sets the tone that promotes college readiness and high expectations for all students. We chose AVID as our research-based instructional program to ensure that our students were properly prepared for success in middle school and beyond. Our students leave our elementary school and head to Kelly Mill Med Pro Middle, which is also an AVID site. We wanted to ensure that we have a common language that transfers as students move throughout our continuum.


To ensure successful implementation, we have an AVID Site Team with representatives from each grade level. The team sets yearly AVID goals for our school, as well as monitors our progress and implementation. They provide professional development aligned to our school AVID goals.


To promote college and career readiness, we recognize the colleges and universities that our teachers attend by posting school pennants over their classroom doors, as well as an interactive infographic display that highlights that teacher’s particular university. We have a strong partnership with our local university, University of South Carolina, through which we host student teachers. In addition, we partnered with UofSC to showcase our university students, our MED at Bridge Creek team, and community members to read aloud picture books for our Black History Month Digital Library. We have weekly college and career spotlights. For our job shadowing days, we welcome our former students back who may be interested in becoming an educator one day.


Culture


We believe that in order to give “Every Child Every Chance Every Day”, we designed the 5C’s of Character Program which includes the the 21st Century Skills of Collaboration, Communication, Critical thinking, and Creativity in addition to the component of Caring (to care about self, others, work, and property). This is implemented through our daily circle meetings in each classroom, our MTSS program, and our school-wide Town Hall meetings. Our 5C’s are displayed in each classroom and throughout our building and are at the core of who we are.


AVID’s WICOR is also an integral part of our culture. We believe that WICOR equates to rigor and gives our students the necessary skills to close the opportunity gap. In addition, WICOR is intentionally aligned with our 5C’s of Character program through both the Caring component and the 21st Century skills.


Systems

The AVID System is a foundational component designed to be embedded in the daily instruction of all of our elementary classrooms. AVID is threaded throughout the instructional day and across all grade levels.

We began our AVID journey in 2017 when we received our MSAP STEAM-M grant to transform our elementary school into MED at Bridge Creek. We began by focusing on AVID professional learning for faculty and staff through AVID Summer Institutes and Workshops. Our yearly goal is for each teacher to receive at least 50 hours of AVID professional development through opportunities such as WICOR Wednesdays, PD Playground, Faculty Meetings, and formal AVID training.


Our AVID professional development plan took a top grade-level down approach. Our Fifth and Fourth grade teachers received AVID Foundations training followed by Third, Second, First, and Kindergarten training soon thereafter. We took this approach to set up our upper elementary students for success in middle school by having a strong foundation in AVID’s WICOR.

Instruction

Over the last four years, AVID has become part of our school culture to ensure rigor through WICOR implementation. This is accomplished through all teachers integrating AVID WICOR strategies into daily lesson plans. Accountability measures are in place to ensure fidelity of AVID implementation through walk-through observations. Our administrators observe for the presence of WICOR and provide feedback to ensure college and career readiness.


AVID Elementary teaches students fundamental learning, study, and academic behavior skills

through WICOR . Students write to Learn through responding to texts through Text-Dependent Analysis, Philosophical Chairs, Socratic Seminars, and other AVID strategies. Inquiry occurs regularly through our STEAM-M classroom integration, Club Fridays, and Project Based Learning. Students collaborate through various in person and virtual options including learning clubs, reading groups, break-out rooms, Jamboard, Flipgrid, and more. Students are taught how to properly organize their materials and classwork through the use of folders, notebooks, binders, graphic organizers, and interactive note-taking. Reading to Learn begins by accessing students’ prior knowledge, making connections between their lives and what they are reading, and developing relevant content that will help them comprehend the text. We accomplish this through the use of KWL charts, guided reading, interactive read-alouds, literary analysis, and close reading with marking the text.


How We Implement AVID at Kelly Mill Med Pro Middle School

Kelly Mill Med Pro Middle School is one of three AVID National Demonstration Sites in South Carolina. According to the AVID.org website, AVID National Demonstration Site is the highest honor designated by AVID. These schools serve as models for those interested in learning about the AVID College Readiness System. Demonstration schools clearly demonstrate an ongoing pursuit of excellence to ensure college readiness in the four domains for all AVID Elective students and improved academic performance for all students based on increased opportunities and support for success.


Culture

AVID is intentionally embedded in everything we do at our school. Schoolwide displays communicate the importance of AVID college and career readiness. Teachers post College

Corners in their classrooms and AVID College Templates and Why Statements at their doorways, showcasing their alma maters and why they are passionate about education to their students. We celebrate College Colors Day each month with staff members and students dressing in college attire. This year, due to the pandemic and our hybrid schedule, we celebrated College Colors Day twice, once for each set of students meeting our campus. AVID is used during our advisory period as well, to help empower students as they revise their agendas and interactive binders, write reflections and

summaries, and conference with teachers about how they can improve. Students set goals and reflect on their progress toward meeting them.


Our AVID Site Team collaborates on planning school wide events for our students and teachers to build our culture. Our school’s annual college pumpkin and wreath contests promote the college environment with staff decorating these items in their college alma

mater’s colors. WICOR March Madness is observed by having teachers submit artifacts of AVID strategies utilized in class. Our AVID scholars vote on these strategies and the teacher/strategy is placed in a college bracket based on these votes. Our annual College/STEAMM Week at the end of the year provides a grand finale to our year and provides students with information associated with going to college including high school courses needed, finance and budgeting help, HBCUs. The finale to College Week is a college pep rally that motivates students to be college ready.


Leadership

Our school’s leadership team along with the AVID Site Team is very intentional about making

sure AVID is embedded in our culture and represented throughout the halls of Kelly Mill. Our school’s vision statement to be the premier middle school of excellence in academics and character development by preparing all students for college and career readiness by providing relevant 21st century learning experiences that incorporate AVID and STEAM-M concepts is aligned with both the district vision and AVID’s mission. We work diligently to develop sustainability, capacity and accountability. All of our leadership team attends the AVID Summer Institute regularly. We also include AVID on our school’s walkthrough protocol. Each time a new district or school initiative is introduced to teachers, we are intentional about aligning it to AVID. Our school recently was awarded a MSAP grant to implement STEAM-M school wide. Our AVID

Coordinator and STEAMM Curriculum Specialist collaborate to show teachers how the two initiatives work together. We have a very strong and dedicated AVID Site Team composed of administrators and teacher leaders who regularly plan activities to build the college culture, analyze walkthrough data to determine professional development, and use a rubric to assess and reflect on our progress to move our school forward. Our district leadership and school leadership allocate funding for sending faculty to the AVID Summer Institute yearly. A dedicated district AVID coordinator also provides professional development support and resources. The district curriculum office embeds AVID into professional development, as do our school leaders.


Instruction

The AVID Site Team has been very instrumental in allowing Kelly Mill to be consistent with AVID integration from year to year. Our leadership team shares and models the AVID non-negotiables for instruction throughout the year. Teachers are expected to use AVID strategies daily with students and label them on a posted agenda. The AVID Site Team provides a boot camp at the beginning of the year that is differentiated, introducing them to the basics of AVID or providing refinement of strategies. In addition to providing monthly AVID professional development facilitated by site team members, AVID strategies are modeled in other professional development including PLC Meetings, Faculty Meetings, Curriculum Matters, STEAM-M Matters and Technology Matters. Weekly leadership blog posts provide AVID strategies showcased, including a Critical Reading Process lesson from AVID

Weekly. Instruction is monitored by the leadership team in walkthroughs with a protocol that intentionally includes AVID and STEAM-M. The district instructional model with AVID strategies appropriate for each component is also shared with teachers. MasteryConnect is used to assess proficiency of standards. Data-informed small group intervention is provided during class time as needed using AVID strategies. Additional intervention is provided during a weekly intervention period for each content area. Our teachers are encouraged to try out new AVID strategies on WICOR Wednesday and post the letter of the WICOR strategy they are using that day. AVID Scholars collect the data from teachers' doors and create graphs based on WICOR Wednesday results. The WICOR Wednesday results, along with student and Site Team input and walkthrough data, help our Site Team and Leadership Team determine the next steps for professional development. We are intentional about differentiating our professional development based on teacher AVID experience by offering choice to teachers during faculty meetings.


Systems

Our school’s vision statement integrates the mission of AVID. We deliberately communicate that teachers will prepare students for college and career readiness by incorporating AVID strategies. Additionally, our school offers 5 sections of AVID Elective to 7th and 8th grade students and 4 sections of AVID Introduction Elective to 6th grade students.


Our summer camps accelerate AVID empowerment strategies by teaching rising 6th-grade students key AVID strategies and organizational elements. Our AVID Site Team is intentional in our recruitment strategies geared toward providing access to all students. Teachers and AVID students actively share the benefits with parents and students. Our site team members are active in the selection process and the creation of the rubric used in selection. We are committed to providing access to training for our teachers at Summer Institute and expect those teachers to be active members on our AVID Site Team.


10 Tips for Using AVID to Assist Students in Transitioning from Elementary School to Middle School

  • Implement student note-taking and organization practices in early elementary grades.

  • Provide an opportunity for fifth graders to learn about middle school expectations and practices such as changing classes, using lockers, organization and more.

  • Provide a Summer Boost Camp for rising 6th grade students which has an AVID component supporting students in interactive notebook (INB) and agenda best practices and curriculum acceleration as well as providing them opportunities to build relationships with new teachers and acclimate to the school.

  • Provide a Parent University for 5th and 6th parents on AVID strategies, INBs, Agendas, Google Classroom and PowerSchool.

  • Provide a 6th grade AVID class to help introduce students to your middle school’s ideals of AVID and support them with study skills such as maintaining interactive notebooks and agendas and revisiting focus notes.

  • Provide AVID strategies schoolwide in all schools to ensure a common language and make it non-negotiable.

  • Label AVID strategies used on the board to help students understand what is helping them be successful.

  • Provide an intervention and advisory period that provides opportunities for reteaching and incorporates AVID strategies, goal setting and reflection.

  • Provide professional development that is differentiated and intentionally designed with data in mind.

  • Use AVID strategies to deliver all areas of professional development and training for teachers to model implementation.

 

In Closing, AVID is a system used to help prepare all students for college and career readiness in our global society. In this post, we described how and why AVID is implemented at our feeder schools to support our students to increase the likelihood of being successful and being the best versions of themselves. A strong AVID Site Team is instrumental in the success of any AVID implementation. Resources to assist school implementation were linked throughout the blog. Please visit AVID.org to learn more about the AVID system and to find out how you can use AVID to scaffold learning, promote equity, and build literacy to prepare your students for college and career readiness.

 

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