The tech. + Soc. Sem. conflation

I had a conversation recently at a conference with some edtech teachers who didn’t look highly upon AVID teaching strategies. This surprised me. I credit AVID for making me a much better English teacher–especially after I attended a Critical Reading session at the AVID Summer Institute in San Diego many years ago. One of the bones the teachers had to pick with AVID was the use of Socratic Seminars.

In short, a Socratic Seminar is when students split into two circles: a small inner circle and a large outer circle. The inner circle students are the only ones who are allowed to discuss high level questions. The outer circle students take Cornell Notes concerning what the inner circle participants say. At the end of the discussion, all students write a summary.

The problem the edtech teachers have with this strategy is the outer circle students aren’t participating. Technically, the students are participating because they’re listening, taking notes, and then devising a summary at the end of the discussion–but I understand the teachers’ point: The outer circle students aren’t allowed to communicate with the rest of the class.

The solution is found in a conflation of technology and AVID. Instead of making the outer circle write Cornell Notes, the students should all have devices on which they’re backchanneling via Google+, Edmodo,  or whichever LMS of their choice. In this way they kids are communicating but not interrupting the flow of conversation that’s happening in the inner circle. Instead of traditional note taking and summary writing at the end of the Socratic Seminar, the teacher can put up the backchanneling thread on a projector, and the students can either write about or discuss what was shared during the seminar.

This is an effective combination of sound teaching with technology augmentation. I’ve found oftentimes that edtech teachers ignore good teaching strategies while AVID ignores edtech. When you begin moving across the SAMR model, the marriage of both sides becomes very appealing.

Growth mindset

I’m planning on showing this video to my AVID classes in the near future. The tagline says: “Five videos for teachers and students on the growth mindset and why it matters.” If nothing else, scroll to Derek Sivers and Will Smith’s contributions within the embedded presentation. I think you’ll find what they say particularly helpful if you’re struggling with learning something new or creating art right now.

After viewing…

The point that stands out to me the most is if you’re always doing stuff you’re good at, then you’ll never get better at anything. Feeling like you’re not a master of what you’re attempting just means you’re on your way to approaching mastery–as long as you don’t give up.

Hidden curriculum

I’m a big proponent of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Maybe you are, too. Everyone can agree society should strive to provide students with challenging standards and objectives that will benefit them academically and professionally.

Common Core is great, but we can’t forget the hidden curriculum great teachers pass on to students–concepts such as inspiration, motivation, and grit. Mary Catherine Swanson, the founder of AVID, used the term “hidden curriculum” a lot. The longer I teach, the more I come to value these invisible traits teachers need not only employ in the classroom, but live by. This is how students’ emotional intelligence grows. It’s also how teachers stay motivated to help the neediest students.

I’m glad our nation is ironing out what will be taught academically. Now we must not neglect the hidden curriculum that’s necessary so our young people can truly thrive.

The Child Driven Education

This was shown at the AVID Summer Institute in San Diego earlier this month during my Tutorology Strand. Sugata Mitra took computers and put them in places teachers are needed the most.

Unfortunately, good teachers usually don’t want to go where they’re needed the most, namely, New Delhi.

Bottom line, as said by Mitra, teachers who can be replaced by a machine, should be.