Thursday, September 9, 2010

WICR Wednesday 9/8/2010

Our second installment of the WICR Wednesday lesson.
This one was sent by our great AVID and English teacher on our faculty.  :)

WICR Wednesday Challenge #2:

Last week we introduced WICR and explained that the "AVID philosophy involves integrating the four WICR elements into every classroom on a routine basis since they encompass four crucial skill areas for college-bound students."

Each week we want to share a strategy that we use in both our AVID elective classrooms and our academic classrooms. These strategies are not "AVID" strategies. They are simply best teaching practices that students say help facilitate their learning.

Philosophical Chairs
Philosophical Chairs is a strategy that both my AVID kids and my English III kids love. It encompasses all four of the WICR elements. Attached is a detailed power point explaining the process.

Basically, a teacher would use this strategy to foster a group discussion in an orderly fashion.

The W or writing takes place before and after the discussion. I have kids write their opinion or answer to the question down before we start and then reflect on how their opinion has changed based on what they heard.

The I or inquiry and the C or collaboration happens during the actual discussion. Students can ask questions, defend their ideas, and discuss in a structured manner.

The R or reading should happen first. They need to have read an article, part of a novel, or passage before they come to class so that they have an opinion to share. I have attached an article that our district director shared with us that I have used in my AVID elective class concerning sagging pants. The kids really seemed to enjoy it. Join the challenge and try a Philosophical Chairs lesson with your students!!

If you have any questions, please see any site team member or any teacher on campus that has attended a Write Path training session. Philosophical chairs is covered in almost all of the disciplines. We do have Path training coming up in September. If you are interested, please let a site team member know.

AVID HISTORY PATH:  Philosophical Chairs PPT

Saggin Pants Article

Using Philosophical Chairs

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

WICR Wednesday 9/1/2010

Today was our first WICR Wednesday of the year.  It is an idea that has been done before by many other AVID schools.  But, our district director really pushed us to work on this as a district this year.  Here is how it works:  We have a scheduled Wednesday for each AVID elective teacher and coordinator in the district.  On that week that the person is assigned, they will send their WICR Wednesday lesson to our district director and she emails it out to all the AVID coordinators across our district.  Then they sent it out to their faculty.

Good idea and great way to spread the AVID way.

My WICR Wednesday choice was straight stolen from one of the examples that our director sent out.  But, I thought it captured what WICR is perfectly and sets the stage for the rest of the WICR Wednesday emails through out the year.

Hello Eagleland,

This week, your AVID site team invites you to take the One-Week WICR Challenge.
WICR is an acronym used by AVID to highlight four key aspects of curriculum in a successful classroom:

The AVID philosophy involves integrating these four elements into every classroom on a routine basis since they encompass four crucial skill areas for college-bound students.
How to Take the One-Week WICR Challenge:
Print out the attached WICR Week Tally Sheet and fill it out each day, noting the ways you incorporate writing, inquiry, collaboration, and reading into your curriculum.  At the end of the week, you'll be able to assess how successfully you involved your students in WICR.  If you notice any deficits, make an effort next week to find ways to improve the balance of WICR in your routine.
(I've also attached a chart which lists some examples that fit into each part of WICR in case you need a few ideas!)
Keep reading the Wednesday WICR e-mails for suggestions for how to strengthen each of these areas.  If you need extra help, seek out a site team member.  We'll be happy to assist you.
Have a great week!
Our AVID Elective Teachers are:
More about AVID on the Humble ISD District site:
To see what Mr. Duez is doing in his AVID class each week -
WICR Week Tally Sheet


Friday, August 13, 2010

New Social Studies Training @ Summer Creek

I very much enjoyed working with the new social studies teachers today. It is an honor to have been asked to work with all of you and I hope I was able to help in some small way. We are lucky to have you in Humble ISD.  But, you guys are also joining the best group in our district. Our social studies teachers are incredible!
If there is anything I can do to be of help, please let me know.
Here are the notes from today's session:
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Monday, August 9, 2010

What is World History Pre-AP? The Video

I did a little "What is World History Pre-AP?" video last year.  I am using most of it again this year.  Changed the music and the beginning, but I kept a lot of what I had last year.  I am not 100% sure I like it because the quality is not as good as the other two videos.

But, I think it accomplishes my objectives:
1) Explain what we will be studying - or at least give a brief overview.
2) Explain how class will function.
3) Give the kids a brief taste of a few of the projects we'll work on this year.

Here's the video.  What do you think?

What Is WH PreAP from Mr. Duez on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Time Magazine: The Case Against Summer Vacation

Really interesting read. Is summer an "outdated legacy of the farm economy?" Or as the article seems to suggest, can it be a time for grass roots creativity to provide enrichment for kids?

Time Magazine: The Case Against Summer Vacation

What do you think?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Rules Video for 1st Day of School 2010

As I mentioned in my last post, I am working on my introductory videos to my class.  This is the rules video.  It's short but sweet.  I want my students to remember the rules.  I want them to be simple, but flexible.  I want them to be positive and supportive.  I also stole them from my wonderful wife, who is much smarter than I am.  :)

The three rules are:
1. Be Prompt.
2. Be Prepared.
3. Be Polite.

They pretty much cover everything needed in my classroom.  Get to class on time.  Be ready to learn.  And be good to everyone in the class.

Again Aidan is my star for the show.  I like that he adds a little comic relief to RULES.  Going over rules for the classroom on the first day can be dry and for kids it can seem unnecessary.  At least Aidan has added some fun to it and maybe they just might connect to them a little better?

Here's the video.  What do you think?

Rules WH 1stDay from Mr. Duez on Vimeo.

My rules video for the first day of class.
Be prompt, prepared and polite. :)

Expectations Video for 1st Day

Each school year I do a video to show on the first day.  It's a video introduction to the class, explains expectations and rules.  The first video I produced this year is the "Expectations Video."  I wanted to post it here and get some reaction before I put it in the can.

I'm also working on the rules video and the video that explains my World History class and how it will function.  Those will be done this week.  I am excited to have these finished well in advance of the first day this year.  Too often I'm editing a video to prepare for the NEXT day and that is just crazy.  It takes far too much work.

Of course, having Aidan in my videos is always a lot of the fun.  He's crazy.  But, it is far more effective to have Aidan explain classroom rules and expectations to the kids than it is for me to stand up there and say it.  What happens by 7th period on the first day of school?  The kids have heard the same lectures about rules and procedures all day long from each teacher.  It ends up sounding like Charlie Brown's teacher.  Plus, this helps to save my voice and it delivers the expectations and rules in a very consistent format.  And on top of all of that, I can post it on my website for the rest of the year.  It is a wonderful way to explain the class to parents.

What do you think?

2010 Expectations WH 1stDay from Mr. Duez on Vimeo.
This is a short video clip that explains classroom expectations in World History for 2010-2011.

Thoughts on the upcoming year...

This week I went into school a couple of different days and worked on getting my room setup. Since our high school is used EVERY summer for summer school (although we have FIVE different high schools within our district that could host) we have to pack everything up. This is tough. Everything must come down off the walls and we have little storage space. The only place we can store anything is in a small wardrobe. So getting setup for a new school year can be a lot of work.
what a mess!  End of the first day.
What I have decided is that getting the physical work of my classroom setup was most important this year, in particular. I haven't been feeling well over the past 6 months. So slowly chipping away at my room and doing so in a low stress way was important to me.

I am glad to say that most of the 'heavy lifting' is all done. Posters are up, desks are moved into position, bookshelves filled with books, my desk has all it's supplies inside. There are still some major things to do, like organizing my filing cabinet and getting my AVID stuff setup. But, I am a lot further down the road than in year's past.
I am really lucky to have two great windows in my room.  This year I have moved my desk to the back a little further.  My goal is go give the kids more prime real estate in the classroom.  
It is important this year because part of the problem I'm having health wise is managing stress and dealing with extreme fatigue. Over the past month I have made a lot of progress, but the school year's first day (8-16 for teachers, 8-23 for kids) is ominous. It was my hope at the beginning of the summer that I would be coming back to school fully healed. Now I realize that it is going to be a long term process. I will probably not be 100% myself for nine to twelve months. It is going to have to be a more different school year than I have ever taught before.

My schedule is really interesting. I have the first two periods for planning/conference. Then I teach the remainder of the day. This worries me greatly because the stress of teaching five straight periods without a break is going to wear me down. But, I have to keep the faith in the diet, vitamins and supplements I am taking. I also have to be sure to get to bed very early and get as much rest as possible.
Because of the influence of reading TLAC I have realized that grouping my desks by twos works for me best.  This gives me the opportunity to 'shoulder' every student as they are working.  I can walk around the room and get a much better feel for how they are working.  In the past I have had desks grouped in threes and sometimes positioned against a wall or side board.  This is going to be very liberating.  And I believe much more comfortable for my students.
I can do it. But it is going to mean really taking the next step in my development as a teacher. This year I will have to develop more student centered learning situations. Situations where I am not the "sage on the stage." Learning situations where the students are doing the heavy lifting and I am supervising. There is no doubt I am ready to accomplish this next step. What is going to make it work is a very strong beginning to the school year. It will be essential to create a climate in the classroom where students are on board and trust what we are trying to do.
Very excited to make my room much more functional and much more comfortable for learning.
About two weeks ago I was petrified at the prospects of starting this year. I am beginning to see a path forward though and I do believe strongly that I can get this done. Hopefully in the process I can become an even better classroom manager and teacher than before.

One of the cool things I am working on for our school is this sign:

We are going to post them in our faculty mail room (we have over 200 mail slots!) and in our 4 teacher work rooms in each of our learning communities.  The idea is that teachers can tap the sign - or just simply be reminded of the spirit we had this summer during our professional development.  I very much enjoyed doing the PD on Teach Like a Champion and I hope it had an impact on some of my colleagues.  Using some of the techniques in the book, I hope to become better and more efficient in the classroom this year.

A few more pics of my classroom:

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thursday 7-29-10 ACP Class. AVID and Teach Like a Champion

Tonight we discussed AVID and some of the techniques from the book Teach Like a Champion. Here are my presentation notes. If anyone has any questions, or needs any help, please let me know.

What is AVID? Powerpoint

What is AVID 2009? from Mr. Duez on Vimeo.

This is the 10 minute, Parent Night version.

Socratic Seminar

Engagement Strategies from Teach Like a Champion

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

ACP Class from Tuesday, July 27th 2010

Had a wonderful time last night working with the ACP class.  Here are the power points and some of the videos we watched in the class.
Remember to read the Tips for the New Teacher for Thursday and we'll discuss that in a Socratic Seminar at the beginning of class.  Then we'll talk about Engagement Strategies for students from the book Teach Like A Champion.
Please email me: about any kind of questions you might have.  Feel free to give me a call if you'd like to come in and observe.

Classroom Teaching Tips

Socratic Seminar

Classroom Strategy from Youtube, 1st grade:

Classroom Strategy from Youtube, 6th grade:

Teach Like a Champion by Lemov.  Great book.  Highly recommend it.

By D. Lemov - John Wiley & Sons (2010) - Paperback - 352 pages - ISBN 0470550473
Teach Like a Champion offers effective teaching techniques to help teachers, especially those in their first few years, become champions in the classroom. These powerful techniques are concrete, specific, and are easy to put into action the very next day. Training activities at the end of each chapter help the reader further their understanding through reflection and application of the ideas to their own practice.Among the techniques: Technique #1: No Opt Out. How to move students from the blank stare or stubborn shrug to giving the right answer every time. Technique #35: Do It Again. When students fail to successfully complete a basic task?fromentering the classroom quietly to passing papers around?doing it again, doing it right, and doing it perfectly, results in the best consequences. Technique #38: No Warnings. If you're angry with your students, it usually means you should be angry with yourself. This technique shows how to effectively address misbehaviors in your classroom. The book includes a DVD of 25 video clips of teachers demonstrating the techniques in the classroom.

Here is a sample from the DVD:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

"On Facebook, Telling Teachers How Much They Meant" - NYTimes Article

I really love this article.  "On Facebook, Telling Teachers How Much They Meant" - NYTimes Article  "... people who are 20, 30 or 40 years beyond graduation are using Facebook to re-establish relationships with teachers and express gratitude and overdue respect."

Saturday, July 17, 2010

"Focus" as the New Literacy

Peter Pappas posted a thought provoking video and his take on "Forget About Remembering, It's Focus that's the New Literacy."  I wanted to embed the video here that Peter shared and also discuss what he wrote and my thoughts.

As a history teacher, I do believe that factual information is important.  It's the backbone of what we do.  Each unit of learning, I ask my students to know certain people, events, places and vocabulary.  Why?  Can't they just "look it up?"  Sure they can.  But, committing certain facts to memory helps to give students the tools and ability to take that learning to the next level.  For instance, discussion or debate about dropping the A-bomb on Japan would be incomplete without a history of the events of the war in the Pacific during WWII.

I love the idea that teaching our students to be fluent about sources and information relevancy and believe it is critical.  Pairing a 'focused literacy' with a solid background on the facts of our history, that is a powerful combination.  Once they leave our classrooms they should be even more prepared to do the work of self education.  That is what each student is going to need to be able to do in the future.  The kinds of jobs they are preparing for are uncertain to us today.  The world is just changing at such a fast pace. (Who would have thought that there would be an internet in 1988, when I graduated from high school?  Imagine what life and employment will be like in just 20 years!)  So when they get out there and are working in a certain field, to advance they may need to seek out to find where to learn new skills.  Having that self reliance and confidence that a student can turn to the internet, book, hit the library, or seek out information from the right sources is what can make the difference.

I agree with Peter that filtering and focusing is essential.  With so much information at their fingertips (or in their pocket on their smart phone), the students who are successful will use the correct sources to help them.  But, I also agree with an idea from a previous thought in one of my posts this week from Alan November.  Today we have so much information that it is awfully easy for people to seek out the most 'comfortable' answer to them, regardless of accuracy.  Since there is a partisan viewpoint for everything under the sun, how can students filter it all?  There is FoxNews for conservatives and an MSNBC and Huffington Post for more liberal leaning people, just to name a few of the obvious examples.

We must also teach students that there are many sides to most stories.  My deep belief and faith is in the power of ideas.  And I believe that the best ideas should win.  Teaching students the art and skill of literacy filtering is critical.  It should be done at all levels of education.  That "focus" that Peter writes about in his blog entry is essential.

So how can we cut through the the ideas here and create a concrete and actionable approach for teachers?  Teaching solid researching skills isn't impossible.  We teach in the AVID College Readiness Curriculum the ASFI process:
Under each of these elements are skills that students can learn to help them in the process of "Focus" when it comes to research and learning.

I have only just scratched the surface with my work on these fundamentals.  Each year I have added a little more and nudged my students closer to being better at them.  I think all teachers should not be over burdened by the huge task of preparing our learners for their future, but rather keep getting better each year.  We can get there.  Sharing and building a strong network and community of teaching experts is the way to get there.  I have learned much from my professional learning community out here on the internet and I am inspired every day by the people that make it up.  People like Peter Pappas who has made me think today.  Thanks!

An Excellent Review of Teach Like a Champion

Here is an excellent review of Teach Like a Champion.  I love how she does a super job of putting it into her own context.  You can tell it was read, digested, analyze and resulted in a thoughtful analysis.

Review of Teach Like a Champion @ MissTeacha's Confessions from the Couch

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Myths and Opportunities of Technology in the Classroom

I came across this video through Angela Maiers Educational Services Blog and Angela saw it on Sharon's Share

Myths and Opportunities: Technology in the Classroom by Alan November from Brian Mull on Vimeo.
In this video presented by Mobile Learning Institute, Alan tours his hometown of Marblehead, MA and comments on the historical global vision of his community. Alan challenges us to think about the emerging role of “student as contributor” and to globalize our curriculum by linking students with authentic audiences from around the world. (For more, read Alan’s article, Students as Contributors: The Digital Learning Farm, found at

What do you think about this video?  First, I believe it is artfully produced and directed.  I like the style and the metaphor.  But, I also love his premise.  Isn't it our job as educators to help students learn how to produce and be productive?  Isn't a great way to start this creative and collaborative fire to have students working in the digital realm to create content?

I have been doing this each year with our Video Project.  It is a big part of our year and probably one of the top three things kids enjoy about my class.  They feel very much like they are creating content and teaching the class.  On top of that, with the power of being able to use the internet to share their work.  The students end up teaching the world, or with anyone that shares in the content.

Amazing how this has evolved from when I was first working in technology in education - setting up computer labs to speed kids through software so that they could pass the state test.  (Although I'm sure it didn't help them at all!)  I love the idea of students learning how to create content, yet still learning the core objectives and learning skills that are in our curriculum.  But, it takes a little creativity and patience to get it done.  Especially in today's educational landscape.  The excuses for not being able to do something are usually greater than the force of will needed to get them accomplished.

Some have said to me, "How can you waste time on a project where kids are creating videos and presenting them to the class?  How will you get through all the information that the State of Texas wishes the kids to know for the test?"  Well, they are working in that realm of learning the information and curriculum.  It's not like I'm having them do a video project on Alien Sightings!  They are learning about social studies and World History topics.  To be able to learn that information as they analyze a writing prompt, design a thesis to answer a question, and use the skills to present that information to the class and the world is a powerful thing.

It is simply my belief that if the students can do some independent learning to create content, they learn how to learn.  There is no way to teach them everything they need to know today.  The power is giving them a chance at learning how to harness all this information that is at our finger tips to learn from it and teach it to others.  The odds are that most of my students will be preparing for jobs that I can't even imagine right now.  Their futures are unknown.  The most powerful thing I can provide to them now is the opportunity to build their confidence in becoming independent learners.  It will be on their own that they seek out ways to improve themselves in the future.

How can you challenge your students in this way?

Check out my Video Project Blog from a couple of years ago in my World History class here:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Great AVID Story

Teachers give student a little extra aid for college
07:07 AM CDT on Thursday, July 8, 2010
By JEFFREY WEISS / The Dallas Morning News
Link: Dallas Morning News Story
Dewan Woods' new Boston College hoodie is a welcome reminder of North Texas. The sweatshirt was a gift for the incoming freshman, one of many gifts to help set him up in college.
Woods just graduated from Richardson's Berkner High School, an honored product of a program designed to give a leg up to at-risk students who show a particular spark of promise. Woods delivered on that promise in high school, earning scholarships from his chosen college and from the Dell and Gates foundations.
Those grants will pay for his education and room and board through graduate school. But a kid needs more than his studies, a dorm room and a laptop to settle into college life far from home. Things like bedding, a desk lamp, cold weather gear for the Boston winters, and plane tickets to get him there and back.
I encourage you to read the rest of the story.  Really nice.  Also I wanted to link to the Berkner Cardboard Confessional video.  Very inspiring.

LINK to the Video

Monday, July 5, 2010

Prep for Staff Development - Teach Like a Champion

Lots to do this month, including rest and relax.  :)

My number one goal is to get my presentation ready for our summer staff development for school.  I'll be working with two other awesome teachers to present a chapter from Teach Like a Champion.  What we have decided to do is use chapter 4:

Chapter Four. Engaging Students in Your Lessons.
Technique 22. Cold Call.
Technique 23. Call and Response.
Technique 24. Pepper.
Technique 25. Wait Time.
Technique 26. Everybody Writes.
Technique 27. Vegas.
Reflection and Practice.
Do any of you use these techniques already?  What has worked for you and what have you struggled to implement.  I know my #1 thing I learned from TLAC was Cold Call and Pepper.  I like it because Pepper is 'game like' and I know my kids will enjoy the competitive nature of it.  Also I do a poor job of covering vocabulary.  Honestly, with my pre-AP kids I feel like they should be more independent with vocabulary, people and events.  They should be learning them outside of our lessons at school by reading their book, taking notes, creating flash cards, etc.  BUT, I still need to check on their learning.  Doing it in this informal way will be a wonderful tool for me to use.  Quick, simple and effective.

I also dabble in Vegas a bit (as you can see from the costume shot of me in the banner above).  But, I know Vegas needs to be sharp and quick to be effective.  I would love to do more hats and costuming.  It is just fun and the kids really perk up.  Problem is that it costs $ to do so and it is an investment.  But, one I am willing to add to and build on each year.

Our professional development is during the last week of July and first week of August.  I always enjoy these sessions because it is great to catch up with everyone after they have been away for the summer.  And most people are very open and willing to learn.  We aren't burdened by the work of the school year yet.

I would like what we have to show the faculty also be inspirational.  Teaching Like a Champion is indeed a great message.  I am not a big Notre Dame fan, but I love how their players tap the "Play Like a Champion Today" sign as they exit the locker room to the playing fields.  Hopefully we can instill that same kind of spirit in our faculty.

We are also going to be utilizing the Mobi Interwrite Tablet during our training.  One of our technology teachers is leading that up and I think it will be great for the faculty to see the Mobi in action and hopefully it can enhance our lesson.  

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Modified DBQ Examples from 2010 Dallas I SI History I Strand

The image below is what we used for our example of a Modified DBQ.  The others are what we created in class.  Great examples of how you can get this done in a classroom and help your students work with sources and write a thesis.

click on each image above to make them larger.  

We had a good time on Thursday working with primary/secondary sources and also with "Modified DBQs."  There were some great examples of how you could work on this with your students.  Thanks!

Text Responses and Graphic Organizer Examples from 2010 AVID SI Dallas I History Strand

Here are some examples of the work we did in the Dallas I AVID History I strand. These are examples of graphic organizers and text responses.

Lists of Teacher Resources from June 2010 AVID Dallas I Summer Institute

These are the lists of great teacher resources that we compiled through our AVID History I strand.

You can flip through, pause and reverse with the lower left buttons.

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

The story of Jonathan Grant Brown - AVID Inspiration

The past week at the AVID Summer Institute, the highlight (as always) was the luncheon.  There are 18,500 people who will attend AVID Summer Institutes this summer, about 4,000 at the Dallas I session.  The four speakers this year were also a part of our 30th Anniversary of AVID and they did a video retrospective through the decades.  It was incredible.

One of my AVID photos from my website ended up in the video montage and that made me pretty excited.  I was also super lucky to have a front row seat for the speakers.  The luncheon has about 2,000 jammed in the ball room.  And it is a sea of humanity that the students have to address.  Quite intimidating.  Well, I walk in (a little late because our session was in a different hotel) and they ushered me into this front row seat at the first table.  Suddenly I'm sitting with two of the speakers and their families!  Pretty amazing experience.

One of the speakers was Jonathan Grant Brown.  His story is amazing.  I would not say it's "typical" of the AVID student experience though.  Most of our kids have great parents who love them, some pretty good support systems, but they just need AVID to help them advance into AP and Dual Credit classes and prepare for college.  But, Jonathan's story shows the power of AVID and what it can do for someone, even in the most dire situation.

This is a superb story. Jonathan Brown and his success through AVID. He is inspirational and shows that if he can do it, anyone can.

Jonathan's Original 2006 AVID Summer Institute Speech:

I originally posted some of this on my AVID class blog here:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

JFK Primary and Secondary Source Video

I tried the link on the UCSD website for the source, but I could not find the video.  A quick Youtube search gave it to me though.  Here it is:

If you would like to download this video, here is a post I did on my World History Blog about how to download Youtube clips:

Saturday, June 19, 2010

What is AVID?

I was thinking tonight that it would be great to have this video on this blog to explain just what AVID is.  This is something I put together last spring.  It steps through the program and explains all the parts.  We have a great AVID program but it is still only in it's fourth year and is still growing.

The T-shirt design was not a favorite of mine (in fact, I had no design in choosing it), but our seniors loved it.  I think it is modeled after the "LOVE - HATE" from the movie Do the Right Thing.

What is AVID 2009? from Mr. Duez on Vimeo.
This is the 10 minute, Parent Night version.

AVID Summer Institute 2010 in Dallas

Tomorrow I'll be jumping on a flight bound for Dallas for the AVID Summer Institute 2010.  I'm excited about it.  But, I hate leaving Norma and Aidan for this long.  They are going to have a ball, they have lots planned.  And I have Skype to talk to them with at night.  So that'll be nice.  But, I'll still miss my boy.  It is bitter sweet traveling on Father's Day.

This is a big deal for me though.  I have been hoping to be an AVID National Staff Developer for the past 3 years.  From the first day that I was in San Diego, I just knew that it would be something I would love to do.  I must say I am a bit nervous tonight.  Although I have done this training session many multiple times within my district, I'm still a little hyped up because it is the real deal now.

I am teaching with a partner who is from Chicago and he's done the training a number of times.  So I have his experience to lean on and he's fantastic.  So I am looking forward to learning from him.  I'll be doing History/Social Science I.  It is four mornings of training sessions (Tue-Fri).  In the afternoons we'll be with our district site teams and with our school groups.  So it'll be a busy, busy week.

One of the other things I am really looking forward to is the 30th anniversary of AVID.  They have lots of great things planned for Summer Institute this year to take advantage of the 30th year.  They will have student speakers who are alumnus of the program.  That should be super inspirational.

I am nervous tonight, but I know once I'm in the session and we get rolling I'll be fine.  I love helping other teachers.  We should have 30 to 50 people in our session, so having 2 staff developers is really necessary.  I realize my role will be more of a #2 man and helper in most cases.  I'm fine with that because I will work the room as much as I can and try to be helpful.  There is so much to do during these sessions.  And keeping everyone happy and learning is really important.

The hotel we are staying in is at the Hyatt Regency right downtown.  That should be awesome.  I've been there before for other SI meetings but have never stayed there.  Looking forward to being downtown all week and soaking that in (after I'm super prepared for my training sessions first).

There is a lot to do in downtown Dallas.  The West End is pretty cool.  It is a little bit of a walk across downtown, so that'll stink.  But, they do have a public transportation train that you can hop on.  I'll have a good time.  But, my #1 priority is doing the best job I can as an AVID staff developer.  I'll let the rest take care of itself.  Should be a great week.

Friday, June 18, 2010

AVID in the News - Seattle Times Article w/Video

Although this article is not exactly like our program, it is similar.  We don't normally have students in AVID who have failed classes, or TAKS for that matter.  But, many of the concepts are the same.  

I also don't think AVID students are "average" in any way.  These are kids that are willing to take on more work to be able to succeed and move up into honors, Pre-AP, AP and Dual Credit classes.  Average kids would not make it.  But, our AVID kids do.  

I also take exception to "supercharged study hall" because AVID tutoring is certainly much more than that.  It is a very specific method with highly trained tutors.  It resembles no study hall I have ever seen.

Good article though and it's wonderful to see some positive things in the news about education.  Part of the article here, with links to the full article and the video is embedded:

Average students shine with help from AVID program
AVID — Advancement Via Individual Determination — is part supercharged study hall, part motivational seminar and part time-management training. It motivates kids in the academic middle to aim for college.
Seattle Times education reporter

It's hard to imagine that Bruna Afonso was once apathetic about her studies, unsure if she'd finish high school, much less go on to college.
She now earns good grades, takes tough courses and almost always speaks up in class, as she did recently during a spirited debate over the United States' role in Bosnia.
A few years ago, she disliked school and didn't try to do well.
Now? "I'm busting my butt," she said.
She credits her transformation to a program with a mouthful of a name: Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID.

Full article here:

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Another Thank You Notes to Remember - From AVID Student

I wanted to write out a few more of the great thank you notes that I received at the end of the school year.  I do this to remember them and to have them permanently on this blog so that I can pull them up when I am old and grey and smile.  :)

Mr. Duez - 
Where do I being... :)
I wanted to say that this year in AVID has probably been my favorite.  Last year was cool too, but this year I learned to appreciate it more.  Last year in tutoring it helped, but I took it for granted and this year it really helped me in all my classes.  I especially liked it when you came to my tutor group and helped me with my questions because no one else knew the answers like you did.  I would love to switch World History classes!  ha ha!  :)  Anyway, I wanted to thank you for a great two years in AVID and I really hope we have a great year again next year!

Such a sweet note and so nice that she took the time to type it up and fold it out like a card.  Really neat.

AVID is always a struggle because we have the kids for 4 years.  The kids have their ups and downs... and so do I.  But, it's about the long haul.  It's about getting these kids to college.  So you take things one day at a time and one step at a time.  And sometimes one tutoring question at a time.  :)

I can't wait until next year.  It will be so incredible to graduate my first AVID class and to also see my juniors accept the challenge of AP and Dual Credit classes and succeed.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Reflections on the 2009 - 2010 School Year "Best Of"

This was a great year.  I am super happy with the progress of my students.  Only two did not get credit for the year.  I am proud of that.  It definitely is a measure of the fact that I have GREAT students.  And I am committed to doing whatever it takes to help kids learn World History.  I think it is also a reflection of the kind of system I have created to assist students, so that learning is the only thing that matters.  Here's a quick look at the system, in a nutshell:

If a student gets any grade below an 85, they can come to tutoring to make up the work and reassess it.  They can not reassess during our class period, only during tutoring.  My tutoring times are Tuesday and Thursdays from 2:45 to 3:30.  It is up to the students to get in there after school to improve their grades.  But, the grade is just the carrot.  When I get them into tutoring, I'm checking their notes, orally quizzing them, helping with future assignments and working with them to be sure they understand the material.    There are time restraints.  A student can not come in to reassess after our next test.  For example, they can come in and work on Chapter 2 assignments all the way until we test for Chapter 3.  That's the deadline.  So I am not grading and re-grading forever.  The deadline is important.  For last work, they get a 50 if it's late until they come to tutoring and can earn up to an 85 if reassessed and orally quizzed that they indeed know the information (to be sure they did not copy/cheat).  If students do not turn work in before the deadline - it's a zero. 
Many would look at this and say it is watering down the course or worse, 'giving grades.'  But, the kids have to earn it.  They earn it by showing me that they have learned the material.  In the long run, this is all that matters.  And I love having the ability to say to a student (or parent), "Why didn't you come to tutoring to raise any grade that was below an 85."  Number one it's a win-win scenario for me and my students.  That pressure that it is on them and them alone to make the effort and be sure they understand the material... it just puts the pressure where it should be - on the student.  And it puts me in a support role, doing whatever I can to help and assist in the learning.

The year was also wonderful because of the many great and spirited service projects that our school committed to.  We raised over $7,000 for Haiti.  Through NHS at our school, students raised about $6,000 on a balloon campaign  for a young elementary girl dying of cancer so that she could go to Hawaii as her "wish."  Many of my World History and AVID students participated as judges for elementary school student's competition in Ecobot Challenge.  I believe they caught the "service bug."  We committed loads and loads of time as a school into community service and it made our school a much better place to be at in 2009-2010.  Really awesome.

So at the end of the school year, it is time for some reflection.  My first piece of the reflection will focus on a part of my survey.  Each spring I ask my students to fill out a survey that is a reflection of the school year.  Here were some of their comments that stood out or were repeated often:

Best Activities or Assignments of the Year:

Trench Warfare (Video)
It was really fun, although I hid behind a backpack like a coward.
We were allowed to throw paper at each other and did not get in trouble for it!
It was better than using real guns!

Video Project 
Everyone got to do what they wanted.
I loved getting to use computers.
I had never created a video before, so I learned more doing that than anything.
they were so creative, it was so much fun to watch what people came up with.
because we got to go into detail about a subject that we felt strongly about.

Castle Project  (Rubric) (Video)
Such a creative project.  When we are creative on things like this it keeps us more interested in the class.
OMG So much freaking fun!
I loved picking my partner.  We worked so well together.
Building a castle was just pure fun.
Loved being able to work with friends on the Castle.

College & Career Project 
It taught me what I should be looking for in a college.
I thought it was fun and interesting and got to hear what people wanted to be.
I liked the opportunity to do the resume.
It really helped me prepare for my future, Thank You Mr. Duez.

Ball Toss  (Video)
I really liked the ball toss because it allowed us to be active and involved.

Philosophical Chairs 
I really loved PChairs because it made me question my own opinions and views.
I loved debating all the topics.
It was always exciting and got me thinking.

Socratic Seminar  (Edmodo Experiment) (Video)
Using was one of the coolest things.

Rock ArtCollege Essay
It introduced everyone to each other and showed who we are to you.
It was the perfect ice breaker to start the year with.  I felt like I knew everyone after having gone through it.
I got to use my imagination

Human Rights Project 
I liked it the best because everyone had to do their part and we all learned the whole thing together.

World Leader Project 
I liked this one the best because we had a complete say in the leader that we wanted to do.  I loved learning about him.

My Reflections:
I will definitely swap when I do the World Leader Project and Video Project.  This year I came into the school year with a plan to do the Video Project twice because it was such a huge success the previous year.  But, the Video Project needs to happen in the 5th Six Week's Period.  (See last year's awesome videos from spring 2009 here)  It gives the kids more time to know each other better and they can work more cooperatively in teams.  They are also a bit older and more ready to work on videos, work with the technology end of it, and most important do the kind of research it deserves.  By the 5th six week's period the students know me better and are more comfortable asking for help.

The World Leader Project in the second six week's period will give my year a big shot in the arm.  I'll be giving them a research project right out of the gate and that will really help.  We will be working with multiple sources much more quickly and it will lay a great ground work for the kind of research we'll be doing all year long.

I loved the projects we did this year.  They were very similar to what we have done in the past.  But the biggest change was adding rubrics to better direct their writing.  This gave me the chance to add writing rigor to these projects that were not there in the past.  These students wrote better than any previous year that I have had.  I think a lot of that was attributed to the fact that I pushed them to write more and in a more complex way.  (Thesis writing all fall and then working with Documents using DBQs in the spring)  That has to continue next fall and be stronger to get them even more prepared for AP US History.  They don't call it "A-PUSH" for nothing!  It is a signal to me to push these kids even harder, but with lots of support.

I'll add another blog post or two this summer regarding what the student responses were about other questions in the survey, like:
 "What they will remember 10 years from now,"
"A Song, Book or Movie Title to describe the class,"
and their "Words of Warning" to next year's students.

I'd like to thank my friend MissTeacha, a fellow World History teacher, for lots of help and assistance this year.  She has a wonderful way of listening and giving support.  Thank you!