Fun Avid Projects for Middle Schools

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In Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) classes, students prepare to meet college entrance standards and to stay in college with good grades. The term “avid” comes from the Latin "avidus," which means longing eagerly for, and "avere," to desire eagerly.

The AVID teaching methodology is called WICR or writing, inquiry, collaboration and reading. Middle school teachers create an environment that fosters eagerness and desire to learn by adding fun activities to the rigorous AVID curriculum.

1 Write to Learn

AVID students use writing as a tool for learning. Students learn to clarify and communicate clearly, which develops comprehension skills. Middle school AVID writing tasks that feel like fun actually help students expand and reinforce writing skills.

Researching careers is a typical middle school activity. Add rigor to the task by asking each student to create a photo essay or video to “sell” her career idea to others. The student is required to research what makes the career a good choice, what the job is really like and what education and skills are needed to hold the job. Have the student describe the pros and cons of the job.

Teachers from Kingwood Park High School in Houston, Texas, share the Dream Career Project template used in that AVID program, which can be easily adapted for middle school students.

Writing movie reviews is fun and rigorous. The student must give and support her personal opinion about the movie. AVID Region 1 in California provides an example of a movie review assignment,

2 Student Inquiry

AVID requires student-based inquiry, not teacher directed lecture. Inquiry activities focus on asking questions that require students to clarify, analyze and synthesize material.

Finding online games that reinforce content information is an engaging and challenging inquiry activity. The student defends his choice of game with an analysis of how the game meets AVID classroom standards.

Alconbury Middle School in Huntingdon, England, posted a list of online game sites students found to review content such as geography, math, world languages and logic.

3 Responsibility for Learning

The AVID classroom is not a traditional one in which a teacher lectures to passive students. An AVID teacher is a facilitator and an advocate. Students are responsible for their own learning.

Find adults in the community to visit the classroom and talk about their careers and answer student questions. Political leaders, athletes, medical professionals and business people have much to share with students and will appreciate insightful student questions.

School-wide projects are an exciting way for AVID students to share learning with the entire student body. Have AVID students host a College Cheer competition that will raise the awareness for all students of the need to plan, prepare and attend college.

4 Critical Reading

AVID students don’t merely read words; they read between the lines and beyond the lines. Students analyze, question, critique, clarify, comprehend and reflect on what they read.

At the end of each quarter, have each student write a reflection about the most significant lessons learned from being in the AVID class. Use the AVID strategies as the basis for the reflection. Ask students to read a poem and create a poster about the feelings the poem evokes. The student selects a favorite line and tells why it touched her. A complete poem analysis lesson guide is available from AVID Region 1.

Lynn Brogan has her own writing business and is developing American literature curriculum for Brogan has a doctorate in educational leadership from Teachers College at Columbia University and recently earned her PMP certification. She teaches Introduction to Project Management at Pierce College in Washington State.