Looking at the Writing component of AVID, there are many strategies to help students be successful in written communication.
First, writing, like any skill, takes practice. But more than just practice, there needs to be feedback, so that one does not practice mistakes. AVID has a variety of activities to allow students to practice writing in their content area courses (besides English) and receive feedback. I'll start with my list of activities from the week and try to remember more as I think of them.
Quick Writes: Short, frequent writing topics allow students to get their thoughts on paper and practice writing skills. Pre-learning prompts, recall of previous learning, initial thinking prior to discussions,
Cornell Notes: Many have asked why Cornell Notes are so much better than just taking notes... Research from Cornell University shows that those who do not take notes forget 60% in 14 days, those that take notes remember 60%, those that take notes and use them remember 90-100% indefinitely!
What makes Cornell Notes different is the layout and use. We use the acronym STAR for helping students to use notes. S is Set Up. There is a heading, a left side, a right side and the bottom of the paper. Students layout their paper and fill out the heading to set up the notes. T is Take Notes. The right side is the main section, where information provided is recorded. Students can take notes from lectures, books, movies, group work, or whatever on the right side. Of course, students need to be taught how to take notes. A is for After. After class, students reread the notes. While reading, they should make any additions necessary. They should highlight important points. They should also fill out the left side. The left column should have questions, pictures, and memory clues. R is for Review and Reflect. Students should review their notes again. They should try to summarize the main concepts for the bottom section of the note paper. If done following this procedure, they not only take notes, but read through the notes at least twice more. This is much better than taking notes and ignoring them, as students traditionally do.
Reflection: At the end of each activity/lesson students write a reflection of their own learning. This can be balanced with a target, today's student learning goal, at the beginning of the lesson. Reflective writing allows students to self-evaluate their learning and understanding of the material.
Lab Directions: As part of HBL (Hypothesis Based Learning) I have been moving away from pre-made lab directions. Along with allowing Inquiry (a different post), students can practice scientific writing as they develop their own laboratory design. Each step of the scientific method is written out, using correct grammar (well, as much as we expect from middle level writers).
Scavenger Hunt: (A great preview or review activity) Provide students with a list of questions. They interview their classmates, getting a different answer from each of their classmates. For example, after presenting science lab safety procedures, they need to meet their classmates and record their answers to each of the safety questions.
4 Square Analogy: There are many 4 square activities out there, but this one focuses on analogies to a concept. So, not only does the student need to communicate their answer via writing, they need to work on higher level thinking by developing analogies to concepts: Examples of 4 square wuestions on InterActive Notebooks:
-What does it take to be a quality InterActive Notebook?
-The InterActive notebook is like a _________________ because _______________?
-What would it be like to be an InterActive Notebook?
-What would you like to add or change?
T Charts/Venn Diagrams: Although Marzano and Pickering found that summarizing was the most effective learning strategy since it requires students to analyze and evaluate information, comparing and contrasting was the second most effective. Diagrams are great for organizing the ideas and concepts, but also act as a source for reflective summarizing on completion.