After being named an AVID Schoolwide Site of Distinction for the second year in a row, Mariner Middle AVID coordinator Health Kindl has her sights set on becoming a model school for other AVID programs.
“We’re the only schoolwide site of distinction in the state, so it’s a big honor,” Kindl said. “We’re really proud.”
Mariner Middle has been an AVID school for 11 years, Kindl said. This year, she has 73 students in six AVID classes, two in each grade level. Students must apply and interview for acceptance into the class, which is an additional academic class in their schedule.
AVID students must also complete 20 hours of community service each year, Kindl said. Students visit two colleges a year, so they will have visited six colleges before reaching high school.
Advancement Via Individual Determination was created in 1980 by a California teacher who saw too many students slip through the cracks, so she created a system to help them prepare for career and college by focusing on organization, study skills, notetaking and other effective learning strategies.
Mariner received schoolwide distinction, Kindl said, because AVID fundamentals, such as the Cornell notetaking system in which students take notes, review them and create a self-test column, summarize notes and test themselves, are incorporated throughout the school, not just in her classroom.
Kindl said she could tell all students embrace AVID philosophies on professional dress day during the school’s recent college week.
“Even kids who aren’t in AVID participated,” she said. “We had some students in full suits!”
AVID starts with a foundation in writing, inquiry, collaboration, organization and reading, called WICOR, which is a learning model teachers use to help students understand concepts and state ideas at increasingly complex levels.
All students, not just in AVID classes, receive an organizer with a calendar, definition of WICOR and a WICOR tracker for in-class activities. Every two weeks, students check their grades online and develop a smart goal, Kindl said. At the end of the marking period, students write a reflection piece about what they learned.
Another strategy used in AVID class is a student tutorial, Kindl said.
“If they’re having a problem, they write down what they do and don’t understand and present it to the class,” she said. “The class asks questions to help the student understand. It’s problem-solving and helps with collaborative skills. It makes me proud - it’s very brave of them to get up in front of their peers and say they don’t understand something.”
Kindl said such teambuilding exercises lead to a family atmosphere in the classroom.
“I see a big transition from sixth through eighth grade,” she said. “Students who won’t get up in front of their peers in sixth grade are running for student council by eighth grade. It really makes a difference.”