Tuesday, October 30, 2012

AVID Conference Notes

A few years ago, I attended AVID Training...these are my notes. I doubt the audio links or others will work.

AVID Conference Notes

This week, I'm attending the AVID Conference in Austin, Tx. Although the NECC is taking place in Philadelphia, I'm excited about finally learning all about AVID, and especially Socratic Seminar. To that end, I posted some entries in the work blog about my experiences at the AVID Conference. Want to see photos, listen to audio and view video clips? Click on the links to each day below. However, for my own blog, I've only included the narrative for each day in this blog:
AVID Conference 2005 Update: Day 1

The following are Miguel Guhlin’s notes on AVID Conference 2005 that took place in Austin, Tx 
during the week of June 26th. Participants from all around my district attended. These notes, photos, and video clips are provided for those who might benefit from them. An update will be posted for each day for the purposes of sharing what was learned with others, as well as modelling “blogging” and “podcasting,” two new innovative ways to use technology in teaching and learning environments.

Today, we began learning the Socratic Seminar approach. Included are also pictures of the work created. The conference is organized in the following way:

In the morning, you spend time in your particular strand working with folks from all around the nation (world, in some cases). The strand we’re in focuses on Socratic Seminar. In the afternoon, teachers meet together to develop a campus-specific plan.

The purpose of this session is for participants to understand, practice and train others in the effective use of Socratic Seminar Instructional techniques. Our presenter was Ellen McCollum from San Diego, California. She introduced us to the “circle” which characterizes Socratic Seminar on Day 1, but first gave us some background and warm-up activities. This is a rough outline of what occurred:

1) After brief introductions (listen to them here; audio quality isn’t that great but gives you the flavor of meeting people for the first time) from folks all over the United States, with these directions in mind, we created Venn diagrams–in groups of 4-5 adults–about the differences between dialogue and debate (listen to one of the presentations).

2) The facilitator established ground rules for behavior in the class; these were called “norms.” They included a wide variety of items. As we discussed these whole group, someone wrote them down on a white sheet of paper and we agreed to adhere to them while we were together.

3) After agreeing to ground rules, she gave us an article to read by Mortimer Adler. The title of the article was Democracy and Education. We sat in a large circle and we each stated a question we had about the article. This was difficult, especially if you were at the end since most folks honed in on particular questions. Some of the key points of the article included the following:

-All children are educable, not just trainable for jobs.

-Universal suffrage and universal schooling are necessary to one another. The first without the other means failure.

-Success in schools must be defined as same quality of schooling for all, as opposed to same quantity of schooling for all.

-”The best education for the best is the best education for all.” (Robert M. Hutchins)
There were many questions about this article, some of them quite profound. Ellen, as facilitator, had everyone share their specific question, then focused in on one question. She really didn’t have a good explanation of WHY she chose that particular question and has later explained it as, “Whatever works for you.”

The resulting discussion took us in many directions and “broke the ice,” so to speak, about the idea of Socratic Seminar. We broke for lunch with a homework assignment.

AVID Conference Day 2 (Tuesday)

Building on introduction to Socratic Seminar, we were introduced to a variety of small group activities for tutorial sessions prior to actually beginning a Socratic Seminar. We also engaged in Socratic Seminar and everyone had the chance to participate in both the “inner” and “outer” circle.

For homework, we read an article. After reading the article, we came in Tuesday. In an activity meant to introduce us to various tutorial sessions, the facilitator assigned different activities to each small group. Some of these activities included the following with these directions (note that you can view the actual example when it is available underneath each explanation; some items include short video clips):

1-Venn Diagram: Compare/contrast two characters from the text.
Example not available.

2-Cluster Activity: Select one representative word from the text and put it in the center of the page. Students brainstorm what they have learned in the article/story in regards to the word.
View Photo Example

3-T-Graph: Divide the paper into two parts with a large “T”. On the right side of the paper, the teacher presents a preselected list of five or six quotes directly from the story. Label this side as “Quotes”. On the the left-hand side of the T, students write down their collaboratively decided meaning of the quote and its importance to the story. This side is labelled “Interpretation.”
View Photo Example and Video Clip (13 megs)

4-PMI Chart: Students collaboratively list ideas/issues/values from the story that they found to be a “Plus” to the story, those that they found to be a “Minus” in the story and those that were simply “Interesting” from the text.
View Photo Example

5-Vocabulary Collection: Students search for new vocabulary or words to display on a five-pointed star that has been labelled for them. The labels may include the “5 Ws” or five separate categories such as People, Things, Feelings, Places, and Interesting Words.


The idea of Socratic Seminar, with an inner group of students discussing a particular item and an outer group watching their respective inner group participant, seems a bit impossible at first. Yet, once you are placed in the inner circle, it is an engaging experience. Here’s a quick overview of the process:

1) Arrange the classroom into two circles of chairs. You can see that the organization of the chairs isn’t brain surgery from this quick photo. Class is divided into two groups. The first group forms the inner circle. The second group forms the outer circle.

2) The inner circle members directions are pretty straightforward. We are handed a piece of paper and asked to jot down some notes, questions we might have regarding the article/story we read for class. We will share one of the questions or statements we have written with the whole group.

Outer circle members are also given another instruction: watch a specific partner and complete the following tally sheet (items shown below) for them. The purpose of this is to keep them engaged and listening. I found this to be particularly true since it enabled me to focus on one person, even as I listened to the discussion. Trying to keep track of others in the group would have been more difficult.

Observation Form: Inner-outer Discussion Circle
Your Name:
Partner’s Name:
Directions: Each time your partner does one of the following, put a check in the box:








AFTER DISCUSSION: What is the most interesting thing your partner said?

AFTER DISCUSSION: What would you like to have said in the discussion?
Apparently, these individual pages–whether for inner/outer circle–can also be collected for grading purposes.

3) After everyone in both circles knows their job, each inner circle member shares their question/statement. The facilitator then asks one of the individual to elaborate on what they said. Again, the choice is up to the facilitator as to who to start with. And, then, the discussion begins.

4) After a specified time, the facilitator ends the discussion. She then invites the outer circle to provide feedback to the particular inner circle member they were partnered with. The facilitator is sure to cut short any feedback that does not specifically to the Observation Form.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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