How I Saved AVID Tutorials

Image - Jamboard

Kelsey Ogg
English III OnRamps & EOC Interventions | AVID Elective | PPFT Transformative Technology Pathway | Teacher of the Year Nominee 20-21 | Crockett ECHS

By design, the AVID elective class is meant to be a hands-on, collaborative, family environment — all of which go directly against the CDC’s guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19. In years past, I’ve always avoided making robust BLEND courses for my AVID students, because so much of the important work we do doesn’t transfer easily into the technological world. When we were told that classes would be staying online through the 20-21 school year, I immediately began brainstorming ways to take tutorials, Fun Fridays, teambuilding, socratic seminars, and our close-knit vibe from the classroom to the Zoom room. 

The biggest hurdle I needed to conquer was AVID tutorials. For those who aren’t familiar with the process, students complete a Tutorial Request Form that gives them the space to work through complex concepts up until they can identify a specific “point of confusion”; they bring that question to their tutorial group (5-7 peers) add present it using a whiteboard while their group members ask guiding questions to help them reach an understanding. Every single step had to be reimagined to work virtually. 

I started from the beginning — the TRF. I needed something that was familiar to students, editable, customizable, could house “handwritten” work (like solving math problems, drawing t-charts, or brainstorming with a mind map), and was easy to share back and forth between student and teacher. I decided to replicate the TRF into a Google Slides presentation, using the image of the handout as the background and creating pre-populated, fillable text boxes for students to record their responses. Students were already familiar with Google Slides and this allowed them to keep all their TRFs in one place, share them to me easily, and receive comments/annotations from me about their work (student samples here, here, and here). 

The TRF was the easy part. The collaboration element kept me awake at night. I knew it wasn’t reasonable to expect my students to replicate an authentic tutorial conversation through Zoom. Despite us having an incredibly strong class dynamic, some students would be new to me, some students would not be able to unmute or turn their videos on, some students may have poor attendance or poor wifi, some students may not be comfortable. I needed our product to cover the elements of a whiteboard as well as the task of asking/answering questions — so I decided to experiment with Jamboard. I set up a “board” for each group that had a column for each student’s point of confusion, as well as separate spaces for the presenter and the group members to post interactions. This would allow groups to collaborate without the risk of speaking into the Zoom room OR having their work lost in the Zoom chat once the meeting ended. It made their progress, questioning, and learning visual.

And it was working. 

The learning curve was steep and the experience was not nearly as loud, rowdy, and chaotic as having 30+ kids huddled around whiteboards in my classroom, but it was working. 

Students were pasting images from their notes and BLEND and Google; they were using the pen to draw out math equations and t-charts; they were posing questions and responding to them; they were bringing in supporting resources and materials; they were doing AVID tutorials. Completely silently, in the void of Zoom, there was learning and collaboration happening. 

I have never been more proud of a group of students than I am with these 11th grade AVID scholars. The patience, resilience, and courage that they demonstrated just to humor me and my grandiose tutorial ideas is something that will stick with me forever.

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