- Bismarck Public Schools
BPS Teaching Practices
What Is AVID?
AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) is a schoolwide college-readiness system present in six secondary schools and seven elementary schools within Bismarck Public Schools. The AVID College Readiness System is the only elementary through higher education instructional system (K–16), which allows for regional alignment that strengthens student potential for completion. AVID-trained educators teach students academic, organizational, metacognitive, and leadership skills to help them develop the habits and behaviors needed to succeed in rigorous curriculum. The AVID College Readiness System is a catalyst for developing a school culture that closes the achievement, expectation, and opportunity gaps many students face, and it prepares all students for success in a global society.
At the secondary level, AVID is both a rigorous and intensive college-prep class (called the AVID Elective) offered in grades 6-12 in Bismarck Public Schools and a schoolwide educational framework for best instructional practices aimed to ensure college and career readiness for all students.
The AVID Elective is the core of AVID Secondary. It targets students in the academic middle and above with the desire to go to college and the willingness to work hard. AVID Elective students may be the first in their families to attend college, and some come from groups traditionally underrepresented in higher education. AVID students are capable of completing rigorous curriculum with the support of the AVID Elective class. The AVID Elective class places students on the college track, requiring students to enroll in the most rigorous courses that are appropriate for them, such as Honors and Advanced Placement®. To support them in the rigorous coursework, AVID students learn organizational and study skills, develop critical thinking, learn to ask probing questions, receive academic help from peers and college tutors, and participate in motivational activities to make their college dreams reality. AVID students also get direct instruction on college exploration, scholarships, financial aid, and other college test preparations. Enrollment in AVID requires an application, interview and contract. Applications are available in Student Services at each school.
AVID Frequently Asked Questions
What are the requirements for AVID?
Students in AVID are in the academic middle, have average to above average scores, and are motivated to succeed in school. AVID is not a motivational program; students have to want to improve to be in it.
Is AVID a class?
Yes. AVID is an elective class that fits in a student’s regular schedule. Although only one year is required, AVID students typically remain in the elective class throughout middle and high school.
Do students earn a grade in AVID?
Yes. Because AVID is a class in the student’s schedule, there is a grade.
What do you do in AVID?
- Learn the Focused Note Taking process and apply them to each of their classes.
- Learn test-taking strategies as well as time management and proper study skills.
- Explore college and career options while working with WICOR strategies (Writing, Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization, Reading).
- Maintain the AVID organizational system, which holds materials from all of their classes.
- Visit colleges across the state and possibly other states, from freshmen through senior year.
- Prepare for the SAT and ACT and begin filling out college applications.
- Apply for college and college scholarships
IS AVID a remedial program?
No. Students chosen for the AVID program have strong academic potential. It is only for students who have a desire to improve and have the intrinsic motivation to be successful.
Birth-Grade 12 Comprehensive Literacy Plan
The BPS/BECEP comprehensive literacy plan address the needs of children from birth through grade twelve in our community. This plan supports alignment of literacy instruction and experiences throughout each age span to ensure successful transitions between grades/programs/schools. The literacy plan includes all of the key components of effective literacy instruction and supports continuous improvement: clear standards; assessments to inform instruction; curriculum and interventions; professional development aligned with standards; as well as parent and community involvement.
The BPS/BECEP Comprehensive Literacy Plan was developed by the Local Literacy Team as a requirement of the Striving Readers Comprehensive Grant and will be evaluated by the literacy team and updated on a yearly basis.
Please review the BPS/BECEP Literacy Plan
Why A Flex Mod Schedule?
- Students engage in comprehensive offerings of rigorous <courses within a Flex Mod structure that both support students individually and build community.
- Educators collaborate in the Flex Mod environment, creating research-based programs to facilitate students’ academic and personal growth.
- Students and teachers collaborate one-on-one and in small groups during “Flex Time" built in to specifically to support the learner.
- Students are more involved in making decisions regarding their learning with the support and guidance of educators and parents, giving them opportunities to become better organized, motivated, and self-directed.
- Students have greater access to community resources because of the flexibility of the schedule and the variety of class structures.
- For more information on the BPS Flex Mod Scheduling, please visit the LearnBPS BlogSpot on Flex Mod Scheduling.
Daily Structure of Flex Mod Schedules
In a Flex Mod environment, students will experience a variety of learning structures.
- Large group: 50-200 students team-taught by a group of teachers; can be used for lecture, guest speakers and assessment. The primary purposes of large group are to gain student and teacher time and to use resources (human and material) that are not normally available for long periods of time. Also, it is here that teachers often present introductory ideas and pose questions which motivates students to prepare for small group discussion. Sometimes large groups are used for testing.
- Small group: more like a traditional class size (less than 30 students) taught by one teacher; can be used for direct instruction, Socratic seminar, inquiry/research, collaborative work and assessment. The purpose of the small group is to provide an opportunity for students to develop communication skills, analytical powers and judgment. Small group discussions are an important aspect of most courses.
- Flex Time: allows students to make choices about how to meet their own instructional needs by meeting with a teacher one-on-one or in a small group, researching in the learning commons, working collaboratively with a small group of classmates on a project, meeting with a school counselor, making up work, etc. At a time in our society when the age of majority is eighteen years of age, we must help students develop self-reliance. To enhance this development, we are committed to aid each student in learning how to effectively use his/her Flex Time.
Enrichment and Interventions in Flex Mod Schedules
- First line of defense for enrichment & intervention is the classroom instructor through “Call Back” time (teacher/student/parent communication)
- Second line of defense is mandatory Flex Time/ Personalized Learning Time assigned by administration
- Third line is consult with administration on other protocols for struggling students or enriched learning opportunities
Research Based Flex Mod Scheduling
Educational research shows us time and time again that “one size fits all” does not apply to teaching and learning. BPS researched this schedule and have seen it in action at Westside High School, Omaha, NE. This video link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YV4HWXVVJ08 provides basic background information regarding the flexible modular schedule at Merrill High School, Merrill, WI. The video explains the philosophy behind the schedule and the components of the model.
Flex Mod Scheduling ChallengesFlex/Mod offers unique opportunities for team teaching, interdisciplinary classes, and ongoing professional development that draw on the strengths of the staff. On the other hand, schools must deal with the following challenges:
Flex/Mod is not a perfect system, but BPS is committed to refining the process. Because with the right settings, with the right staff, combined with researched-based instructional practices, the benefits of Flex/Mod can be significant.
- PowerScheduler software cannot schedule Flex/Mod. At Legacy High School, a school of about currently 1100 students, a master timetable with almost 5,000 individual class phases must be created each school year.
- Unstructured independent learning time leads to unique student accountability and attendance challenges.
- There are conflicts with CTE Traditional Block Schedule with LHS Flex/Mod scheduling, so two different class phases may overlap a day or two each week.
- Because a higher degree of responsibility and ownership for learning are placed on the student in a Flex/Mod system, extra attention and focus need to be given to those students who take advantage of the system.
- Mods 9 to 16 are designated for lunch for students to use from their open mods, however there are some students that occasionally get only a 20 minute lunch on some days.
- Because Flex/Mod is so different from what most adults are familiar with, there is a continual need to educate parents, new teachers, board members, and the community about the value and philosophy behind it.
What is STEM? Why is STEM taught in Bismarck Public Schools?
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
Students are immersed in science, technology, engineering, and math as these exist in everyday life – interwoven and integrated. STEM aims to increase awareness of the Engineering Design Process and science, technology, engineering, and math as a whole. Students are exposed to projects that increase technological literacy, cross-curricular learning, and global thinking. The projects in STEM focus on Big Ideas and often current events. The projects include hands-on and research projects. Students work in groups, pairs, or as individuals depending on the project.
STEM has proven to develop soft skills just as much as core concepts. Students are learning to be problem solvers, collaborate with each other, perform research, and follow the Engineering Design Process all while improving their core subject areas.
- PBS Design Squad:pbskids.org/designsquad
- Kiwicrate: kiwicrate.com
- Make magazine: makezine.com
- Steve Spangler: stevespangler.com
- Camp Wonderopolis: camp.wonderopolis.org
- EdHeads : edheads.org
- LegoMindstorms: lego.com/en-us/mindstorms
- Discovery Education: discoveryeducation.com
- NASA: nasa.gov/offices/education
- International Technology & Engineering Educators Association: iteea.org
- 21st Century Workforce Skills: p21.org
- TeachEngineering : teachengineering.org/
What are Success Skills?
BPS worked with community members and local school building communities to create our picture of a successful graduate. A graduate who is
career, college, and community ready. Bismarck students are provided opportunities to enhance their critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication skills through their K-12 educational experiences. These competencies are referred to as success skills by BPS but are also commonly termed “4Cs,” 21st Century Skills,” or “College and Career Readiness Skills. The first two resources below are used to guide classroom practice. The other resources point to online resources and materials provided by a variety of national organizations and groups.”
Success Skills Resources:
- BPS Student and Teacher Success Skills Behaviors
- BPS Success Skills Rubrics (only accessible to BPS Staff)
- Buck Institute for Education Project Design Elements
- 21st Century Workforce Skills