Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Former AVID Student & Tutor Rosa Fishman

Submitted by Alex T, 9th grade AVID student

A few weeks ago, Ms. Rosa came back from college in the States. I had known her as an AVID tutor from last year. But this year she came back to be our guest speaker. She was there to give us an insider’s view into the world of college--things like how to get through a classes lecture you have a hard time in, how to get a good roommate, and what sort of extracurricular activities you should attend. I think it helped our students.

The first thing she talked about was how to get the most out of class-long lectures. She said that you should always sit in the middle or front row. Also you should make sure your professor knows your name. Finally, she talked about what you should do if you do not understand a subject. Since the professor knows you are a good student it would be fine if you approached him or her after class to ask a question.

Also she talked about how you should get a good roommate. She said that she lived in an apartment complex solely affiliated with the college. She said you had to fill out a personality survey that would pair you up with a person you could live with, but if you could not deal with this person, you could switch roommates.

Finally, she talked about extracurricular activities. She said that you should do things that you are interested in; like for her, it was Model U.N. And the good thing for her was that it had just started, so she became vice-president of it.

Her advice I think will help when we go to college. It also illustrates the importance of AVID-taught skills such as Cornell notes and Socratic Seminars that Ms. Rosa uses in college. It was a good lecture.

Ms. Coe Describes Careers in Social Services

Submitted by Stella S, grade 10 AVID student

In late December,we had our second AVID guest speaker of the year. Her name was Kaarin Coe and she is our school's ASAC's counselor. She is a New York native and social worker. She received her undergraduate degree at Hatwick College and her graduate degree from Syracuse University.

Our class learned a lot from Ms.Coe, such as the different degrees of social work. There are a Bachelors of Social Work, a Masters of Social Work, and a Doctorate of Social Work. At least a Master's degree in social work is needed to provide therapy.

Ms.Coe has worked hard to get where she is today. She has had years of experience and has worked with many people. In the past, she's worked with delayed adults, youth groups, in domestic violence courts, Planned Parenthood facilities, and even in a locked psychiatric facility.

Prior to Ms. Coe's discussion, I didn't know exactly what social workers did. Now I know that social workers are dedicated to helping people and work in places like schools, courts, clinics, and even police departments and hospitals. Social workers strive to create better social environments and help people succeed.

As Ms. Coe put it "social workers basically try to put themselves out of business."

Farewell to Kierra

Kierra bid us farewell Thursday after one and a half years in AVID.

She left us with the following thoughts....

AVID has helped me in so many good ways. Cornell notes were the biggest help of all. I am now organized, and I get better grades. AVID teaches students to be an individual and to be determined. AVID is a class that teaches you to go after your goals...for example, college. AVID tries to get students' minds set on college. AVID has helped me with school, and I would like to thank all AVID teachers and tutors as well as the AVID students.

AVID students, her teachers, and tutors wish her well.


An assembly honored middle school students who exhibit the pillar of character....respect. Knowing the high expectations that AVID has of its students in every way, we knew that many of our AVID classmates names would be called. AVID students honored for their respect of peers, teachers, and their environment included: Harriet, Jose, Jonathan, Lakara, Gabby, Eboni, Tiera, Justine, Jarrett, Sedric, and Mikayla.

Studies Find Benefits to AP Courses

(*Note: Bold-facing by Ms. Pienta)

Good Scores on AP Exams Correlate with Better College Grades and Graduation Rates, Data on Texas Students Show

By Jay Mathews
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 29, 2007; B02

In the midst of a national debate over whether Advanced Placement courses place too much pressure on U.S. high school students, a team of Texas researchers has concluded that the difficult courses and three-hour exams are worth it.

In the largest study ever of the impact of AP on college success, which looked at 222,289 students from all backgrounds attending a wide range of Texas universities, the researchers said they found "strong evidence of benefits to students who participate in both AP courses and exams in terms of higher GPAs, credit hours earned and four-year graduation rates."

A separate University of Texas study of 24,941 students said those who used their AP credits to take more advanced courses in college had better grades in those courses than similar students who first took college introductory courses instead of AP in 10 subjects.

"Both of these papers are home runs. They definitely settle a lot," said Joseph Hawkins, an AP expert and senior study director for the private research firm Westat in Rockville.

The new studies run counter to an unpublished Harvard University and University of Virginia study that casts doubt on the worth of AP science courses and contradict some critics who say that high school courses, even with an AP label, cannot match the depth of college introductory courses.

The new studies constitute the largest mass of new data on AP since participation in the College Board program began to skyrocket a decade ago. The College Board, which paid for both studies, is expected to announce next week that nearly 2.3 million AP tests for 37 courses were given in 2006, a 200 percent increase since 1995. Some college admissions experts speculate that the college-level exams, written and graded by independent experts, will eventually supplant the SAT and ACT as the country's most important tests.

Selective colleges have made enrollment in AP or its less popular counterpart, International Baccalaureate, virtual requirements for admission. Teenagers in many high schools, particularly in the Washington suburbs, compete with one another to take the most AP or IB courses and tests. Yet some researchers have argued that the courses do not prepare students as well for college as AP advocates say.

The larger Texas study confirms two other studies in the past three years that good grades on the three-hour AP exams correlate with better grades and graduation rates in college, and it goes further by saying that students with similar SAT or ACT scores and economic backgrounds do better in college if they have taken the AP courses and exams. Some Washington area school systems say the exams are a vital part of the AP experience and require that AP students take them, but most U.S. systems make the tests optional.

Independent experts on AP called the Texas data impressive but said they would like a closer look at successful AP students. University of California researcher Saul Geiser said more research is needed on whether student motivation and academic preparation could account for the differences in college outcomes.

The larger Texas study also found that even a score of 2 out of a possible 5 points on an AP exam correlates with better college performance than that achieved by students who did not take AP or who skipped the AP exam, although colleges usually give credit only for scores of 3 or above. Chrys Dougherty, director of research at the National Center for Educational Accountability in Austin, said, "We would expect the group that chooses to skip the exam to have a disproportionate number of students who didn't get a strong AP curriculum in the first place."

The larger of the two studies, by University of Texas at Austin researchers Linda Hargrove and Barbara Dodd and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board researcher Donn Godin, also concluded that AP students do better in college than similar students who have taken college courses in high school. This finding confirms the view of several selective college admissions deans that the local college offerings, called dual enrollment courses, are often not as challenging as AP. But it is not likely to be welcomed by the thousands of high school educators who prefer dual enrollment courses to AP and IB.

The smaller of the two studies, by University of Texas at Austin researchers Leslie Keng and Dodd, produced results different from a widely reported study, also unpublished, by Harvard researcher Philip M. Sadler and University of Virginia researcher Robert H. Tai. Sadler and Tai, surveying 8,594 students at 63 colleges, said students who took AP science courses in high school did not do significantly better than non-AP students when they took science courses in college.

Several selective colleges, citing similar concerns about the rigor of AP courses and exams, have refused to let students with passing AP grades get college credit and jump to the next level. But at the University of Texas at Austin, AP students did better in the next level courses than non-AP students who took university introductory courses. University of Texas students can receive credit for introductory biology, calculus and English classes with AP exam grades of 3 and above. Credit for introductory courses in chemistry, macroeconomics and U.S. history goes to those with AP exam grades of 4 or 5.

In general, Keng and Dodd said, students who earned AP credit "outperformed students in the other groups across all 10 AP exams investigated." They said the result was particularly noteworthy because the AP students were not being compared to lower-performing students but those who had about the same class rank and SAT or ACT scores as they did in high school.
Sadler said, "I remain unconvinced that the study controlled for enough variables to rule out alternative hypotheses," such as previous preparation and parental education, for the AP students' performance.

Monday, January 29, 2007

AVID Family Workshop #3 on February 6

Mark your calendars and bring your portfolio binder to the next AVID Family Workshop on February 6 at 17:00-18:00 in the NEW Multi-purpose Room at the new school!

The topic will information for TAB 8 in the binder: College Selection. It's never too early to know what to look for and what you are looking for. Learn all about the best ways to do that with your child and receive the inserts.

If you were unable to attend the last workshop and receive your personal portfolio, you will get at at this workshop.

As usual, light refreshments will be served and door prize awarded. See you soon!

Ms. Pienta & Ms. Sibayan

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Schools Seek More Female Engineering Majors

ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- Georgia Tech freshman Val Uyemura caught a glimpse of her future even before she started classes in electrical engineering.

"When I went to orientation, they split us up by major and I was the only woman," Uyemura said.

Uyemura, 18, whose parents have engineering degrees, is one of 87 women out of 855 engineering majors enrolled at the school. Nationally, women make up only about one-fifth of students in engineering programs.

Experts argue that if the United States is to remain competitive with other countries in the engineering field, it will have to find better ways to encourage women to join the profession.

"One of the reasons has to do with the negative stereotype in engineering -- the nerd drinking Cokes and eating Twinkies until 3 in the morning," said William Wulf, president of the National Academy of Engineering. "The really important attribute of an engineer is creativity. Somehow that's not what high school girls are hearing about."

The U.S. lags behind countries such as China and India in producing engineers and scientists out of college each year, and women and minorities are key to improving that standing, Wolf said. They bring the diverse perspectives needed for the innovation that can set the U.S. apart, he said.

A 2003 study by the University of Michigan's Institute for Research on Women and Gender found that females choose other careers because they don't see engineering as a way to help others. The study, conducted over 17 years, followed Michigan students from 6th grade through college and beyond.

Georgia Tech offers annual engineering camps for middle- and high-school girls, and the university's students and alumni regularly visit schools to talk to science and math classes. A mentoring program also connects female engineering majors in their third and fourth years with freshmen who want to major in engineering.

Still, female enrollment hasn't changed much at the Atlanta university in the last decade, and programs elsewhere meant to encourage women to join the field have generally proven ineffective.

Women received 18 percent of the 78,200 engineering degrees given out in 2003-04, the latest data available from the U.S. Department of Education. That's the same percentage as in 1998 and only slightly more than the 16 percent in 1996.

Mahera Philobos, director of Georgia Tech's Women in Engineering program and a civil and environmental engineering professor, said she's frustrated by the stagnant female enrollment but that more women have recently been enrolling in areas like biomedical and industrial engineering -- fields where many feel they can contribute to the world, she said.

Manhattan Associates, an Atlanta-based company that hires industrial engineers to work as consultants for clients, received more female applicants this year than in years past, said Diane Tuccito, the firm's vice president for global human resources. But most applicants are still white males, she said.

"We want to have a diverse organization," Tuccito said. "You get a better collaboration."

From CNN. Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.

Find this article at: http://www.cnn.com/2007/EDUCATION/01/22/female.engineers.ap

Friday, January 19, 2007

Text Messaging Affecting Student Writing?

I have seen several articles on this very topic recently. Be aware and make sure Standard Written English is being used in students' papers and work!

From The Tenneseean
Thursday, 01/18/07
Teachers fear text effect
Keypad shortcuts creep into English classwork
Staff Writer

"Sometimes it seems like kids are using another language. And sometimes, they are.
Call it "text speak," or "Web slanguage." No matter how you label it, if you were born pre-Internet era, odds are you don't understand it.

"This shorthand style of writing omits vowels and punctuation in favor of numbers and abbreviations.

"For children with cell phones or instant messaging, text speak is a staple of casual communication, but in some Middle Tennessee schools, it's making a jump from the chatroom to the classroom." To read the whole article, go HERE.

A Glossary of common text-messaging abbreviations is included on the sidebar. Here are a few of them:
AAR8 – At any rate
AFAIC – As far as I'm concerned
AFK – Away from keyboard
4N – Bye for nowBBS – Be back soon
BCNU – Be seeing you
BRB – Be right back
BTW – By the way
CD9 – Code 9: Parents nearby
CUL8R – See you later
F2F – Face to face
F2T – Free to talk
G2G – Got to go
GR8 – Great

Another very good article entitled "IM Shorthand Slips Off Computer Screens And Into Schoolwork" appeared recently in the Washington Post.

It starts like this:
"Zoe Bambery, a senior at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, might send more than 100 instant messages -- IMs -- during a typical evening. So during the SAT exam, the 18-year-old found herself inadvertently lapsing into IM-speak, using "b/c" instead of "because" as she scrambled to finish her essay."

Thursday, January 18, 2007

100 Best Values in Public Colleges

This is sponsored by the financial magazine, Kiplinger's.

For the most current data, see their updated ranking of the top 50 Best Values in Public Colleges which was updated in early 2007.

Sort the overall rankings for both in-state students and out-of-state students, cost, quality measures (such as graduation rates in 4 or 6 years, enrollment, test scores, admission rates, and student/faculty ratio) or financial aid measures. Then select All States or any number of individual states (hold down the control key as you click to choose more than one), or select All Schools or any number of individual colleges. Clicking on the college names in the table will take you to their Web sites. There is also a place to ask your questions in their online community

Very cool search engine. Try it!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Semester Exams and Their Importance

Semester exams are scheduled to be given next week, 23-26 January. AVID students have recorded the dates and times of exams in their planners. Although teachers are not required to give exams, many do, and parents and students should be aware of this.

Semester exams can account for as much as 20% of a semester grade.

Therefore, a semester grade may be made up of these parts:

Quarter 1 = 40%
Quarter 2 = 40%
Exam = 20%

TOTAL = 100%

More importantly, semester grades are the only ones that go on official transcripts.

These transcripts are the ones that go to colleges, scholarship and training programs, and future high schools. It's very important that students maximize this time and achieve the highest possible grades for the semester.


Farewell to Julie

Freshman AVID student Julie T recently transferred to Patch HS in Stuttgart, Germany. She was honored at a farewell party in December. We will sorely miss her, but luckily she is going to a great AVID program and will have the same classes she had here in Sigonella. Good luck, Julie!

Starting 2007 with a BANG!

Congratulations to these AVID students for their fantastic grades on the first binder check of 2007:

A+ (100-105%)

Juniors: Asher B, Kevin R, Carlo A, and Patrick F,
Sophomores: Nico L, Brittany B, and Tim F
Freshmen: Caitlin G, Elishah H, Kiersten D, and Aica D
8th Grade: Marco M

A (90-99%)

Juniors: Mia S
Sophomores: Mighel D
Freshmen: Elisa V

G R E A T J O B !!

The next binder check will by on February 7, the beginning of the new semester.

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