All posts by Christa Struckmeyer

Today the Classroom, Tomorrow the World

photo_cvr_earth1_hrIt is our students’ oyster.  They have it in their hands.  Which ever saying one chooses to use, our current students may one day change the world.  I tell my students they have time to develop their dreams and find what they love so that they can institute change.  For some, their dreams include stability and benefits; for others, their dreams are composed of making changes that can cross borders and improve lives across the hemispheres. It becomes my job to show them how they can prepare during their junior year of AVID.

This blog has been inundated with all things AVID, but this is only because I believe that college is for all students and student loans are not the only way to achieve a degree.  With that being said, our AVID elective team has a great deal of curriculum dealing with critically reading, effectively writing, collaboration, inquiry, and organization.  However, some of our hidden curriculum deals with how students communicate and interact in many discourses. Continue reading Today the Classroom, Tomorrow the World


Lack of Social Media

While sitting at Mesa High School’s homecoming carnival, I turned to one of our senior AVID elective teachers, Nancy Berthold, and told her about some of the trends that are occurring in social media.  When I mentioned such topics like Fagan-Smith’s idea of social media, “…providing a great way to achieve instant communication.  It’s about social networking- being able to engage and collaborate through a digital medium” (  Our discussion became worrisome, how does AVID connect with students and parents on a local as well as national level?  My interview with Nancy, a decade long AVID teacher, became a conversation about what we were doing, what we were missing, and how could we get our system back on track.

Conversation Part I:  What are we doing?

Nancy: “We have the website.  That is a very good resource.  Students can access videos, and get great information on what is happening at a national level with AVID.  Also, teachers can go online and access a huge curricular resource: calendars, units, projects, the 11 essentials of AVID are all at the teachers’ fingertips.  That is a pretty great resource. Continue reading Lack of Social Media

On the Verge of Future

AVID juniors in high school stand in a frustrating quagmire.  They are knowledgeable about the campus, protocols, teachers and events- real big fish in a little pond.   As  upperclassmen they are very aware that their time in high school is  edging towards graduation.  Especially as their older friends and classmates begin narrowing their college choices and worrying about their future roommate.  However, a high school junior is still in high school.  They see the future, yet are stuck in the same desks that they have plopped themselves into for the past two years.  As their AVID teacher, my job is to have them writing for prompts that they are not expected to be able to complete for another year, all while convincing them that they should always strive for college level writing.  I basically tell them that although most of them are not writing close to the collegiate level, I still expect them to strive for that ability before they reach their senior year. Continue reading On the Verge of Future

College Prep Discourse

My parents are well-educated, and when I was growing up, common conversations at the dinner table included college.  I remember in my early years, we would discuss mascots and school colors. As an “tween” our conversations gravitated towards the NCAA, and throughout my high school career we discussed colleges and out-of-state opportunities.  I wasn’t sure of what I was going to do when I turned thirty, but I knew that I would be looking back at college memories.  When I graduated high school, 86% of my graduating class was going to a community college or university.  After graduation, I began teaching in a district were college was not discussed at the dinner table.  In fact, college was viewed as taking  young adults away from earning money and their families.  At my current site, only a percent of students go to college.  Ten years ago, eighteen percent of students went to college, currently about twenty-eight percent go onto college. Although the number of students going onto college has risen, the small percent of post-secondary education was shocking.  As previous discussed on my last blog post, AVID has  changed the college going culture at my school site.  However, the curriculum is part of the success of the program.  There is also a great deal of hidden curriculum or discourse that is included in our system.

As stated by Gee, discourse is “the different ways in which we humans integrate language with non-language, such as the different ways of thinking, acting, interacting, valuing, feeling, believing, and using symbols, tools, and objects in the right places and the right time…” (Gee 22).  A great deal of the discourse in AVID comes from the instructors.  To begin, AVID teachers must be asked to join, each instructor must be dedicated to the program.  Additionally, after each academic year AVID instructors must agree to teach AVID again so a to avoid boredom or fatigue.  This changes the culture of how these teachers are viewed by the rest of the faculty.  I have been told many times by teachers that I am so dedicated to my students.  I work with some of the most dedicated people in the business, however, the discourse of AVID makes me appear differently to my co-workers. Continue reading College Prep Discourse

Writing to Get to College: The AVID Way

At the end 2013-2014 school year, six-hundred eighty-five Mesa High seniors donned their caps and gowns and walked across a stage.  Each student embraced their high school diploma with perfect posture and a smile that stretched from ear to ear.  With the announcing of each name, scores of friends and family scream and cheer, waving signs and on occasion using air-horns.  For some students, graduation marks the end of their educational journey.  For others, it is just the beginning.  Within a small group of graduates, this night is a record-breaking event.  Fifty-five Mesa High seniors were awarded a record-breaking 5.2 million dollars in scholarship money.  These students were all members of an elective course that I have the great honor of teaching, AVID. Continue reading Writing to Get to College: The AVID Way