Socratic tutor

Socratic tutor David Sneed helps a student solve a math problem during Advancement Via Individual Determination tutoring at Copperas Cove High School. The free program prepares students who are struggling academically for college.

COPPERAS COVE — Copperas Cove High School senior David Sneed doesn’t speak as he stands tall in his Junior ROTC dress blues.

He quietly observes the work of the student in front of him as she works through the steps, searching for the solution to a complex math problem on the school smart board. As the student looks to Sneed for guidance, he gently points to one of the steps and asks her to recheck her work.

Her eyes widen and she sees the mistake. Sneed has helped the student teach herself how to solve the problem. He was simply the conduit to finding the answer.

Sneed is an AVID tutor using the Socratic method to ensure his peers who are struggling academically are college ready. AVID, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a Department of Defense Education Activity program designed to help students develop the skills they need to be successful in college. The program places special emphasis on growing writing, critical thinking, teamwork, organization and reading skills, said Lacy Freeman, DoDEA Grant Director at Copperas Cove High School.

“AVID’s mission is to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society,” Freeman said. “AVID is a nationally-recognized college preparatory program that is offered in grades kindergarten through college. It is currently available to 9th-10th graders at CCHS this year and will be offered for 9th-11th grades next year.”

AVID provides assistance to students through elective classes that teach organizational skills through WICOR (Writing, Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization, Reading) strategies, goal setting, how to take effective notes, studying for long-term recall and SAT/ACT study preparation.

“AVID walks students through each step of the college application process, including applying for scholarships and grants,” Freeman said. “AVID also offers college and career exploration through field trips, guest speakers and online research.”

Tutors like Sneed, 18, who has a 4.1 GPA and is ranked in the top 10 percent of his class, are trained in the Socratic method of tutoring to guide students to deeper understanding through questioning. Students are taught to analyze exactly where meaning breaks down so they may receive targeted help. Tutors also help students move through Costa’s Levels of Thinking.

“Some students can be confused on the steps of the problem, but they know what they are doing,” Sneed said. “They just have to analyze where the breakdown is and what they are doing wrong. Then, they can successfully move forward.”

Freeman said Sneed is not paid but does earn volunteer hours.

“These students were selected because they represent the best of the best and are in the top of their class, have proven themselves through maintaining high GPAs in advanced and dual-credit classes, were nominated by their teachers as having excellent work ethics, and have a desire to help others be academically successful,” Freeman said. “Socratic tutors take their own time to look over the material that they will assist students with the next day. Many Socratic tutors are able to give students tips and helpful reminders that they used to master the topics. Tutors earn nationally-recognized certification as an AVID tutor through workshops they attend on Saturdays. Many colleges now have AVID programs. Socratic tutors are able to earn money through tutoring while attending college.”

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