The computer screen blinked, and two voices came online, signaling the start of the virtual tutoring session. It would be geometry again today, freshman Pilar Hernandez told her tutor, senior Sindhu Rajan. Hernandez needed help with a question about angles. “All right, I’ll put on the whiteboard and then you can write it down for me,” Rajan said, clicking a button that would allow the two to write on a virtual board.
Painstakingly, Hernandez used her mouse to draw an isosceles triangle divided in half. The question asked for the value of x, half of the length of the triangle’s hypotenuse. “OK, this is how you would start,” Rajan said. Ten minutes later, after step-by-step guidance, Hernandez arrived at the answer. “Oh, OK, thank you!” she told Rajan. “I think I got it down.”
Rajan and Hernandez, students at North Canyon High School, are regular participants in the FROST peer-tutoring program in the Paradise Valley Unified School District. Through the program, National Honor Society students at the district’s five high schools host free tutoring sessions for other students in the district — entirely online. (FROST stands for Free Resources for Online Student Tutoring.)
Through the online portal, both Rajan and Hernandez can be at their homes while a teacher checks in periodically from a third computer. It’s a modernized approach to an age-old practice, peer tutoring, that experts say can strengthen student performance on several levels.
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