This strategy will help you build a visual and a system to create a network of student tutors available to support other students with a particular standard/skill once they have reached mastery of this same standard/skill and if they applied to be one of these mastery tutors.
In a mastery-based learning system, students master skills or standards at different paces, and are not constrained to be in the same unit or lesson at the same time as each other. This creates many new opportunities, and this strategy will help to harness the power of having students in the same room at different levels of mastery of different standards, and create a student centered support system able to adapt to the needs of a diverse group of learners.
Determine how students can move their post it toward the mastery zone. Consider the following elements:
How can students elect to be assessed for mastery at their own pace in a given standard they have not mastered yet? (One strategy to check out for this is Battling the Boss.)
When can students update their status on the mastery map (specific time of the class, anytime, etc…)?
Students who gain mastery of a topic can take on a larger "teaching" role within a classroom, through a process that insures both that the "master" student isn't prevented from moving forward in their own learning and that their teaching is guided to be an effective learning tool.
Write a script and make copies so that each student tutor has one copy for each topic and each student they help. See an example of a Master Tutor script in the resources below.
Set up tutoring groups. As shown in the Master Tutor Partner Setup example in the resources below, highlighters are used to identify students who were not proficient in a particular topic. These students are paired with another student who could act as a tutor expert. See tips for success below.
If this is the first time implementing this strategy, it is critical to add the following steps:
Set the purpose as inclusive, and democratic; celebratory of all students because the tutoring role is accessible to all students. Reiterate the difference between a classroom of "ones" and a community.
Model the script. Try to expand, as you are modeling, to make it interactive. To do this have some students in mind who can begin to take on the voice of the mastery tutor.
Have resources ready. For example, printouts of the assessment results, the original assessment, relearning activities and new assessments. These can be provided as paper copies or by using an application like Blendspace. See an example of a Blendspace resource in the Controlled Experiments: Identifying Parts of an Experiment resource below:
Set up the room where students have dedicated space to spread out their resources. Maintaining a quiet work environment contributes directly to the efficacy of the Master Tutor Project, so help students to work quietly. A quiet environment can be helped by the way tutoring groups are set up in Step 3 above.
In a distance learning, self-paced or mastery based learning environment, building a mastery map and a network of student experts can help all students.
Create a digital mastery map of all the skills or standards you expect students to master in a given unit or the whole year. Consider using a Google spreadsheet or document and enabling students to view and comment.
Determine how students will be able to demonstrate mastery on each skill or standard. For example, students might complete an online playlist using Deck.Toys, Problem.Attic, Sutori, or Gooru. Students could also post on a Padlet, FlipGrid, or on your learning management system, such as SeeSaw. Other tools such as Socractive or GoFormative allow for students to demonstrate mastery. Consult the Better Lesson strategies Systems of Assessment and Battling the Boss for more ideas.
When students have demonstrated mastery on a specific skill or standard, give them the opportunity to apply to become a standard-based peer tutor. Invite them to complete an online peer tutor application through Google Forms. Another option would be to interview interested peer tutors in a 1:1 video session.
On your original digital mastery map, display tutor's names next to their standard or skill.
Ensure that all students know that they can reach out to the peer tutors for support as they work on mastery of a specific skill or standard.
Determine how students will sign up for access to a peer tutor. They could comment at the peer tutor on the Google Spreadsheet, email the tutor directly, chat the tutor during a live synchronous session, or message the tutor via text, WhatsApp, or MarcoPolo. Consider modeling how to do this for students by creating a screencast with Screencastify or Loom.
Alternatively, if all work is displayed in a public space (such as a Padlet, FlipGrid, or posted publicly on Google Classroom or SeeSaw), tutors could be responsible for providing feedback to other students before they reach out for support.
Have students engage in either synchronous or asynchronous tutoring.
For synchronous tutoring, peer tutors could offer to host their own small group sessions on a video platform, host 1:1 support with the student, or message the student directly through text, WhatsApp video call, or MarcoPolo.
For asynchronous tutoring, tutors could create videos using Whiteboard.fi and Screencastify. Tutors can then share these videos with the students requesting support, or respond to emails or messages.
Consider having students reflect on how peer tutoring supported them to overcome their challenge and demonstrate mastery. To do this, consider a Google form reflection, a Padlet, or a FlipGrid. Also consider reflecting with peer tutors about what they have learned from supporting other learners. You may choose to create a small group synchronous video session with the tutors to do this.
Using a mastery map to build a system to create a network of student tutors is an excellent way not only to help students with disabilities keep track of their own mastery, but build their capacity to teach and learn from their peers.
Successful use of a mastery map and peer tutoring system requires teachers planning for the variety of skills required of students: emotional regulation, significant executive functioning skills (task initiation, prioritization, working memory, etc.), written expression skills, reading skills and verbal expression skills. In order to support students with disabilities who have difficulty in these areas consider the following modifications:
Teachers should think carefully about the approach of quality over quantity when helping students with disabilities track their mastery. Special emphasis for all students could be put on mastery of the highest leverage skills in a unit. Visual mastery maps could also display a smaller set of skills (i.e. weekly goals) for students with disabilities that affect their emotional regulation (i.e. anxiety).
If multiple teachers are present in a setting, consider having one teacher work in a small group of students with more intensive disabilities to help provide more targeted guidance on when and how to deploy mastery maps and peer tutoring.
English learners benefit from being developed as tutors by practicing authentic academic English language skills with peers and gaining confidence. English learners receiving support benefit from developing questions and peer interaction. Using this strategy gives teachers an opportunity to guide English learners in sharing their expertise with others through important academic skills like asking questions, explaining topics, and presenting materials.
English learners participating in this strategy are required to read and write in order to apply for tutor status or to request tutor support. English learners engaged in tutoring need to listen and respond to peers. In order to support English Learners consider the following modifications:
One important thing to decide will be if you want students in need of a tutor to be able to select a specific tutor or not. If the answer to this question is no, then student tutors in a specific standard will have to pay attention to the signal you have decided to use for students to ask for help in a specific standard.
If every student has access at all times to a device, you could consider using a tech tool for students to submit a request for help instead of post-its or colored cups. The questions to ask yourself then become:
Why would this be better for you?
Is it worth the trouble then?
If it is, would you be the one centralizing the messages asking for help and assigning student tutors to help or would you like your students to have direct access to this backchannel?
If you want your students to run this backchannel themselves, you will have to think about the potential issues arising there so that you could anticipate them.
Any topic works for student mastery tutors, but students acting as tutors have better success on skills and/or concepts that rely less on difficult conceptual understanding. With practice throughout the year, students gain confidence in their teaching skills and can be reliable tutors of concepts of increasing complexity.
When setting up groups account for personality type, friendships, learning style, level of perseverance, gender and level of teaching/learning aptitude. This sounds complicated, but it only took about 10 minutes per class to develop the tutoring groups.
Maintaining a quiet work environment contributes directly to the efficacy of the Master Tutor Project, so help students to work quietly.
Check out my "Mastery Learning in Science: Students as Teachers" lesson included in the resources below to see how I structures mastery tutoring.