I’ve shared a fair amount about how we dramatically ramped-up the number and use of peer tutors in my ELL classes this year (see Are Schools Overlooking An Obvious Strategy They Can Implement Immediately To Accelerate Learning? Peer Tutors! and The Best Resources To Help Prepare Tutors & Volunteers In ELL Classes – And, Boy, Do I Need Suggestions!).
Soon, I’ll be sharing more end-of-year reflections about what went well with the program this year and what changes I plan to make next year.
This post, however, is going to focus on one particular addition I plan to implement – having peer tutors do more writing of instructional materials.
In practical terms, tutors generally are working directly with students about fifty percent of the time. I’m doing full-class instruction, or students are doing work on their own, during the other half of the class. Now, when they’re not working with the ELL students, peer tutors are either on their phones, chatting with each other, or sometimes doing work from other classes. Even when there are students who need 100% one-on-one instruction, they take turns doing it.
And I don’t begrudge them those activities – they all work hard when they’re needed, and I know they wouldn’t mind doing peer tutor work much more than fifty percent of the time if there was work for them to do.
And, prompted by an idea from my talented colleague Katherine Bell, I figured out what work they could do when not directly tutoring ELL students.
And, as I mentioned earlier, it could be doing more writing – for an authentic audience of ELL students.
This could include:
- Writing dialogue journals (basically, pen pals). I’ve had my ELL students do this with other classes of English-proficient students, and there is no reason they couldn’t do the same with peer tutors. Coincidently, Tan Huynh just wrote about doing dialogue journals.
- Creating personalized dialogues related to the themes we’re studying, which ELLs would act-out. Some of the dialogues could have “multiple-choice” lines for ELLs to choose.
- Writing personalized “strip stories.”
- Creating personalized “jigsaws.”
- Helping students create personalized TPR “stories.”
- Making online games on Quizizz and Blooklet.
- Watch video “walkthroughs” of online video games not blocked by District filters and write them. See here for more info.
In addition, I’ve had the peer tutors complete simple Google Forms reflections, but next year they could spend more time thinking and writing about:
* How they spent their time
* What worked and what didn’t work and why
* What they could do better and what they want to try
I’d love to hear other ideas about materials the peer tutors could create.
Obviously, I would need to do some training and provide models, but I think this idea has potential.