Northview student volunteers provide tutoring virtually

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PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Every school district has a different approach right now to teaching, which has led to a lot of innovation — even for tutoring.

Northview High School is one of the schools running a hybrid learning model, with different “blocks” of students. About half the students go to class in person on Mondays and Tuesdays. The building is empty for deep cleaning on Wednesdays. The other half of the students have in-person classes on Thursdays and Fridays, except for virtual-only students.

That allows for smaller class sizes, social distancing and less contact. But it also creates a situation in which students only see their teachers, at most, twice a week.

Students in the National Honor Society have always volunteered their time to help classmates struggling with a particular subject by meeting after school. Like the traditional classwork, this model has had to change and go virtual.

“I think it’s really helped that we can still do something like that, it’s harder to learn when you’re only in class two days a week,” said Vivian Schmidt, a senior tutor. “So it’s nice to still have that backbone for students that do still need that help, especially in subjects like math that tend to be harder for people.”

She used to rely on her pencil and paper to take notes for other students but has embraced newer technology. She adjusts her tutoring style, relies on her iPad Pro and Apple Pencil to take digital notes, and record short videos explaining how to solve problems.

It’s not always easier to explain difficult concepts this way, but it has been more convenient.

“It’s easier in the fact that I can take my own time and that I don’t have to come at a specific time, especially since I’m in sports and school and have work,” Schmidt said.

Different tutors are using different platforms to help their classmates. Some rely on Zoom or Canvas. Schmidt uses FaceTime with students she knows better.

Her plan is to go to Kalamazoo College for a dual major of biology and psychology, with a concentration in neuroscience. She thinks the experience of going virtual this year will prepare her better for what lies ahead.

“I want to go into neuroscience research, so it’s something that uses a lot of technology. It’s going to be nice to have that already under my belt, taking notes with my iPad and understanding all of the platforms,” Schmidt said.

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