Photo by Maria Matson/Whidbey News-Times.
                                Brandon Volkman, seventh- and eighth-grade teacher at Coupeville Middle School, assists students. A new program, Tutorial Time, is helping students to catch up in the classroom.

Photo by Maria Matson/Whidbey News-Times. Brandon Volkman, seventh- and eighth-grade teacher at Coupeville Middle School, assists students. A new program, Tutorial Time, is helping students to catch up in the classroom.

Program helps students at their pace

A new Coupeville program, Tutorial Time, is helping students catch up in the classroom.

It’s an early-morning program held on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It’s aim is to help students learn content that they have not yet mastered.

For about 40 minutes, students can retake tests, work with a teacher, complete group assignments or develop reading and math skills.

When students arrive at school, they are greeted by a TV screen that lists teachers, locations, student capacity, the subject or activity being taught and grade levels.

Students can choose any of the open activities available for their grade level, which can range from gym time to study hall.

Teachers can also mark certain activities as mandatory or require that individual students come to their activity for the day.

Teachers communicate with one another to determine which students may need additional support on specific skills.

“It is a great school-wide program that is having success and students and staff are enjoying,” Coupeville Superintendent Steve King said.

Teachers Alex McLean and Casie Greve helped implement the new program.

Losing “traditional” classroom time to make way for this program was not a concern, McLean said.

“Now that I have Tutorial Time set aside,” he said, “I feel I actually have more class time that I can use to target skills.”

“It’s kind of reshaping the way I think about teaching,” Greve said. “The general reception has been positive with parents and students.”

In the past, if a student needed to retake a test, they needed to stay after school and arrange transportation. The teacher stayed late as well.

Now there’s designated in-school time, Greve said. “That’s another benefit of this.”

Middle school counselor Cheyenne Beck said that Tutorial Time, while new to Coupeville, is not a new concept and similar programs are used across the nation.

“We want to meet kids where they’re at, knowing kids don’t always learn the same way,” she said.“We want to make sure nobody gets left behind. Just because you need help with some things, it’s not a bad thing.

Students are statistically busier than ever with after-school activities, so discussing an in-school program became necessary, she said.

“The kids seem to really like it,” Beck said.

For eighth-grade student Britnee Sorrows, her review of Tutorial Time is that it’s “OK, but not great. It’s not bad.”

Her main criticism is that she thinks it should be a full hour.

Seventh grader and ASB student president Logan Downes said that the program has helped him to get caught up.

“When students don’t grasp a concept, it can be difficult for that student to ever catch up. This system gives us two opportunities per week to reach out to those students in a timely manner so they don’t get left behind,” middle school Principal Geoff Kappes said in an email.

“Personally, I find it very rewarding to be able to look in at classrooms with a teacher and (see) eight to a dozen students who are getting the help they need immediately.”

The ultimate goal of the program is to “prevent students from having gaps in their learning that will affect them in the future,” he said. “I think Tutorial is a key component to that.”

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