Paper: a Free and Simple Tutoring Service For the Pandemic

  • November 9, 2020
The service was added to the available student resources this year to help struggling students

This year, the school district has made a tutoring service freely available to all LCHS students. It’s called Paper, and it’s accessible through the LCUSD Classlink. Paper is a chat-based tutoring service that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service normally would cost for anyone who wanted to use it, but the LCUSD school district has decided to pay for it so any student can have free access.

Elise Trocker, an 11th grade student, said, “I used it for math and I thought it was really helpful. They don’t just give you the answer but walk you through the ways to think about the concepts and how to approach it.” 

In order to further understand the Paper Tutoring Service and how it works, I tried it myself. I found the essay submission part of the website to be especially helpful. When you go to the website, there is a button you can click that takes you to the page for turning in your essay. These essays don’t just have to be for English- they can be for any class, like History. Once you upload a pdf of your document, you can write the essay title and a brief summary of your teacher’s instructions (like what the prompt for the essay was). Then, you click “Review My Essay”, and a professional tutor will review and add their suggestions within 24 hours. These tutors are typically college students or graduates who are interested in earning a teaching degree. They are trained to assess how much help students need and in what areas this help is needed so that they can appropriately ensure the student understands the problem. When they finish, you’ll get an email. The comments they provide were actually very useful for me, and I could tell that the tutor knew what he was talking about. The tutor wrote a note that provided a general overview of my strengths and weaknesses, and then, when I opened the pdf, there were individual sections that were highlighted where he told me what I could do to improve it. 

Ayla Nappi, a 12th grader echoed this positive sentiment. “I really like the service! I’ve gotten really good feedback on my essays that I uploaded and the tutors are super chill.”

The one-on-one tutoring with individual questions was simpler and quicker. All you have to do is select a specific class and you’ll be put in touch with a tutor that specializes in that subject. I typed in my question and waited a few minutes for the tutor, and when he arrived, he helped walk me through the process, which I liked. Instead of just giving me the answer, he helped me understand it. For this format, it seems that it is better for more straightforward questions with specific right answers, like (for example) questions asked on a worksheet. 

Overall, the Paper Tutoring Service had a very constructive feeling to it- they weren’t there to tell me what to do, they were there to provide a second opinion and to help me enhance my knowledge and thinking skills. 

A 9th grader who wishes to remain anonymous agreed when it came to their essay correction service, stating that “they are good at checking essays, as long as you get them in 24 hours before they are due”.

Recently, LCHS Principal James Cartnal talked to The Spartan about the service and why he thought it was important. 

“Its purpose is to provide additional academic support to students beyond the office hours that work each day,” he said. “The pandemic and physical school closures have disrupted the normal functioning of school, the ability to work easily with peers in study groups, go to teachers for help across the day, and this service being available 24/7 helps with this.”

Mr. Cartnal also mentioned that, in addition to being available to students 24/7, it is available “for nearly all subjects, and they can also tutor in multiple languages: Spanish, Mandarin, and English.”

“It has been successful so far with student usage increasing by the week,” he continued. “Whether this continues in the future will depend on… a needs assessment, whether we determine if it achieved its goals, and [how much it] was used by students.”

Mr. Cartnal wanted students to know that this isn’t the only aid the school provides for students who may be struggling during distance learning. 

“We have put in place several important supports that we want all students to know about. We included this in a flyer that we hope everyone looked at when they opened the report card,” he stated. “We also want students to use these supports to bridge any gaps of contact with the ‘normal’ routines of school.” 

Ali Shirazi, an 11th grader, summed up the service as a whole. “It was unbelievably convenient to the point where I thought there was a catch.”

Other supports offered by the school besides Paper include the Virtual Wellness Center (a website with methods to relieve stress and anxiety), the Peer Support program (a group of trained students who give their peers someone to talk to confidentially), and the Peer Tutoring program (a program that differs from Paper in that it provides face-to-face tutoring from other students). These supports and more can be seen on this flyer. Mr. Cartnal encouraged students to look over each of these sources, because Paper is just one of the many ways that our school is trying to help students in these trying times.

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