Mechanics of Small Group Online Math Tutoring

The mechanics of small group online math tutoring are simple: each of the students in the online math tutoring group will have access to the main Ziteboard. Theyíll also have individual boards, but weíll focus on the group Ziteboard for now.

Group Ziteboard

Here the students will post questions and work on them. Basically, itíd appear as below. 

We post a screenshot (if the questions are online) or a cellphone pic (if from a textbook) on the board. Then, each student will work it out in their own space, in their own color. When the students complete their work, they can ask questions.

Naturally, there might be some questions that Iíll work through completely if itís a topic the students might be completely unfamiliar with. That will serve as a template the students can follow.

Also, as a student works through a math question, they can ask a question as to what the next step ought to be or whether theyíre working it out correctly. This is encouraged. The beauty is that the other students can mute their speakers while working so as not to be distracted.

What is Most Important with Small Group Tutoring?

The studentsí comfort asking questions is most important. So, if a student doesnít feel comfortable with being seen, we can arrange it so that only their voice is heard and their countenance isnít seen.

The studentís work is next most important. Even if a student is struggling mightily with the material, theyíre likely completing 60-80% of the work correctly. Often, itís just a mistake in one step or ignorance of how to proceed at a certain point, sometimes the beginning, thatís causing all the problems. 

Usually, students are not as lost as they think. And itís often not hopeless. Just so long as they ask for the help that they need before it snowballs, theyíre fine.

Posting questions before and after sessions

Students can make their session most effective by posting their questions on their board immediately before their session. That way, we can focus on what is most important. That is the best way. You want the mechanics of small group online math tutoring to be easy. And so it is.

The most important or most difficult question might vary per student, but thatís ok. That allows me to help the group first, on the questions that they all have in common. Then, as the other student is working on one problem or set of problems on their own, I can walk the other student through their questions.

We will set a time, say, 1-3 minutes, for when to regroup. That makes it easy. And safe for students to ask questions.

Setting Individual Sessions

Students part of a small online tutoring group can naturally schedule individual sessions on their own. Since weíve likely covered some, if not all, of their pressing math questions in the group session, they can probably do fine with just a 30-minute individual session here and there to address any little details that need attention.

What do you do next?

Feel free to contact me for more details about the mechanics of small group online math tutoring. Your student will do best with classmates taking the same class from the same teacher. Itís ok if theyíre taking it at different periods. Having the same teacher and the same class makes it easy as theyíll be covering the same material.

While itís ok to have students in the same subject, say algebra, the pace of different teachers along with their homework question focus can vary. In that case, itís better for separate sessions.

Group sessions work best when itís students with the same subject and the same teacher. If itís the same subject, it can still work if itís from the same school.

Examples of Small Group Online Math Tutoring

For example, letís say your student is taking algebra 1 from Mr. Patel first period at Edison High School. Her friend is taking algebra 1 at Edison, too, but from a different teacher. This might be a good fit, but weíd want to try it for a few sessions to see if theyíre covering the same material at the same time.

In another example, your student is taking algebra 1 at Huntington Beach High School, but his friend is taking algebra 1 at Sage Hill. In this case, itís unlikely theyíre covering the same material at the same time. Individual sessions would be better in this case.

In this last example, letís say your student is taking algebra 1 from Mr. Patel at Edison High School at first period. Their friend is taking the same class with Mr. Patel, but 3rd period. 

This would be a good fit for small group tutoring. They have the same teacher, same subject, and are covering the same material at the same time. This would work well for small group online math tutoring

Final Notes

You can a tech check session for free to check your hardware for small group online math tutoring. 

Then, if you have questions, you can ask. Feel free to contact me.


By Martin

Martin McSweeney is a National Merit Finalist, Pomona College Graduate, and member of MENSA. He has worked at the Center for Talented Youth (Loyola Marymount University campus); Upward Bound (Harvey Mudd campus); various test prep companies; and Whittier High School. Now, Martin helps students of all abilities improve their relationship with math.