The Peer Enabled Restructured Classroom (PERC) is a powerful innovation in mathematics and science instruction that supports teachers, improves student performance, creates young leaders, and engages students deeply in learning.
PERC harnesses the proven success of collaborative learning strategies, making them the foundation of the classroom, rather than just a part-time approach. The result is a dynamic, student-centered environment in which…
Ninth Graders enrolled inmath (Integrated Algebra) and science (Living Environment) work together daily in small groups (four to five students)-solving problems, completing assignments and mastering required curriculum with the guidance of trained peer leaders. The students become comfortable with group work and peer instruction, and thrive under its benefits: Students in PERC classrooms find their questions answered more quickly, spend more time on task, and make more rapid progress through the curriculum. The group work is engaging, and many of the frustrations of a traditional classroom fall away. Students are successful; success breeds more interest and resilience in math and science.
"Thanks for all the work you helped me with, helping me understand things more clearly. Thanks for everything you did to help me become a better student, a better test taker, and also thank you for helping me become a better person. Hopefully I will see you next year when I become a Teaching Assistant Scholar!" - letter from student to their TA Scholar
Teaching Assistant Scholars act as peer leaders to facilitate learning in the classroom. A typical class will have several TA Scholars, each leading a group of four or five ninth graders in activities designed by the PERC teacher. TA Scholars are able to keep students engaged, provide immediate help, and guide the collaborative learning process. TA Scholars are usually tenth graders who finished Integrated Algebra or Living Environment the year before and passed the associated Regents exam with an average score. They receive specific, ongoing instruction in content and teaching methods from the PERC teacher, who also supervises their classroom work. In turn, they provide the teacher feedback on lessons and individual student progress. TA Scholars serve as role models for the students in class and in the school, gain satisfaction from helping others, and mature into student academic leaders bound for four-year college.
"It has been great experience being not just a teacher but also a co-learner of all the stuff that we were supposed to teach the students. It was huge experience as I learned about what it is like to be a teacher and how much immeasurable responsibility comes on your shoulder as soon as you step inside the classroom."- Teaching Assistant Scholar
The PERC Teacher oversees a classroom where most of the instruction is facilitated by TA Scholars working with small groups of students. PERC teachers have become experts in peer-led collaborative instruction. They empower their classrooms by creating effective group activities, and preparing the TA Scholars to lead their groups. A typical class will begin with ten minutes of whole-class instruction before group work begins on the day's assignment. The teacher is then free to move through the class, listen to group discussions, observe the work of the TA Scholars, speak directly with individual students, and provide assistance if it is needed. In this manner, the teacher can assesses the class and individual progress, and design the best strategies going forward. The teacher also receives feedback in the daily TA Scholar class, where participants share problems as well as successes. PERC teachers develop lesson plans for the TA Scholar class that include PERC class content, advanced (enrichment) material, instructional strategies and techniques, and college-preparedness skills. By teaching about teaching, they sharpen their own skills and gain new perspectives on their vocation. The PERC teacher is usually scheduled with four PERC classes and one TA Scholar class.
"My favorite lessons are the ones where the tutors just run the whole show. I really planned well and prepped the tutors ahead of time. They take over and I watch the learning happen."