OUR HERO'S JOURNEY

For the past 18 years we have focused on the mechanics of how to improve foundational reading and math skills because strong foundational skills are the most important asset a child can have and are the keys to unlocking all other knowledge.  In that time, we created a blended learning system for building foundational reading and math skills based on deliberate practice. Now schools have fewer resources available for intervention and enrichment programs.  At the same time, low performing students face greater demands as the need to have skills and to rapidly adapt to technological change has increased. Students who are behind not only have to catch up, but they must accelerate their learning. For struggling middle school students who don’t have strong foundational skills, the problem is especially dire. 

Three years ago, we confronted this reality of higher demands and fewer resources by sitting down and looking critically at the needs of our families and schools and the services we were providing. Students need to continuously learn outside of the school day or the afterschool tutoring session. Our system of developing foundational reading and math skills was built after iteratively improving it each year and it was very powerful.  But we saw that we could be even more powerful with the motivation piece, a critical part of deliberate practice. We asked ourselves, how can we create transformational learning experiences that inspire students to seek learning opportunities after their journey with us ends? The stakes couldn’t be higher. Middle school students who lack foundational skills need an extraordinary amount of grit to acquire the skills they need as they face current classroom realities. 

California is Not Alone in Facing this Youth Education Crisis
 

  • In our public schools according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress more than six in 10 fourth graders aren’t proficient readers. A third of kids can’t read at a basic level.
     

  • Every year, over 1.2 million students drop out of high school in the United States alone. That’s a student every 26 seconds – or 7,000 a day.
     

  • About 25% of high school freshmen fail to graduate from high school on time.
     

  • A high school dropout will earn $200,000 less than a high school graduate over his lifetime. And almost a million dollars less than a college graduate.

There is a movement across schools today to build a growth mindset, the ability to persevere despite setbacks.  How could we incorporate the nurturing of grit or a growth mindset into the fabric of our programs?  We decided to focus on the Hero’s Journey and the stories of our students and families because the Hero’s Journey by its very nature celebrates a growth mindset. The hero imbues a growth mindset, even if the hero is not conscious of doing so.  Given the power of story and the power of our students’ and families’ stories, we started designing our programs to include the stages of the Hero’s Journey and the exploration of these stages as the students are building their skills. Though we faced several tests and trails, we were able to incorporate the hero’s journey in our programs in an integrative way. 


Our Video Game Design and Manga Writing Program is the culmination of these efforts. In this program, we focus on the Hero’s Journey and challenged the students to create a journey of their own. Students build their foundational math skills, as they create a video game and write an original novella based on the Hero’s Journey. They use industry standard digital tools to build their games and create their artwork. 

VIDEO GAME DESIGN & MANGA WRITING PROGRAM

Our Video Game Design and Manga Writing Program is the culmination of these efforts. In this program, we focus on the Hero’s Journey and challenged the students to create a journey of their own. Students build their foundational math skills, as they create a video game and write an original novella based on the Hero’s Journey. They use industry standard digital tools to build their games and create their artwork. 

Last year students at Solano Middle School created a video game with a narrative and also created a story and artwork based on the stages of the Hero’s Journey. The outcomes of this program were outstanding. The middle school participants mastered foundational math skills in 16% of the time of the previous year.  In additional, these low performing students improved their attitude about writing by 65%. Thirty-five percent of parents noticed this change at home.

Students write novellas based on the Hero’s Journey and learn the fundamentals of manga art.
Students present their final video-game projects to families and judges at an exhibition.

JOIN US

We are now trying to make this experience available to more young people because we believe that experiences like this can transform lives. We need your help. We need donations to bring this experience to six middle schools in the Bay Area who don’t have the funds for the program. We also need industry volunteers for our shop talks (where you share your own hero’s journey with our students) and as judges in our exhibition at the conclusion of the program. A typical coding camp costs $500 - $800 a week or more for middle school students. Our program delivers a quality coding experience and so much more. It cost $1400 a student for the one-month program. 

We have provided targeted, motivational and data rich academic support programs to more than 25,000 students, including motivational coding classes for underserved students. We believe that struggling students can blossom when they have an opportunity to build coding skills in the context of a larger goal and when they are simultaneously given the opportunity to build their foundational math skills. Join us in providing an immersive and positive academic experience that can tangibly improve skills and fundamentally change student’s school experience and academic trajectory. 

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Mastery Learning is an instructional strategy, formally proposed by Benjamin S. Bloom, which maintains that students must achieve a level of mastery before moving forward to another subject area. If students do not achieve mastery, they are given additional support in learning the information, until mastery has been accomplished. TUTORWORKS programs follow the methods of Mastery Learning and believe that through alternative supports and adaptive learning, every student can achieve mastery!

700 Airport Blvd., Ste. 450

Burlingame, CA 94010

info@tutorworks.org

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