Developing and Maintaining a Secondary Peer to Peer Program

The information and resources below are designed to assist school personnel in developing and maintaining a secondary Peer to Peer program. The examples and templates below are intended to give you ideas and a starting point. You should update them to reflect your district's program and needs. Many of these materials may not be necessary for the development of your program and depending on your district or building you may need to add additional materials. These resources are intended to give you a starting point in the development of your Peer to Peer support program. The Secondary Peer to Peer Program Playbook contains all of the below information and resources in one document.

In addition, the Peer to Peer Course provides access to a quality, engaging, and age-appropriate content for Peer to Peer high school courses. This curriculum includes content, lesson plans, assignments, and grading criteria in alignment with Michigan’s Department of Education Pupil Accounting Manual requirements.


Secondary Peer to Peer Program

Administration Permission

Pupil Accounting

Establish a Team, Leaders, and Teacher of Record

  • Establish a team to assist in guiding the development of the LINK Program. Plan to meet once a week during the development of the program and monthly or quarterly thereafter.
  • Designate one to two team members (e.g. Team Leaders) who will have primary responsibility for overseeing the implementation of the LINK Program. These individuals could be teachers, social workers, guidance counselors, school psychologists, teacher consultants, etc. These individuals will be responsible for overseeing the implementation of program requirements such as student recruitment, training, scheduling of LINKS, case conferences, and fundraising activities, etc. These tasks may be delegated to others, but the Team Leaders are responsible to assure the tasks are completed. 
  • Designate “teacher of record” for the LINK class. This person is responsible for creation of the syllabus, daily attendance, assessment of LINK students through formative and summative content and performance measures (such as journals, papers, portfolios, teacher observation, quizzes or tests), and grading.

Peer to Peer as an Elective Class Proposal

  • Utilize the “Peer to Peer as an Elective Class Proposal Document” to Assure Steps are not missed when getting approval from the district curriculum council/Board of Education for Class Accreditation. Required at the Secondary Level.

Brochure

  • Develop a brochure describing the Peer to Peer support program. This brochure must include: the purpose of the Peer to Peer support program, the special or general education staff in charge of the Peer to Peer support program with contact information, and benefits for the general education students.

Peer to Peer Recruitment Presentation

Peer to Peer Program Permission Slip

Other Recruitment Ideas

Set Up and Scheduling Considerations

  • Determine how many LINK students are needed to support the identified students with ASD for the semester/trimester. For example, if you have 10 students with ASD and you want two LINKs with each of the students with ASD each hour of the day (e.g. 5 periods), then multiply 2 x 5 x 10 which equals 100 students to recruit.
  • Match students according to schedules. It is helpful to have a school counselor involved in the scheduling. Data suggest that LINKs are most effective if they are the same age or older than the student with ASD. LINKS should not be younger.

Building to Building Passes

  • Create building to building passes for LINK students at the high or middle school who are supporting students with IEP’s at the elementary level. Building to building passes are required and provide integrity to the program. Consider using a three ring binder or putting the passes into a booklet format so students can create a log of when they go back and forth between buildings. 

Teacher Evaluation of LINKs

  • Teacher evaluation forms are for if the LINK Student is attending a class with the student with an IEP that is not taught by the teacher of record. The teacher evaluation of the LINK must be completed by the teacher who spends the majority of time with the LINK.

A foundation of the LINK Program includes a triangular exchange of communication between the LINK student, student with ASD, and the medium of exchange.

The medium of exchange is critical because it provides a neutral focus between the student with ASD and the LINK student. Often, students with ASD do not understand the social workings involved in interaction with others. The medium of exchange eliminates the awkwardness of the interaction. The purpose of the interaction is clear. The medium of exchange demystifies the ASD allowing the two students to remain engaged with each other while interacting.

The medium of exchange works differently for each student with ASD. The medium is based upon the student’s strengths, challenges, and the impact of the ASD. It is important to remember you are always working off a three pronged approach with every student and the environment must be organized. There must be a purpose to the activities that are occurring and to what the students are expected to accomplish.

There is an expectation that these activities are going to be a cooperative venture in order to accomplish the goals of everyone involved. This is a philosophical departure from traditional programs for students with ASD, which function under a top-down teacher to student responsibility. The major difference is that a cooperative venture communicates a sense of responsibility among the LINK students as they interact with the student with ASD, not only accomplishing specific tasks, but also a generalizing social interactions beyond the classroom.

The primary medium of exchange is the general education curriculum since both populations of students have access to the general education curriculum. To ensure the student with ASD engages in the general education curriculum, the general education curriculum will be differentiated.

The purpose of training is to begin the process of helping students understand the expectations of the class and of the expectations of being a LINK. This can be captured through videos, PowerPoints, or other training tools. Often, training is completed in the summer, orientation, or during the first week of school.

The purpose of the Curriculum is to provide comprehensive and engaging content about ASD and other disabilities. The Peer to Peer students will:

  1. Increase their knowledge about a variety of disabilities through direct instruction.
  2. Gain an understanding of people with disabilities through supporting them and building relationships.
  3. Develop and increase problem-solving, communication, and leadership skills.
  4. Gain a greater acceptance for those who are different.

The curriculum can be provided through direct teaching, online, or hybrid through the use of the “START P2P Curriculum" or Autism Internet Modules (AIM).

Case Conference Schedule

  • The purpose of case conferences is to allow the LINK student access to other LINK students supporting a student with ASD. Case conferences are meetings of all the LINK students that are supporting the same student with ASD to discuss student progress and problem solve areas of concerns using the Meeting Mechanics Process. Case conferences may or may not include the student with ASD.
  • Establish a case conference schedule for each student with ASD. Schedule these meetings at the beginning of the semester and hold them every 3-4 weeks or more frequently if needed. A general agenda for case conferences includes:
    1. Positive experiences with the student with ASD.
    2. Concerns about the student with ASD.
    3. Brainstorm ideas to address concern areas.
  • Case conferences can be held before or after school, during lunch hour (e.g. provide pizza, McDonald’s etc. to create an engaging, relaxing environment) or during other class periods. Develop and obtain a permission slip from the missing class teacher if a LINK student will be missing class for the case conference. 

Case Conference Permission

Case Conference Reminder

  • LINK students are kids. Students will need reminders to increase participation

Case Conference Information Sheets

Case Conference Passes

  • Hall passes are required if the LINK student will be leaving from the general education class or will be in the hallway during class time. 

Case Conference Note-Taking Forms

  • Case conference note-taking forms are completed at each case conference. The information that is discussed and written on the board is transferred to the note-taking forms. These forms are then shared with the parent(s) and/ or guardian(s). An action plan is completed at the end of each case conference.

Using Case Conferences to Organize Support for Upcoming School Events

  • Case conferences can be used to organize supports for students with ASD at upcoming school events. For example, during the senior year, there are many events planned. Each student at the case conference is responsible for notifying the family of upcoming events so the student with ASD may participate. It is not the LINK student’s responsibility to attend the event with the student with ASD. The LINK student’s responsibility is to keep the family informed of upcoming events.

Syllabus Components

  • A syllabus is required for any secondary program. The syllabus must include: professional staff supporting the peer to peer support program, course description, attendance, grading, materials needed, and course components including: what the LINK Student learn, case conferences, curriculum and participation. Some districts also include a LINK student contract.

LINK Contract

Journal

Blog

  • Some districts have the LINK students write a blog about their experiences in program especially about individual student engagement and classroom interaction. Add this to the grading rubric in the syllabus.

Final Exam

  • There is built in grading system in the START endorsed training curriculum for LINKs. However, some districts choose to have a different final exam at the end of the semester. Add this to the grading rubric in the syllabus.

Final Project

  • Some districts have opted to have the LINK students complete a final project. The final project should reflect what they LINK student has learned about themselves while being a LINK. Some final project examples include: posters, photography, poetry, PowerPoint presentation, video, etc. Add this to the grading rubric in the syllabus. 

Write a description of the Peer to Peer support program and include it in the building course catalog. Course catalogs are used to describe classes for students.

LINK of the Week 

LINK Room

  • Designate a LINK room in the building that is identified with the LINK program and available all day. This room is a safe-haven for students with ASD, a training site for LINKS, and a great place for LINKS and their peers with ASD to interact.

Schedule a Banquet

  • Schedule an end of the year banquet for all LINK students, the students with ASD, and their families. Create a basic celebration invitation to be shared the students and their families.

Certificate of Participation/Appreciation for LINK Students

Paper Plate Awards

  • Create and provide a paper plate award for all LINK students and students with ASD in the program. These awards can recount the year’s most memorable events with the students. During the year, keep a log of the most memorable events for each student to create the paper plate awards at the end of the year. •
  • Paper plate awards are exactly that, paper plates that are decorated and made into an award. The paper plate award usually reflects something humorous, exciting, noteworthy, etc. that has happened throughout the semester or school year.

T-Shirts

  • Design & create a LINK T-Shirt for all participants in the program. Encourage investment in the program by having a contest for students to design the T-shirt and have the program participants or the entire student body vote on the winning T-shirt design. Print the winning design on the T-Shirts and distribute to both students with ASD and the LINK students at the banquet.

Media Kit

  • Use the Peer to Peer Media Kit to disseminate information on your Peer to Peer program to the public. This Media Kit contains templates and instructions. Always consult with your communications department before contacting the media or posting anything online.

Blue Graduation Cords

  • It is critical to collect data on the importance of the Peer to Peer support program. There are four components to the Peer to Peer data collection process: program demographics, student data, surveys, and the end of the year fidelity checklist. Ideally, all four data sets would be collected, however it is mandatory to collect the program demographics and the fidelity checklist data.

Ordering Secondary Peer to Peer Program Playbooks

Secondary Peer to Peer Program Playbooks are available for $13/each + the cost of shipping. Orders can be placed online through Allegra Printing. Instructions for ordering are available here