A Different Approach to Reading Buddies

In the past I have always partnered up my students with another class and once a week we did “reading buddies”. Students would read with their buddy and it was wonderful.

However, this year I wanted to put all the decision making in the hands of my students and I realized that if I organized reading buddies with another class I was making that decision for them.

So I took a different approach this year…

First, I emailed all of our Pre-K, KG1, KG2 and Grade 1 teachers to who would be interested in having a Grade 4 reading buddy come read with their students. I had about 2-3 teachers from each grade level sign up.

Then, I shared my vision with my students and offered an optional meeting for those students who were interested in being reading buddies this year. About 3/4 of my students attended.

At that point I asked my students which grade they would be most interested working with and matched them up with a teacher. Then I provided each student with their reading buddy teacher’s email address. The students did an amazing job consulting our schedule in order to send an email with possible dates and times.

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Students were clear about how many times they would be willing to come each week. Some students chose once a week, others chose every day. Then they sent of their emails and excitedly waited for a response!

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Once students heard back from the teachers they solidified dates and times. Students have independantly kept track of their scheduled dates and times and done a wonderful job emailing the teacher if a conflict comes up and they are unable to make it.

Now reading buddies is up and running and it has been awesome so far! Sometimes they read to one or two students, sometimes they listen to a younger student reading to them and sometimes they read to the whole class!

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Here are my reflections on this process so far:

  • emailing the teachers provided an amazing authentic opportunity for functional writing
  • students are practicing their fluency and expression when reading to their buddies
  • students are developing their confidence as readers
  •  students are developing empathy and compassion by working with younger children
  • students are developing the organization and time management skills by making and keeping scheduled appointments
  • students are loving every minute of it!

I look forward to watching this progress grow and change as the year unfolds. I’m hoping word will spread and more Grade 4 students will want to become reading buddies and more early year’s teachers will want to host Grade 4 reading buddies!

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4 thoughts on “A Different Approach to Reading Buddies

  1. Oh, my goodness. Asking them if they WANT to be reading buddies. Once again, you’re making me wonder why I never thought of that, Taryn! Sounds so wonderful. One question: how do your students keep track of their daily schedules with all this choice? And how do you keep track of where they are with their varied buddy reading times? Also, do you feel like younger students would be able to manage this degree of freedom and responsibility?

    Thanks as always!
    Mary

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    1. Thanks Mary. It has been greats far! My students currently write their own day plans (blog post coming soon about this!) So they are responsible for blocking out reading buddies and not double-booking themselves. I have a master list of everyone’s schedule, so for the first few weeks, when they were writing their day plans, I would have my list and double check that they were remembering to go. But no need! They were on top of it! They are also responsible for communicating with their teacher if a conflict comes up (like a field trip or assembly) which they have been on top of two! As far of keeping track of where everyone is, I have a space on our whiteboard where students can write their name if they are at buddies, or the library etc. As far as this system with younger students, I’m not sure. I bet it would be possible, just with a little more support from the teacher with organization, time management and reminders of who needs to go when. 🙂

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