This is our second year working together as reading buddies. It works out pretty well since I teach 5th grade and Melody teaches 2nd grade. Last year, for the first reading buddy activity, we had our students fill out Venn diagrams of their similarities and differences.
This year, we we wanted to try something different and incorporate our new IPADs. We had the students use the photo booth on the IPADs to take photos with their reading buddy. They had to take different photos, using each of the photo settings. We told them that both of them had to be in the photo. The students had a great time taking photos with each other. The second activity we had our students do was create a list of their similarities using the notepad on the IPAD.
Students taking photos together.
Tips on Successful Reading Buddies:
1. Match up students carefully.
Take into account students’ personalities, behavior, and reading levels so that partnerships are successful.
2. Explicitly teach the older students how to read aloud.
I will usually do a mini-lesson or demonstration with my students on strategies for reading aloud picture books before we read with our reading buddies.
3. Mix it up every week.
Sometimes we encourage the fifth graders to pick their favorite books in advance to bring to read. Other times, we go to the library together and students pick out books together and read. Some weeks, we do a hands-on activity together which helps deepen their relationships and allows them to get to know each other in another way. This is particular good for those students that are struggling readers, but excel in other areas like art.
4. Invite your reading buddy class to your class events.
Last year, we invited our reading buddies to come watch our poetry cafe. This year, we went into their class to share what we learned during our nonfiction unit in reading workshop.
5. Do a long term project together.
Last year, we had students create picture books for each other. It did take about 1-2 months to plan, draft, revise and publish their books. It was nice though because at the end, they gave their buddy the book they made. This year, they are creating a math picture book together.
6. Integrate the activity to your curriculum.
When our students were working on their poetry unit, we had them work on writing poetry together with their reading buddy. The fifth graders were good at teaching the second graders about poetry and they did a great job working together to create poems. Poetry is a great and easy unit to incorporate into your reading buddies and it’s part of the curriculum.