Reading Buddies: Not just for Reading!

Jee Young and I have offered many blog posts about reading buddies during our first year of blogging. It just made sense seeing how our two classes used to hang out once a week when we worked at the same school, we loved reading buddies!

Tips for Successful Reading Buddies

Students teaching Students

Reading Buddy Activity for Poetry

End of the Year Book Buddy Activity

This year I am coordinating the reading buddy activities for the whole elementary school, since our school is small we all have reading buddies at the same time— and with each other! As I am trying to find reading activities that fit ages ranging from kindergarten to fourth grade I am realizing more and more that reading buddies are so much more than just reading together. My younger students look forward to it every week, a chance to hang out (in a class like setting) with the older students, who wouldn’t want that?

This year we have been able to not only read together, but they’ve been able to do art projects together, they have played games together, they  co-authored a math story book, they have colored, they have laughed, they have learned how to communicate with people outside their age group.

banagrams math

I readily admit though, that watching these students read to each other and with each other, and ask each other questions— that is my absolute favorite part of reading buddies!

I just typed in “reading buddies” into pinterest to check out how many boards there are, I am about to have a field day! I love that new things are always popping up there.

What are some great activities you do with reading buddies?

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Reading/Book Buddy Activity for… you guessed it: Poetry!

I don’t know where you are in the world, but here in Korea, the weather has been gorgeous! Which makes writing poetry that much more fun. Last Friday my students headed up to Jee Young’s classroom to meet with our fifth grade book buddies (also called reading buddies, your choice!). Jee Young and I decided that since we are both teaching a unit on poetry, it would be fun to have our students write a poem together.

(This is one of my student’s checking out Jee Young’s Classroom’s Poetry Corner with her book buddy.)

The fifth graders always hold a Poetry Cafe, and at the end of their unit they invite the elementary school to come and listen to them perform poems that mentored and inspired them, as well as poems they wrote. This year Jee Young thought it would be great if our book buddies wrote a two voice poem together and performed at the Poetry Cafe. I was so impressed by some of the poems our students wrote together last Friday!

Here is an example of a two voice poem that Jee Young’s students taught to mine: Fireflies by Paul Fleischman.

What are some things you do with your book buddies? Any creative ideas for us? Please share!

Students Teaching Students

For the final project in our landforms unit, I have my fifth grade students teach our book buddies class (Melody’s 2nd grade class) about volcanoes. The students are expected to teach the second graders what they learned about volcanoes. This is fun to see them take on the role of a teacher. Not only do they realize how hard it is, but it helps them make sure they really learned and understood what we studied.

One of the requirements for this project is that they integrate technology. In the past, I used to require them to make a power point or use a specific type of technology. However, something our I.T. specialist has encouraged me to do is to leave it more open, so the students can choose how they will use technology. So for this project, I let them decide how to incorporate technology.  Many of them created I-movies, Powerpoint, Glogster, and used  iPads. The students also have to create an assessment to see if the students learned what they taught. For the first day, my students went in to teach about volcanoes, and the next day they will give them the quiz!  The final part of the project is to erupt volcanoes with them.

One of the groups came up with a fun board game!


Here’s a link to one of the glogster’s they created!

http://www.glogster.com/glog/6ln37kntlmlruq3b9iahla0

Tips for Successful Reading Buddies

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 have fun using the photo booth options 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.