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    mixed-grade buddy reading
    By sj

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    I did some of this with a developmental first and fourth grade classes. I (the fourth grade teacher) wrote some how-to instructions for various art/craft activities. When paired, the 4th grader was to read the directions with the 1st grader and lead them through the activity, with both children making the craft item. Put into the position of teacher/guide, the 4th graders became intent on reading for full meaning and were awesome explainers and helpers for the younger ones. One project involved making a clown face from a chinet paper plate--punch a hole in the middle after coloring on the face, then attach paper ears and pull a balloon end through the hole to make the nose. These work-to-create sessions could be great culminators for buddies who finish reading a book on a related topic. The other teacher and I also set up a file on the little guys, with a folder for each one of them. In the folder was a book, a Weekly Reader, Betsy Bear Listen & color activities, and even flash cards that the older child could lead with his little buddy with little or no teacher direction. As the 4th grade teacher, I scheduled specific times for each student to go to the D1 room to help his little buddy. The system was that regardless of the D1 class activity at the time, the 4th grader was to go tap the D1 on the shoulder and go to a set-aside buddy area and do whatever the teacher had left in the file for his little buddy. This worked really well, gave the 4th graders reason to read and boosted their confidence greatly (great for some of our struggling students, which turned out to be some of our best tutors!) and a good way to get some extra tutoring in for the D1 kids. Occassionally we would schedule non-reading fun times for the classes to be together, like a jumprope time. I remember one time in particular that was so sweet because one of our 4th graders couldn't jump rope. The D1 kids were so encouraging and had built such a bond with their buddies by then that the 4th grader had a whole cheering squad as he learned to jump. Because his buddies were younger, he was able to try something "babyish" that he would never have tried with only his peers. We also planned some seasonal things such as Thanksgiving Dinner, with the D1 being Indians, and 4th being pilgrims. They had worked together as buddies to do some of the reading research and preparing some of the crafts (like the Indian vests) as buddies before we met for our "feast". Hope this helps you generate more ideas. We had a wonderful time with it, and felt that it was immensely successful for both age groups.

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