The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Taking Reading Buddies to the Next Level

My students have been working with first grade reading buddies since the beginning of the year. During this time, the first graders have been reading from the book boxes while the fourth graders played the role of active listeners. On occasion, the buddies would take turns reading, still from the first graders’ book boxes, and a few of the students worked directly with one of the three teachers on comprehension and fluency skills.

Just before the winter break, though, the two first grade teachers and I talked and decided we wanted to take buddy reading to a higher level. Instead of just reading together, we wanted all of the students to participate in some comprehension work. One of the teachers was able to find a wide variety of graphic organisers that she has introduced to some of her more advanced readers, and we decided to use these with all of the students during our buddy reading time.

We were originally going to introduce them last week but there were some changes in our schedule that would have made it less than ideal, so we put it off until today. Before going down to the first grade classroom, I talked to my class about the graphic organisers and the type of things they should be looking for while reading. The organisers focus on summarising the text, so I asked my students what the key parts of a summary are. They identified the characters, setting, plot, and main idea.

When we got together with our buddies, I showed all of the students the organiser ans showed how it had a space for characters, setting, problem, and solution. I asked them to tell me what characters are, and, with coaching from one of the first grade teachers, a student described them as the actors in the story, whether human or animal. When asked what the setting is, one of the first graders eagerly raised his hand and said, “The setting is where the action takes place!” His teacher gave him a fist-bump for that awesome definition and I gave him a double high-five. He was super excited to remember what they had been discussing in their class! The fourth graders helped their buddies understand what the problem and solution of the story meant, and then we set them loose to read and respond!

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When our thirty minutes was up, I collected the organisers that had been completed. Those pairs that hadn’t finished put their incomplete papers into their book boxes so they can finish next week. I will be looking over the ones that were turned in today and am going to put them up on the bulletin board outside my classroom for everyone to see!

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