Thinking about starting a Reading Buddies program in your classroom this year? Here are some tips and tools to get things rolling!
Consider putting School-wide Reading Buddies on a staff meeting agenda.
Discuss the benefits for all students with your divisional leads and administration, and even if the seed of the idea is planted to be reassessed next year, it will give you a sense of who might be open to a pairing for this year.
Take age into consideration.
An age / grade difference of 2-3 years between buddies puts a clear boundary between who the big buddies and little buddies are.
Approach a colleague about pairing classes... ...and be realistic about whether your schedules will work! Casual conversation over lunch can often accomplish this, but it seems like our time is less our own these days! Here is a frees free letter and form to simplify the process:
Build Reading Buddy time into your timetable.
When 'it's official' everyone knows what to expect, when. Perhaps it is alternate week familiar reading, word-work, or math skills review through games, part of character education or religious education for forty minutes. While Reading Buddies may not appear in on the timetable your principal has to hand in to the school board, it's important that the kids have this special time to look forward to. It could even happen over lunch!
Define expectations to both classes.
This is accomplished best if done as individual classes, as the expectations differ for the age groups in some ways. Review general expectations when they are brought together for the first few times, and provide visual reminders. Reading Buddies time can quickly look like recess if sixty kids are unsure of what the rules are, half the kids, 'read the book already' and have decided to hang out with someone else!
Talk to your partner class' teacher about general and specific expectations.
I wrote general expectations in a storybook lesson format for my students, explaining to the bigger buddies (third graders) 'This is what I am reading to your little buddies' (kindergarters). One of my TpT customers reads her class the story each year, then posts the pages on a bulletin board! I love that! Here are some ideas for general expectations from my Reading Buddies Starter pack:
What are some expectations that you find important to put in place during Reading Buddies time?