Being home all summer with three kiddos reminds me of how essential and fun our daily reading time/routine is for our family. My littlest, a two year old, loves to be read to and can't get enough of his older brother and sister sitting with him and reading his favorite truck books. This small moment of everyday impacts each of them in very diverse ways, but is essential for all. My littlest hears fluent reading, gets snuggle time, and is drawn into his favorite books, while my big kids practice fluent reading and take pride in the work they are doing to make our littlest love reading. Did you know your students like to feel these experiences too?!
Each year my sixth graders are teamed up with the first graders as a way to connect our diverse groups of learners. The idea began about six years ago when I realized that many of my sixth graders needed practice to enhance fluency, and my first grade teaching pal, Mrs. Eshman, had students that really needed practice listening to reading. We decided it was the perfect match! We brought the students to the cafeteria with books in hand, paired them up, and prepared for them to sit together and read.
My 6th graders have always loved reading with their reading buddies. It is a treat each week to see a special little person that looks just as forward to spending time with them. For the first few weeks it is a novelty and everyone seems to be on their best behavior, but as the first weeks of school turn into months, focus eases up and the act of reading is no longer an activity that maintains everyone’s attention.
Over the last few years I have found that the reading time seems to go very quickly and my sixth graders are trying to find the best way to fill up the rest of their time. The little ones can get off task easily, which can be a challenge for my sixth graders to manage. In addition, my sixth graders that are supposed to be the role models can have issues of their own at times. Despite teacher re-direction, the time wasn’t being utilized the way we had envisioned.
After one week of far too much re-focusing of our students, we began planning and coordinating what was read from that point on. It was ideal. The sixth graders were armed with more than a book, and wanted to take ownership over not just reading, but also helping their first grade pal develop a skill.
Teachers are busy and have minimal time for extras, and so this interactive notebook was born. Instead of having to plan each week for reading pals, this is the tool that will allow your older and younger students to thrive when working together. The work is done for you! Simply print, grab student book boxes/baskets, cut, glue, and go! Your students will be more than excited to work together and there is enough fun to keep your reading pals engaged. There is nothing like seeing the older students guiding the younger learners. You will gain a new perspective of students that will thrive when given a leadership role as a BIG KID Reading Pal. Grab this FREEBIE to explore how reading pals can work for you!