Every week at Woodland Intermediate School (WIS), fourth graders read aloud with second graders to enhance reading comprehension through the Book Buddies program, an innovative approach to collaborative learning developed by Amy Craig and Patti Cutler, teachers at WIS.
Every Friday, fourth graders from Patti Cutler’s class visit Amy Craig’s second grade classroom to take turns reading aloud with their Book Buddy. Amy and Patti assign each fourth grader a second-grade book buddy to read with. “The younger students enjoy reading aloud to their older buddy while the older buddy learns additional reading comprehension by helping guide their younger counterpart through different books,” explained Amy, who started Book Buddies four years ago. “Book buddies have the same partners each week so they build relationships over time; both classes truly look forward to every Friday so they can visit with their book buddy.”
Amy Craig, second grade teacher at WIS, finds that being Book Buddies helps students improve reading, writing, and public speaking skills.
Patti finds fourth graders who may be struggling with their reading skills improve when they tutor younger students, “Students can often be a little intimidated reading aloud at any age, but since both the older and young students take turns, the process helps improve both students’ public speaking abilities.”
Reading, both to oneself as well as aloud, is instrumental to a student’s academic development in a variety of areas. “Reading helps provide inspiration for a student’s own writing while also improving spelling as students recognize new words in the books they read,” explained Amy. “Young students are developing their fluency in the language and reading aloud also helps them learn to express emotion as they read.”
Over the school year, Patti Cutler, fourth grade teacher, notices that the students often develop lasting friendships with their Book Buddies.
In addition to enhancing reading skills, the Book Buddy program teaches older students that they serve as role models for younger students. “The fourth graders love mentoring their buddies and they often wave at each other when they see one another in the hallway,” said Patti.
Some students even see their buddy in an almost sibling-like relationship. “Some of our students don’t have younger or older siblings so having a book buddy can be a very new experience,” said Patti. “I’ve even had fourth graders tell me how sad they are at the end of the school year knowing they won’t be able to see their young friends when they move on to middle school.”
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