The Buddy System
As I walk among the busy, noisy, laughing pairs of students, I am reminded of the first day ECLC2A and 5C came together. In August, a few of the Heart Class students were too shy even to interact with Ms. Anderson’s fifth graders. Now, as they read together in January, the benefits of the yearlong Reading Buddies are obvious.
For the older students, such meetings are a chance to gain confidence in reading as well as to practice important literacy skills such as expression, tone, and fluency. Ms. Anderson has coached her students with some clever tricks to keep their young partners engaged and interested. Across the room, you can hear fifth grade readers exclaiming, questioning, and entertaining the ECLC students.
The advantages for the ECLC students are perhaps less audible and more visible. Students dash across the room when a book is finished to select another from the class library. Others lean on their partners, watchful and attentive. The younger students are absorbing literacy skills without even realizing it—knowing which way to turn the pages, tracking the print with their eyes or fingers, learning to choose books that suit their interests.
More importantly, however, all the students involved with the Reading Buddies are having fun with literacy and developing an appreciation for reading.
Two special activities have arisen out of the Reading Buddies for the ECLC2A students. The first is that, in order to always have new and interesting books to read with their Buddies, these young students have learned to use the school library. Although most are not yet capable of conventionally reading a single word, every member of the Heart Class can now purposefully stride into the library, knowing how to search for a good book to share with a friend.
Another activity that the Buddies shared was the day that they became Writing Buddies. Recently, both the older and younger students prepared hand-drawn pictures to be used as prompts. As the pairs settled in to write a story together, some chose to combine the themes of both of their pictures; others elected to use only one. No matter how they did it, each group ended up with a fantastic, original piece of writing. These short works of fiction are displayed in the stairwell of Building 1 in Jing Shan.
The ECLC2A students look forward to many more happy, productive meetings with our Buddies during the course of the year.
To read more stories about Shekou International School visit their website: www.sis.org.cn/why-choose-sis