“If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”
-- Ignacio Estrada

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Viking Buddies

P and K reading about Johnny Appleseed
At the end of last year, I was asked to present for a group of teachers at Princeton High School. In conversation, I mentioned to one of the high school intervention specialists how I thought it would be neat if we could get some of the high school students to be reading buddies to my students. Some of these high school students would be my former students. So on top of it being a cool project to have them read, I was excited to see my former students all grown up.

Fast forward to August, I get an email from the high school teacher. She is still interested in getting this partnership started. Less than 4 weeks later, we had our first Viking Buddies day! (Ms. Schell, I hope your ok with the new name...thought it sounded kind of cool!)

For the high school students, this was a week of preparation. Last week, they made a trip to the public library to learn about how to look for book and check them out. Their mission....find books relating to apples and/or Johnny Appleseed that would be appropriate for K-2 students. Next, the students practiced reading the books in preparation for the visit. Finally, Monday, September 17th came and they were on there way to visit!

J and A reading about Johnny Appleseed
My students were a little taken back by the bigger kids, but soon realized that they were a lot cooler than Mrs. B. The first book was created by a student (with adult assistance). It was a narrated PowerPoint book about the class. It introduced the students and some of there favorite things. It was a great ice breaker as the students quickly found commonalities between them, such as watching Spongebob and liking animals. Next, the students paired off - one elementary and one high school student. The students read with easy and were very attentive to the younger students. My students sat quietly and were attentive to the books. The day ended with us enjoying lunch together in the school courtyard.

D and I reading about Johnny Appleseed
It was a great day. You could tell the high school students (who often struggle to feel like the top dog) felt like they were the top dog. You could tell that my students enjoyed the attention, kind of like the attention of an older sibling. I (as well as many other staff members) thoroughly enjoyed seeing and talking to the two previous students. I also enjoyed talking and observing all the high school students. It gave me a nice perspective on where my students are going and what is possible.

As a K-2 teacher, it is often challenging to see the future for my students. It is often challenging to know if I am teaching the right things, focusing on the right things. Then I see Ann (named changed). Ann is a high school sophomore. She started elementary school in Kindergarten. She started Kindergarten with three intelligible words - "pop o wadda" AKA "Pop or water?" which she would repeat over and over as she played in the dramatic play area. We worked hard with her speech. She had a AAC device for a while. Now, this bitty Kindergartener 10 years later is reading (INTELLIGIBLY) to my students AND is the social butterfly of the class! (and yes, I had one of those "proud to be a teacher" moments that evening as I reflected on the day!)

Was this experience a great one? Yes! Will is happen again? ABSOLUTELY!!

Stay tuned for more posts about Room 220 and their Viking Buddies!

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