I’ve always included Buddy Reading as a daily activity during my literacy block and I’ve always felt like it was a mildly effective but important way to help kids grow their fluency (and sometimes comprehension.) But observing my 3rd graders this year, I really wanted to make it more powerful. I can’t believe how easy it was to do just that!
Typically, I’ve allowed the kids to choose how to Buddy Read. Some might read from their own books and then stop and talk. Some might take turns reading from the same book. Some would read a page at a time or a paragraph at a time. I left it open. Unfortunately, what inevitably happened was less than ideal. Usually one student would do most of the reading and the discussions were fairly surface-level. “Hey look at this funny picture,” types of conversations.
I also began to assign the Buddy Reading texts, which I have never done before. I put out a variety of books, including stories from our basal, (8 choices) for each partner team to choose from. This allowed me to monitor not only the level of reading, but the genre and vocabulary focus.
Then we practiced the routine. Partner A reads a page, Partner B reads a question. Partner B reads a page, Partner A reads a question. I think the reason this ended up working so well is because the partner not reading still has to pay attention in order to know if the other partners’ answer makes any sense. And the question cards seem to help focus the conversation. I’ve been witnessing some amazing conversations lately!
Such simple changes but I can’t believe the difference it has made! And I love that the kids are having to both read and answer the same kinds of questions they will encounter on tests. Now they can easily recognize all those big words that trip them up in questions.
The other funny part has been the way the kids help each other and discuss the different questions. The other day, I heard one student ask “What can you predict will happen next?” and the other student gave an answer that didn’t really make sense. So the first student asked, “What’s your evidence for that prediction?” I almost spit out my coffee! I also heard a student explaining “author’s purpose” when their partner wasn’t sure how to answer the question.
It’s a small celebration, I know, but I’ll take it! I’ve posted the cards in my TPT Store for free.