9 Ways to Make Your Reading Buddies Program More Effective

Do you want to implement a Reading Buddies program in your elementary school? Check out these must read tips to ensure a successful and effective buddy reading program with your students! #thereadingroundup #buddyreading


Reading Buddies is a popular program in elementary schools that promotes literacy. Many students have greatly benefited from buddy reading over the years. If you're considering implementing this at your school, you'll want to check out these must read tips to ensure a highly effective program for all of your students!


This is Part 2 of my Reading Buddies series. Don't miss Part 1 where I explained the program and the benefits of it!

TIPS FOR IMPLEMENTING READING BUDDIES


Assign Buddies

If your entire school is on board, it is recommended to pair up a lower grade with an older grade with specific teachers being assigned to each other. Ideal pairings would be: Kindergarten with 3rd, 1st with 4th, and 2nd with 5th. These pairings should remain in place for the entire year, which allows students to build solid relationships. If your entire school isn't on board, you can still pair up teachers that will remain consistent all year.

After the classes are assigned to each other, it's time to pair up students. Students should have the same buddy all year. Obviously, things happen with students being sick, moving in/out, etc., but remaining as consistent as possible helps with the success of the buddies.

Things to consider when pairing up students
The two teachers should briefly meet to discuss students' personalities and ability levels to create ideal pairs. If you have a 2nd grader who is reading significantly above grade level, you obviously wouldn't want to pair him/her with a 5th grader reading below grade level. This defeats the purpose of the program for both students. Personalities should also be considered for effective pairs. Two students who lack focus would not be an ideal match. You may also want to administer interest surveys and pair students by their shared interests. This immediately creates a natural connection with students that helps build a better relationship between them. (Find out more about administering reading interest surveys).

Do you want to implement a Reading Buddies program in your elementary school? Check out these must read tips to ensure a successful and effective buddy reading program with your students! #thereadingroundup #buddyreading
Teacher form to document buddy reading pairs.


Schedule a Set Time

In order to make reading buddies a priority it helps to schedule a consistent time each week to meet. Teachers have busy schedules but if you know that on a certain day of the week you have reading buddies for 15-30 minutes, you're more likely to stick to it. You'll soon find that students look forward to those days!

Find a Place to Meet

Decide on a quiet place to meet with plenty of space for students to spread out. This could be a classroom, empty hallway, library, or even outside. 


Start with an Icebreaker

When students first meet their buddies you may want to plan some fun activities for students to get to know each other. You can use the same type of getting to know you activities you plan at the beginning of the year to build a sense of community. (Click to download a freebie of suggested Ice Breaker activities!) Buddies can also fill out an interest survey together so they can immediately discover their shared interests. This naturally gives them something to talk about and allows them to begin to form a connection.
Do you want to implement a Reading Buddies program in your elementary school? Check out these must read tips to ensure a successful and effective buddy reading program with your students! #thereadingroundup #buddyreading
Administering reading interest surveys can help teachers
more effectively assign students to reading buddies.


Establish and Model Expectations

Teachers should set expectations for students. How should the reading look? What should students achieve during this time? You may want to consider creating the desired structure for how you want the time to be spent. (Do students take turns reading each time or alternate by weeks? Who reads first?). Most importantly, these expectations need to be modeled for students. 

Provide Scaffolds for Success

Along with modeling expected behaviors, you will want to provide prompts to help reading buddies be effective. These scaffolds may include visual reminders to remind students of the expectations during that time together. It is also beneficial to provide prompts for older students to support younger students when they get stuck.
Do you want to implement a Reading Buddies program in your elementary school? Check out these must read tips to ensure a successful and effective buddy reading program with your students! #thereadingroundup #buddyreading
Buddy Reading bookmarks scaffold students for success!


Allow Time for Discussion

The reading buddies program allows students to improve their comprehension as well as their fluency and accuracy. You can orally provide a comprehension prompt for all partnerships to discuss after reading. Students can also have discussion bookmarks with prompts depending on the desired skill you want them to focus on during that time. This could be retelling what they read, making connections, or reflecting on their reading fluency. For teachers who want even more accountability during this time, you may want to assign a shared reading response sheet for partners to complete. This might not be needed in most cases, but some classes might require the additional structure for success.
Do you want to implement a Reading Buddies program in your elementary school? Check out these must read tips to ensure a successful and effective buddy reading program with your students! #thereadingroundup #buddyreading
Reading response sheets that buddies can complete
together to increase student accountability.


Reflect on Reading

Lead students in a discussion after reading buddies to reflect on what went well and what they can improve upon next time. Upper-grade teachers will want to provide time to help students problem solve and practice strategies to better support their reading buddies. 


Plan Events to Build Relationships

The reading buddies program isn't just about reading. Teachers can plan other activities where older students help students with math tasks. Buddies can complete projects together such as holiday crafts and/or Stem challenges. It's also important to plan a fun event at the end of the year to celebrate a year of growth together! This can be as simple as a popsicle party!

Do you want to implement a Reading Buddies program in your elementary school? Check out these must read tips to ensure a successful and effective buddy reading program with your students! #thereadingroundup #buddyreading
Click to view the resources I use for buddy reading 
with my students - including the tools shown above!


Hopefully, this has inspired you to start or enhance your reading buddies program. If you've already implemented reading buddies, what other tips were most beneficial for you? Pin the following image and share your tips in the pin's comments!



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Do you want to implement a Reading Buddies program in your elementary school? Check out these must read tips to ensure a successful and effective buddy reading program with your students! #thereadingroundup #buddyreading


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