Once a month, the upper grade students visit the lower grade students in an event we have deemed "Reading Buddies." My 5th graders were paired with a second grade class, and they truly do look forward to this time each month. I see my students beeming with pride and a sense of responsibility, carrying their books down the hall to the classroom. It just makes them feel special, to have been given this "buddy" to work with and "take care of" even if for just a small amount of time each month while they read together.
Reading buddies is great, but that's not to say that all of a sudden our students were completely engaged in and enthralled with what they were reading. We still had to deal with some reluctant readers and off-task behaviors while the 2nd and 5th graders were reading together.
I will say though, that once my students and I decided they could take their tablets to reading buddies, it was a whole different story. They appeared to be even more excited and willing to work and share with their buddies. The 5th graders loved the fact that they would be able to show off their tablets and ebooks to their buddies, and I loved how important it made them all feel. Again, some of the interactions between students I saw were epic: especially when I saw a few of the 5th graders actually hand over their "prize posession" to their little buddies in order to let them feel special, privileged, and "cool," like they feel. I could see the comfort level of some of my ELL students increase, as they could use the audio to read the books to them! Off-task and reluctant behaviors decreased, and student to student interaction and reading increased!
I would say that these tablets were a worthwhile investment as seen through the new and improved, "Reading Buddies: Version 2.0"...