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Learning is Better with a Buddy

Fifth-graders in the district’s six elementary schools pride themselves on serving as role models for their younger counterparts. Buddy activities are popular with students, who enjoy interacting with peers from down the hall or even a different side of the building.

At McKenna Elementary School, first-grade and fifth-grade classes come together about once a month for cooperative learning such as arts and crafts, writing projects or partner reading. First-graders Tusha Crescenzo’s class look forward to their time with Carol Ann Habeeb-Kiel’s fifth-graders.

“The children can’t wait to get together,” Ms. Crescenzo said,as the buddies worked collaboratively on colorful cards for the Valentines for Veterans program. “The fifth-graders are mentors to them.”

Before the holidays, each fifth-grader made a gift out of their handprint for his or her younger buddy. The class went to the room when the first-graders were at lunch, so they would return to see the surprises on their desks.

Birch Lane Elementary School kindergarten teacher Jennifer Emberley and fifth-grade teacher Susan Murphy have watched their students become technology buddies. They have been participating in activities throughout the year using Chromebooks with support from technology learning coach Vickie Ahearn.

As an initial lesson, the seasoned Chromebook users showed the kindergartners how to log in and access different resources. In November, they made Flipgrid videos about Thanksgiving traditions, which was followed by digital snowmen creations in Google Slides.

For Valentine’s Day, kindergartners wrote lists of 10 things they love as a Writer’s Workshop activity and used Seesaw to make fun images. The fifth-graders helped them take selfies, then add text and graphics. 

Fairfield Elementary School fifth-graders in Allison Martin’s class worked with kindergartners in Melanie Bonagura’s class in Book Creator. The buddies used the digital learning tool on Chromebooks to write stories about what they would do if they were stuck in a snow globe. The children served as the main characters of their stories, and added narration along with photos and videos.