How can I implement Cross-Age Learning?
On this web site’s Teacher Support and Principal Support sections, guidelines are given for how principals and teachers can organize among themselves. Here are some guidelines for how teachers can organize students:
1. A two-year older student/younger student age difference tends to be best. Thus, a K-5 school might best have 3rd graders be Big Buddies for Kindergartners, 4th graders be Big Buddies for 1st graders, and 5th graders be Big Buddies for 2nd graders.
2. Generally, 30-40 minutes per session seems best. Teacher partners set up a regular time which is mutually convenient, such as 10:00-10:40 a.m., every Tuesday.
3. Only simple, not extensive, preparation of Big Buddies is needed. In general, Big Buddies appear to benefit most from relatively unstructured programs that require them to learn to think, plan, and organize Buddies activities and materials. See the Principals & Teachers Guide for ways to do it.
4. Probably the easiest and best way to start is by using cross-age learning Picture Vocabulary Books. After a few sessions with a cross-age learning Picture Vocabulary Book, it should be easy to branch out into other subjects and activities, including physical education. A number of sample lesson plans are given on this web site. Many more examples of activities are given in the Principals & Teachers Guide.
5. Boys and girls have been about equally effective as Big Buddies for unrelated younger children. In pairing up Big and Little Buddies, the preferences of the children may often be the best guide. Most children tend to prefer to be paired with the same gender. Also see the Student Startup and Importance of Processing sections.
6. See Teacher Teaming for tips on how teacher teams can organize their cross-age plans and sessions.