Here are more organizing tips from some experienced cross-age learning teachers:
Since research indicates that a two or three year age difference between older and younger Buddies seems to be optimal, we try to follow that rule of thumb as much as we can at our school. Within that guideline, teachers pair themselves up. We don’t have funds for release time to plan, so each teacher team plans whenever and however it can. Rough planning for a next cross-age session can often be done while teachers are observing their current session. In some teams, teachers take turns planning, either every other session or a number of sessions in a row.
- It helps a lot if teacher teams remain the same for at least the school year, if not several years in a row. After a while, planning becomes quick and easy. We often plan a month or two at a time. Sometimes, we sit down together to plan. Other times, one of us just jots down calendar suggestions which the other can modify if need be. These are some guidelines we have used:
- Keep it simple (not less thought, but less prep).
- Plan by weeks (e.g., vocabulary, PE, vocabulary, PE).
- Work together in the same room. Sign up for gym or other large space when needed.
- Take time to talk with class about what they want/will do. Brainstorm ideas and make list. Planning can be upper grade homework.
- Articulate what you expect of a Buddy “teacher.”
- Process vs. Product: E.g., Little Buddy responsible for drawing picture and Big Buddy responsible for questions.
- Five minute evaluation at end of 30 minute activity is about right.
- Chart paper for what has worked especially well.
- Make school-year list of activities with comments to guide next year’s planning.
Looking at common curriculum goals of both groups means the time is not just fun, but is helping all students work on skills - social, academic, and/or creative.
Home - Principal Support - Teacher Support - Teacher
Teaming - Student Startup - Importance
Teamwork - Language
Arts - ESL - Mathematics - Science - Social
Studies - The Arts -PE