How can I implement Cross-Age Learning?

Besides the specific lesson plans provided by this site, the following are very effective general methods that are easily used in CAL:

Paired Reading

    Paired Reading (Morgan & Lyon, 1979) requires the tutor to read aloud in time with the tutee, stopping when the tutee signals the tutor to do so and resuming when the tutee hesitates or makes an error.  A key feature is that the tutees have a free choice of what book they will read.  Topping (1987) stated that Paired Reading had become the best researched technique of its kind and that the method appears to be remarkably effective.  It has been used with children from age 5 to adults, with nonreaders to advanced readers, and with a very wide range of cognitive abilities and disabilities.

    No special materials are needed.  Tutees select books of interest to them regardless of readability level so long as the book is within the tutor’s reading abilities.  The “five finger test” is often used: “The tutor picks any page of the book at random, spreads the five fingers of one hand, and places the fingertips on the text.  If the tutor can accurately and fluently read the five words touched, the book is probably appropriate, but if there is difficulty in reading more than one of the five words, the book is too hard.  If there is a problem with only one of the five words, the test is reapplied on a different page.”

    The tutor is encouraged to be physically close to the tutee, to discuss what is being read with the tutee, and to provide a good deal of praise for correct reading.  The tutor and tutee read out loud together, with the tutor adjusting to the tutee’s natural speed if the selection is difficult.  The tutee can signal for the tutor to be temporarily silent during easy selections.  When the tutee makes a mistake, the tutor simply says the correct word aloud, and the two continue reading together.  Preparation for tutoring is brief.  Monitoring can be done by a teacher if most of the tutoring is done within class time.

Written Dictation

    Written Dictation is an easy and natural extension of Paired Reading, VIP, or other learning activities.  In Written Dictation, the tutor simply helps the tutee to create or relate a story, which the tutor writes down on paper.  Depending upon their ages and abilities, the tutor and tutee can edit the story together or the tutor can edit it with a peer or teacher.  The tutee can illustrate and read the edited story aloud.  Stories can be collated into books.

Vocabulary Increases Power (VIP)

    Vocabulary is commonly the single highest correlate with intelligence and achievement.  VIP is an easy and enjoyable means for teaching vocabulary by means of cross-age learning (CAL).  It is also an excellent vehicle for initiating CAL, as it provides a ready structure for teaching older students to help younger students.  VIP consists of 60 scenes with 12-15 focus pictures from each scene for students to identify and discuss.  A word index in English and another in Spanish enhance learning. This web-site version is in English and Spanish, but you can use it to teach any language by translating it yourself or, perhaps, by using the Questions and Answers forum to find existing translations.

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