The Power of Buddy Classrooms: 19 Ideas

Posted
6/8/2016
Jon Konen
School Principal
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PU#113 - Use Buddy Classes

Read to me, draw with me…let's create something together!

Creating a community of learners in a school can be done in many ways by students and staff. One way to quickly build relationships between students and staff is to create Buddy Classrooms. These are classrooms from different grade levels that meet routinely. The goal of the Buddy Classrooms is to create bonds between older students and younger students. The older students become role models for these younger students.

There are many powerful ways these classroom connections can become even more powerful for your school. Here is a list of 19 ideas for use of buddy classrooms:

1) Reading Buddies -- younger students can read to older students and vice versa, create book commercials together, book chats, and more.

2) Art Projects -- create art projects together; if there are more intricate processes to the art project, save them for the older buddy partner.

3) Science Experiment Teammates -- create a science experiment that buddies can do by collecting data, building, and then experimenting; share out the findings together.

4) Discipline Buddies -- when a student owes time or is not ready to participate, they can do a time out in other buddy classroom; sending a note can help the receiving teacher know how they can support the student.

5) Sharing Good News -- When a student does something to celebrate, they go to their buddy room and receive praise, a cheer, or even earn time with the buddy classroom.

6) Field Day -- At the end or start of the year, older students could set up track and field events; or an obstacle course for the younger students, then support the younger students as they participate, or they can participate with them.

7) Technology Projects -- Introducing younger students to technology can be made easier with older buddy class partners; students can complete a project together while learning new software or hardware; teams can then share out their project.

8) Writing Stories -- Students can write a story together; then share out together; older students could type while younger students can help develop the story.

9) Modeling School Procedures -- Older students can support younger students by modeling what it looks like and sounds like to walk down hallways, exit or enter school, ask for help, etc...

10) Assembly Partners -- During assemblies older students can sit with their younger buddy partners; modeling is key here.

11) Creating Buddy Class Logo, Team Name, and Saying -- Creating a team atmosphere by each buddy classroom team creating a logo and having an inspirational saying associated with the team.

12) Playground Assistants -- Older students are placed with younger students to teach them how to use the playground equipment; older students can help run games and activities outside; if your school has the Peaceful Playground games, older students can model and teach the younger students.

13) Cleaning Crew -- Buddy partners clean up around the school together; make it into a contest by weighing each team's bag of garbage.

14) Partner Walking -- When a student needs a break from the classroom or other activity, a buddy partner can walk with them in a designated area; this can be used in a Behavior Intervention Plan with supervision.

15) Fundraising Teams -- Buddy classrooms can raise money for a cause; classrooms can compete against each other throughout the school; buddy classrooms can set up and organize a team or even a school-wide fund raiser.

16) Breakfast Buddies/Lunch Buddies -- Buddy partners can eat with each other for breakfast of lunch; this may be used as an incentive or for modeling opportunities.

17) Crosswalk/Dismissal Partners -- Older buddies can support younger students across the crosswalks either coming to school or at dismissal; older students can help their little buddies with any other high traffic areas before or after school.

18) Reward Incentives -- A classroom can earn points to spend more time with their buddy classroom; or another variation is when both classrooms attain a certain specified goal then they get to do something fun together.

19) History Partners -- Buddies can partner up to learn history; older students can help research historical people, places, or events; students can create a project together; students can partner to create a wax museum and share out their historical figure.

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Jon Konen

Jon Konen is a father, husband, K-6 elementary principal, and freelance writer in Great Falls, Montana. He has taught most all grade levels K-6, and has been a K-12 principal of a rural school. As a 5th grade teacher in 2010, he won the Presidential Award for Elementary Math and Science Teaching (PAEMST). As a principal, his school won the 2012 Blue Ribbon Award. In 2018, he won the National Distinguished Principal Award (NDP). He is the author of two guides, An Educator's Guide to Combat Bullying & Bully Prevention and Teacher Evaluation: A Transition Guide to Exemplary Performance. He has authored a children's picture book that will be released in October, 2018 titled, Principal Reads and Benjamin's Visit to the Office…Not the First!
Jon Konen

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