Today is fantastic Friday. Why? In our school district Friday is the day we are allowed to wear jeans provided we sport our spirit wear. At the end of tomorrow our spring break week starts (that is really fantastic).
But really I’m pretty pumped because tomorrow is Buddy Pup’s birthday. He is our very own, chubby-big-puppy mascot for Buddy Day! Once or twice a month, all of our fifth graders and all of our first graders come to our cafeteria for a Liberty/Literacy celebration. This year we have over 300 students in our cafeteria for Buddy Day. Buddy Pup is the centerpiece of this literacy activity because he writes letters back and forth to the first grade classrooms.
We start with our Whoa Clap dance, the brain friendly way to start any massive group gathering. After the Whoa Clap, their brains are ready to learn new things about reading. We start the year where first graders start…needing funny songs and poems and now, at this point of the year, we are into our story books where we solidify our comprehension strategies that we have been learning about in all of our classrooms. The most important management strategy of course…you know it, is TURN and TALK, and believe me, they love to talk and they love their buddies. After our twenty-minute whole group time the partners work on reading and writing activities and alas, my fifth graders have the joy of working with first graders on the dreaded Dolch words which they actually find fun to teach.
I am a believer in cross- age-learning…both students in the pair profit. One of my pals who teaches first graders will be completing her dissertation on Buddy Day this year. A very important part of this program is teaching the fifth graders how to work with their buddy. I create the lesson plan, explain it to the fifth graders in another 30 minute session and then they become the teachers who engage their younger partners in learning. This is unique to our program. Hopefully, we are growing some students who will become future teachers.
It has been our tradition. It is one of those memorable events that students leave our school with.
Tomorrow we will be singing the birthday song with Buddy. He will be requesting his favorite song and dance, Going on a Bear Hunt. He will be opening this very enormous box that contains the best present in the world. I think you might be able to guess. But shhhh, don’t ruin the secret!
PS This is the song that we use for our Whoa Clap. They follow me up front move to the music (like aerobics or zumba) for just the early part of the song. Then we start clapping faster, I extend my right hand up and my left hand back and we say WHOAAAA CLAP. At that exact moment the music is turned off, their bottoms are on the floor and everyone is focused and there is absolutely not a peep from the crowd. If you want to see a movie of it, I think I may be able to record it on my phone and put it up on my page. They do love it.