Digital Book Buddies

Book buddies are a fan favorite in the primary education sector.  Traditionally, younger students are paired with an older student, within the same school, to practice reading throughout the school year.  It also serves as an opportunity for the older students to mentor the younger students.

This year, my schools were taken to another level by introducing Digital Book Buddies.  Lower level students (1st and 2nd graders) from one school were paired with upper level students (4th and 5th graders) at another school. I have the privilege of working at two elementary schools, which made this plan ideal for the successful implementation of the coaching cycle.  We chose FlipGrid as our platform for digital correspondence.

To begin the process, I met with teachers individually to ensure they understood how the implementation would work and to ensure they could commit for the duration of the school year.

In the first meeting with the teachers, we created a FlipGrid Grid with one topic.  I put the Grids under my educator account and added both facilitating teachers as Co-Pilots. Check out the Flipgrid Educator Guide to get started. The topic link was shared with the younger students via Google Classroom.  Students have a maximum of 5 minutes to complete the reading aloud using FlipGrid. One recommendation would be to have the students practice and time them before recording.  Students recorded themselves reading using their chromebooks. We split the class into two sections. One read quietly, while the other completed their read alouds. This helped reduce the noise level in the video responses.

We then shared the FlipGrid Topic link with the older students (4th and 5th graders).  The older students were paired with a lower level student and watched their respective read-aloud.  Their task was to reply to their digital book buddy with positive feedback. An example would be, “Great job, Sally!  I really enjoyed your book about Penguins. My name is Sam, and I am a 5th grader at Reedsville Elementary School. Keep up the good work with your reading.”  

The younger students viewed the book buddies responses.  They were so excited to know that an older student heard them read a book and replied with a comment!

Girl with headphones on listening to computer.

The process is then reciprocated, when the older students check out picture books on their library day.  The librarians at my schools allowed the students to check out an extra book to fulfill their digital book buddy request.  The teachers created a new topic within the same grid. The upper level students read picture books to the lower level students.  The lower level students viewed their book buddies read-aloud, and left a response. This process continued throughout the academic year.

Digital Book Buddies was a new concept to my schools this year.  It took over, was very easy to implement, and was something the teachers and students alike enjoyed tremendously.  

Authorship Information:

Becky Poljac is a technology integrator in Chesterfield County Public Schools.  She currently supports two elementary schools within the county. She is a graduate of James Madison University and Virginia Tech!  Go DUKES and Go HOKIES! In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, gardening, and running at a mediocre pace. You can follow her on Twitter @techybecky50.

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