English Class fifth graders spent two lessons last week planning and designing tasks for their first grade peer pals to complete. The fifth grade pupils created games, crosswords, word-searches and colour-by-numbers tasks for the first graders to work on on Tuesday of this week when English Class teachers had their inservice training session.
It was a challenge for the fifth graders to produce appropriate materials at a level for first graders. The fifth graders put a great deal of thought into the materials that they prepared.
The atmosphere in the classroom on Tuesday was delightful as the younger pupils explored the tasks that had been made specifically for them.
The fifth grade peer pals observed and provided support when necessary as the first graders explored their given tasks.
Working in mixed-aged groups like this has a number of benefits. The primary benefits are “pro-social” behavior: helping, sharing, and taking turns, for example.
Younger children model their behavior on our more socialized older pupils and our older pupils are generally helpful and kind to younger pupils.
Peer pal mentors make young children feel safe and accepted at school. Activities like this lead to dynamic academic benefits. When younger pupils receive tutoring from older children, the older children gain the “teacher” benefit: by explaining a concept to someone else, they better understand and internalize the concept themselves. It is another win-win situation.