Brethren students team up on writing project

 

Courtesy photo Students from the Brethren Schools second and eighth grade classes recently teamed up on a project using Bare Books to help create stories. The younger students wrote the stories with the assistance from their older "buddies" and then entered them in a blank book. The older students helped learn mentoring skills from the project while the younger ones worked on their English language arts skills.

Courtesy photo
Students from the Brethren Schools second and eighth grade classes recently teamed up on a project using Bare Books to help create stories. The younger students wrote the stories with the assistance from their older “buddies” and then entered them in a blank book. The older students helped learn mentoring skills from the project while the younger ones worked on their English language arts skills.

BRETHREN — It’s a proven fact that younger children in a school often emulate the habits of their older counterparts.

That is why Brethren Middle School teacher Rachel Edmondson and second grade teacher Jennifer Cordes have joined forces in an interesting project to improve the English language arts skills of the younger students and the mentoring skills of the older ones.

The project they have been working on is the Bare Books project, which involves the younger students receiving blank books to write a story to work on their writing and English skills. However, in this instance they do it with the assistance of their older mentors.

“We have been doing the Bare Books for a long time and actually the whole school system has been doing it with the Young Authors program,” said Cordes. “Every year I have tried to do it differently and some years it is just difficult to get the necessary attention my students need.”

That was when she came up with the mentor concept. Cordes said several years ago when Kaleva Norman Dickson Schools combined into one school building instead of three, it opened up the opportunity for a mentor program.

“We thought that might be a great opportunity to get the older kids to help out the younger ones on this program,” she said. “It gives my students extra attention they need.”

Edmondson said that they have experimented with different grade levels to find the best fit.

“We have done seniors, and the last couple of years it has been eighth grade,” she said. “That is where it really seems like the age gap between the two groups isn’t so wide. It makes the friendship a little better than doing it with the older kids and works well.”

Edmondson said her middle school students really enjoy working with their younger buddies.

“My kids love it,” she said. “It is so neat as a teacher to just walk around and listen to the exchanges between the two age levels. We primarily are just guiding the kids and they are doing the rest. I often hear my kids using the same language that I use in the classroom. It just shows that there is that learning full circle for both the second and eighth graders.”

Edmondson said what amazed her was this year, her students really sounded like teachers.

“This group has really taken ownership to what we are doing and take great pride in it,” she said.

The two groups paired up once a week for three weeks, and the last week they met twice. Both teachers agreed that during the time the two groups were together it formed some strong bonds.

“They will often say things like ‘my buddy is on my bus’ and it is really neat to hear those things,” said Cordes. “When they had a little extra time they were working with spelling words or writing a different story together. The eighth grade stepped right up an said ‘whatever we need to do we will do it.'”

She added that none of the kids had any problems at either end.

“They would ask almost every day if they were meeting with their buddies,” said Cordes.

Edmondson said her older students helped type up the stories  and then forwarded them to Cordes to review. Then they put the stories in the Bare Books and illustrated them.

Cordes added that at the end of the program they have plans for some fun.

“All of them are going to share the final products of what the book looks like, and then we are going to have a treat,” she said. “It has been a good experience, and I don’t want to do Bare Books any other way.”

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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