Peer tutoring was found to be an effective tool for teaching those with learning disabilities to read (Fuchs, Fuchs, and Saenz, 2005). This research supports the use of struggling readers in the first grade for the group that receives the tutoring. First graders that are enrolled in the program are already labeled as learning disabled. Whether their difficulty in reading is caused by an organic deficiency, or an emotional problem, intervention by way of peer tutoring will help to reduce its effects.
Strengthening mentor programs is an essential part of the equation when it comes to academic performance (King, et al., 2002). A strong mentoring program has many benefits for individual students, but it also has benefits for the school as well, including improved overall academic perforce and a decrease in school violence.
Peer mentoring programs were found to be better than intervention programs that used a teacher, especially if the teacher has a heavy workload (Otaiba, et al., 2001). Children felt an immediate connection win another student in peer mentor programs. These programs had a dramatic effect on academic success in those students that need us the most (Chard and Kameenui, 2000)..
The focus of any reading intervention programs should be on the student (Hasbrouck, et al., 2007). In the past programs were designed around ease for the teacher. However, now we realize that if the student does not feel that they connect with the teacher, any strategy to win him over will be futile. The student must feel a connection to the school and the person that they are tutoring in order to put forth the effort to succeed. Peer mediation was found to be an important force for developing fluency in reading as well, as the skills necessary to read on a basic level (Fuchs, et al., 2001).
In summary, the literature review revealed that self-esteem is the key to many areas of success in life. Children that do not have high self-esteem are more likely to engage in behavior problems than those with high self-esteem. Self-esteem was found to be a key factor in productivity as well. There is overwhelming evidence to support the use Tall Buddies as a means to boost self-esteem. Self- esteem is an important factor in the ability of the student to learn to read better and to improve all-around academic performance.
There were a number of academic studies mention in the literature review the directly link self-esteem and behavior problems. These studies support the necessity of using methods in Tall Buddies to boot self-esteem in order to improve academic performance and reduce behavior problems in school. High self-esteem boosts the student's perception that they are capable of meeting the challenges ahead of them.
The literature review also supports the necessity to develop as sense of connectedness in the school body. Where self-esteem boosts a feeling of capability, a sense of connectedness with the school boosts a student's motivation to succeed. A sense of connectedness was found to be important factor in preventing school violence and more serious behavioral problems. Students that commit violent acts against schools often have the feeling that they are an outsider. Tall Buddies increases student's sense of connectedness so that the school and the student can reap the maximum benefit from the program.
Literature demonstrates that peer-tutoring programs have a high rate of success, as opposed to adult interventions. Programs that use positive reinforcement are more likely to produce better results than those that rely on punishment to prevent bad behavior. Humans respond to reward much more quickly than to negative commentary and threats. Tall Buddies will boost the self-esteem of the 6th grader and that of their 1st grade Small Buddies.
Section 3: Procedure
Development/Approval of Project
Inspiration for this project stemmed from my experience as a Curriculum Support Teacher. I was inspired in 2005 by a very difficult group of 5th graders that would soon be going into the 6th grade. Teachers continually complained about low test scores due to discipline problems with this group of students. While reading the book. "Cooperative Discipline" by Linda Albert, I developed the idea that if we could focus on building relationships with this group of 5th graders, then the discipline problems might decrease. Albert's book presented the idea that if students feel capable, connected, and that they are contributing members of the school, then behavior problems disappear.
With this concept in mind, I began to develop a plan to help with six major behavior problems that teachers were experiencing. I wanted to develop a concrete plan to make the students feel capable, connected, and that they were contributing members of the school environment. Tall Buddies was the result of these efforts.
How was the project developed?
This project was developed through a need to improve behaviors in 6th graders and reading skills in 1st graders. The Tall Buddy program was developed in an attempt to accomplish both of these goals at once. It was inspired through the reading of "Cooperative Discipline" by Linda Albert. Development of this project relied on the idea the 6th graders were capable of helping 1st graders. They already have their reading skill set developed and helping other struggling students might help them to feel more at ease.
Who did you involve in the developmental process and why?
In order to make Tall Buddies a success, I needed to enlist the help of teachers to determine which students might benefit the most from the program. Collectively, we decided that students with low self-esteem could benefit from the program the most. I knew that I could maintain at least 10 students throughout the program, but I needed to enlist other non-behaviorally challenged students as well. Teachers aided in this decision and offered their support for the program.
Permission to implement the program had to be obtained from school principal, Marcie Nichols. This program would take approximately 30-40 minutes of time four days a week. Teachers were consulted to determine if they thought that Tall Buddies would be a good use of this additional time. They agreed with the principal that the Tall Buddies program would be time well spent. In order for the project to be a success, we had to take our time with the sixth graders. They had to feel that they were capable of doing the tasks required of them.
How will it be implemented in other schools.
The Tall Buddy program is highly adaptable to a number of school settings and situations. It was designed to be customized to the individual needs of the school systems. It is designed for elementary schools, first through sixth grade. Schools can exercise creativity in the design of their Tall Buddy tutoring program. The Tall Buddy program includes instructions to prepare for and begin a school-based tutoring program for reading. It includes instructions for how to select 6th graders and 1st graders that meet the criteria of the program. It also includes lessons and materials designed to help teach 6th graders how to tutor 1st graders.
Training of the 6th Graders is of utmost importance. Tutoring requires knowledge of proper technique. The goal of the program is to produce tutors that are effective at improving reading skills. Many 6th graders might have the skills to read themselves, but teaching someone else requires a certain skill set that they might not have. The training of 6th graders needs to be monitored carefully so that they know how to train the necessary skills to their small Buddy. This is an essential element to the success of the program. If the 6th graders do not know how to teach reading, their small buddies will never improve.
After the 6th graders successfully complete training, they will meet with their Small Buddy 3 days a week. One day a week the Tall Buddy trainer will meet with the Tall Buddies for debriefing, celebrations and further training. This meeting serves several purposes. First, is helps to build the relationship between the Tall Buddies and the trainer. Secondly, it allows the Tall Buddy time to bring up any questions or concerns that they might have in the training of their Small Buddy. This meeting will also build confidence and give the trainer an excellent chance to provide positive reinforcement and to offer encouragement. The weekly meeting will give the trainer a chance to monitor the program to assure that it is progressing smoothly.
Another aspect of training that is necessary is to assure that Small Buddies are treated respectfully by their Tall Buddies. It cannot be assumed that all Tall Buddies are aware of the basic rules of interaction, especially since they may have behavioral issues. Trainers need to make certain that Tall Buddies know how to behave appropriately around their Small Buddies. They need to learn appropriate behavior like how to pick up kids politely and respectfully to and from…