Cross-Grade Study Buddies

District: Lowell Area Schools Building: Alto Elementary
Teacher(s): Rachel Millhisler (and Hughes 1st Grade)
Main Contact: Rachel Millhisler Email:
Grade Level: 4th Subject(s): ELA, Math
First Trimester:            Second Trimester:    x Third Trimester:   x
First Semester:           Second Semester:               All Year:


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Project Overview

Give a brief overview of the project you are planning.

Our two classes will meet every other week to work on math and reading skills. Fourth graders will be partnered with a first grader. Each time we meet, there will be a focused skill we are working on: fact families, counting money, reading, adding, subtracting, listening skills, etc.


Effective Practice: MEANINGFUL SERVICE

Service learning actively engages participants in meaningful and personally relevant service activities.

What community need will you address and how did you determine the need?

Test data shows a need to increase math and reading skills in the younger students and math skills in the older ones. This project will reinforce math skills for both grade levels, develop leadership skills in older students and strengthen reading skills in younger students. This also supports character education.

What service will you provide to address the need?

Older students will work with younger students to help them increase their skills in math and reading.


Effective Practice: LINK TO CURRICULUM

Service learning is intentionally used as an instructional strategy to meet learning goals and/or content standards.

How is this project related to your curriculum?

This project relates to the Fourth Grade curriculum in math, Language Arts; speaking, reading and listening.

What are the educational goals?

• Reinforcing math skills for both grade levels.
• Development of leadership skills in older students.
• Strengthening reading skills in younger students.
• Character education.


Curriculum Crafter Connections

Strand: 04 ELA: Reading Foundational Skills
TLW: Read with sufficient accuracy ad fluency to support comprehension. (Gist: Fluency)

Additional State Standards and Benchmarks

List standards and benchmarks met by this project.

Fourth Grade:

Math – N.FL.04.08 Add and subtract whole numbers fluently

Language Arts – R.AT.04.01 Be enthusiastic about reading and learning how to read

Speaking – S.DS.04.04 Delivering presentations orally

Listening – L.CN.04.02 Listen and interact appropriately and view knowledgably in small and large group settings.


Effective Practice: REFLECTION

Service learning incorporates multiple challenging reflection activities that are ongoing and that prompt deep thinking and analysis about oneself and one’s relationship to society.

What form(s) of reflection will you use with the students to help them identify what they have learned and accomplished?

Class discussions and journaling.


Effective Practice: DIVERSITY

Service learning promotes understanding of diversity and mutual respect among all participants.

What types of diverse perspectives and experiences will be explored as part of your project?

(i.e.: cultural, generational, abilities/disabilities, learning styles, etc)

Age and ability will be addressed through class discussions on how to work with younger students who may or may not have mile disabilities. Students will learn to be compassionate and patient realizing that different grades have very different capabilities.


Effective Practice: YOUTH VOICE

Service learning provides youth with a strong voice in planning, implementing, and evaluating service learning experiences with guidance from adults.

How will students gain ownership of the project?

Students will be able to share ideas for activities to do with their buddy, choose a book to read to their buddy, and be the leader/teacher for their buddy.



Service learning partnerships are collaborative, mutually beneficial, and address community needs.

Who will you partner with for this project?

First grade students are the partners for this project.

How will students benefit from this partnership?

By working with the younger students, the older students reinforce their fluency of reading and math basics. They also develop leadership skills and character by acting as role models to the younger students.

How will the partner benefit from this collaboration?

The younger students will benefit by extended learning opportunities in Math and ELA by working with their older role models.



Service learning engages participants in an ongoing process to assess the quality of implementation and progress toward meeting specified goals, and uses results for improvement and sustainability.

How will you assess the student learning goals?

Observation of the Fourth grade students’ interaction with their buddies and confidence in math and reading skills.

How will you assess your service goals?

First graders progress in their reading and math



Service learning has sufficient duration and intensity to address community needs and meet specified outcomes.

How will you prepare students for this experience?

We will discuss the importance of reading and math as it relates to all subject areas in school. Becoming strong readers is important for overall school success. We will also discuss ways to make reading fun, how to work best with the younger students, and the character traits the older students will demonstrate through this project.

What are some sample possible activities students might do as part of this project?

The two classes will meet for 30 minutes every other week during the second and third trimesters of the year.

Each time we meet, there will be a focused skill we are working on:
• fact families
• counting money
• reading
• adding
• subtracting
• listening skills