Elementary school partners

First Grade-Sixth Grade Partners

Sixth Graders are shown a videotaped segment of their own experiences as First Graders. This leads to a discussion of their recollections while they were in first grade working with their sixth grade partners. First and sixth grade teachers pair their two classes based on reading ability, trying to pair students with similar reading ability.

Title III Technology Literacy Challenge Grant

Learning Unit

LU Title: First Grade-Sixth Grade PartnersAuthor(s): Beth Roberts, John Schmidt
Grade Level:  First and SixthSchool Address:Dolgeville Central School
Topic/Subject Area: Cooperative LearningSchool Phone: 315-429-9260

Content Knowledge

Students will know and understand:what they have in common with each other and how they are different despite age differences.Students will be able to:complete an interview sheet
  how to complete a form, compose a letter, and use the Internet.  go to a predetermined web site and complete a framed letter.
how to listen, read, write, and follow directions using cooperative strategies to make a completed project.  make an art project reading and following given directions and write a brief story.
how to read, listen, and complete a book report form that includes and evaluation.  read, discuss, and evaluate a book.

Essential Questions

How well can First and Sixth Graders work cooperatively to collaborate on reading, writing and art-related activities?
How can Sixth Graders self-esteem be improved?
How well can Sixth Graders recognize and appreciate differences in First Graders?

Connections to NYS Learning Standards

English Language Arts (ELA)

Standard 1

Students will read, write, listen, and speak for information and understanding. As listeners and readers, students will collect data, facts, and ideas; discover relationships, concepts and generalizations; and used knowledge generated from oral, written, and electronically produced texts.  As speakers and writers, they will use oral and written language to acquire, interpret, apply and transmit information.

1.Listening and reading to acquire information and understanding involves collecting data, facts, and ideas, discovering relationships, concepts, and generalizations; and using knowledge from oral, written, and electronic sources.


  • gather and interpret information from children’s reference books, magazines, textbooks, electronic bulletin boards, audio and media presentations, oral interviews, and from such forms as charts, graphs, maps, and diagrams.
  • select information appropriate to the purpose of their investigation and relate ideas from one text to another
  • select and use strategies they have been taught for notetaking, organizing, and categorizing information  
  • ask specific questions to clarify and extend meaning
  • make appropriate and effective use of strategies to construct meaning from print, such as prior knowledge about subject, structural and context clues, and an understanding of letter-sound relationships to decode difficult words
  • support inferences about information and ideas with reference to text features, such as vocabulary and organizational patterns.

2. Speaking and writing to acquire and transmit information requires asking probing and clarifying questions, interpreting information in one’s own words, applying information from one context to another, and presenting the information and interpretation clearly, concisely and comprehensibly.


  • present information clearly in a variety of oral and written forms such as summaries, paraphrases, brief reports, stories, posters, and charts
  • select a focus, organization, and point of view for oral and written presentations use a few traditional structures for conveying information such as chronological order, cause an effect, and similarity and difference
  • use details, examples, anecdotes, or personal experiences to explain or clarify information
  • include relevant information and exclude extraneous material
  • use the process of pre-writing, drafting, revising, and proofreading (the “writing process”) to produce well-constructed informational texts
  • observe basic writing conventions, such as correct spelling, punctuation, and capitalization, as well as sentence and paragraph structure appropriate to written forms.

Standard 2

Students will read, write, listen, and speak for literary response and expression.  Students will read and listen to oral, written, and electronically produced texts and performances, relate texts and performances to their own lives, and develop an understanding of the diverse social, historical, and cultural dimensions the texts and performances represent.  As speakers and writers, students will use oral and written language for self-expression and artistic creation.

1. Listening and reading for literary response involves comprehending, interpreting, and critiquing imaginative texts in every medium, drawing on personal experiences and knowledge to understand the text, and recognizing the social, historical and cultural features of the text.


  • read a variety of literature of different genres: picture books; poems; articles and stories from children’s magazines; fables, myths and legends; songs, plays and media productions; and works of fiction and nonfiction intended for young readers
  • recognize some features that distinguish the genres and use those features to aid comprehension
  • understand the literary elements of setting, character, plot, theme, and point of view and compare those features to other works and to their own lives
  • use inference and deduction to understand the text
  • read aloud accurately and fluently, using phonics and context cues to determine pronunciation and meaning
  • evaluate literary meaning

2. Speaking and writing for literary response involves presenting interpretations, analyses, and reaction to the content and language of a text. Speaking and writing for literary expression involves producing imaginative texts that use language and text structures that are inventive and often multilayered.


  • present personal responses to literature that make reference to the plot, characters, ideas, vocabulary, and text structure
  • explain the meaning of literary works with some attention to meanings beyond the literal level
  • create their own stories, poems, and songs using the elements of the literature they have read and appropriate vocabulary
  • observe the conventions of grammar and usage, spelling, and punctuation.

Standard 3

Students will read, write, listen, and speak for critical analysis and evaluation. As listeners and readers, students will analyze experiences, ideas, information, and issues presented by others using a variety of established criteria. As speakers and writers, they will present, in oral and written language and from a variety of perspectives, their opinions and judgements on experiences, ideas, information and issues.

1. Listening and reading to analyze and evaluate experiences, ideas, information, and issues requires using evaluative criteria from a variety of perspectives and recognizing the difference in evaluations based on different sets of criteria.


  • read and form opinions about a variety of literary and informational texts and presentations, as well as persuasive texts such as advertisements, commercials, and letters to the editor
  • make decisions about the quality and dependability of texts and experiences based on some criteria, such as the attractiveness of the illustrations and appeal of the characters in a picture book, or logic and believability of the claims made in an advertisement
  • recognize that the criteria that one uses to analyze and evaluate anything depend on one’s point of view and purpose for the analysis
  • evaluate their own strategies for reading and listening critically (such as recognizing bias or false claims, and understanding the differences between fact and opinion) and adjust those strategies to understand the experience more fully.

2. Speaking and writing for critical analysis and evaluation requires presenting opinions and judgments on experiences, ideas, information, and issues clearly, logically, and persuasively with reference to specific criteria on which the opinion or judgment is based.


  • express opinions (in such forms as oral and written reviews, letters to the editor, essays, or persuasive speeches) about events, books, issues, and experiences, supporting their opinions with some evidence
  • present arguments for certain views or actions with reference to specific criteria that support the,argument (e.g., an argument to purchase a particular piece of playground equipment might be,based on the criteria of safety, appeal to children, durability, and low cost.)
  • monitor and adjust their own oral and written presentations to meet criteria for competent performance (e.g., in writing, the criteria might include development of position, organization, appropriate vocabulary, mechanics, and neatness. In speaking, the criteria might include good content, effective delivery, diction, posture, poise, and eye contact).
  • use effective vocabulary and follow the rules of grammar, usage, spelling, and punctuation in persuasive writing.

Math, Science, and Technology (MST)

Standard 2

Students will access, generate, process, and transfer information using appropriate technologies.

1. Information technology is used to retrieve, process, and communicate information and as a tool to enhance learning.


  • use a variety of equipment and software packages to enter, process, display, and communicate information on different forma, using text, tables, pictures, and sound
  • telecommunicate a message to a distant location with teacher help.
  • access needed information from printed media, electronic data bases, and community resources.

Social Studies

Standard 3

Geography-Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of the geography of interdependent work in which we live-local, national, and global-including the distribution of people, places, and environments over the Earth’s surface.

1.Geography can be divided into six essential elements which can be used to analyze important historical, geographic, economic, and environmental questions and issues. These six elements include: the world in spatial terms, places and regions, physical settings(including natural resources), human systems and society, and the use of geography. (Adapted from The National Geography  Standards, 1994: Geography for Life)


  • study about how people live, work, and utilize natural resources
  • draw maps and diagrams that serve as representations of places, physical features, and objects
  • locate places within the local community, State, and nation; locate the Earth’s continents in relation to each other and to principal parallels and meridians. (Adapted from The National Geography Standards, 1994)
  • investigate how people depend on and modify the physical environment.

The Arts

Standard 3

Students will be knowledgeable about and make use of the materials and resources available for participation in the arts in various roles

Initiating Activity

To initiate this experience, Sixth Graders are shown a videotaped segment of their own experiences as First Graders which leads to a discussion of their recollections while they were in first grade working with their sixth grade partners. In the meantime, first and sixth grade teachers are pairing their two classes based on reading ability trying to pair students with similar reading ability.  The First Graders will go to the Sixth Grade classroom with their teacher.  Sixth Graders will already have their partner’s name and will introduce themselves to their partner.

Learning Experiences

The Interview

Sixth grade students will be given a “Getting to Know You” sheet to do with their First Grade partner to acquaint them with each other. The First Grader will be interviewed by the Sixth Grader first and then the Sixth Grader will provide information about themselves. They will compare the two interviews to find what they have in common and what differences they have.

The Santa Letter

Sixth graders are given a paper to interview the First Grader, who will provide their name, age, address, behavior and what they would like for Christmas. The Sixth Grader fills this out. When this is completed, the Sixth Grader accesses the web site (www.emailsanta.com) to type in the information that has been provided on the paper. After they have typed in the information and sent it, an email is sent back answering the letter. They both are printed out and the Sixth Grader reads the letters to the First Grader. Then the First Grader is able to take the letters home to keep.

The Snowperson Activity

The Sixth Grader  is given a snowperson (outline of a snowman) and a direction sheet.  They must read the directions to the First Grader and decide who is going to do what part of making the snowperson.  When the project is completed, the students fill out the sheet naming the snowperson and what it likes.  They are put up on display in the hallway.

Buddy Reading

The First Grader or the Sixth Grader picks out a book to read which must be appropriate for a First Grader.  The Sixth Grader reads the book to the First Grader.   At the conclusion of reading the book, they fill out a book report form.  They are asked to write the title, author, illustrator, a brief synopsis of the book, and tell what the best part was.  They then illustrate what the best part was.  The two students then decide how they would rate the book on a scale of one star (worst) to five stars (best).  The forms are then collected and bound into a book for the students to share with each other.

Culminating Performance

For our culminating activity, First Graders and Sixth Graders will watch the videotape of themselves, finished products will be viewed, and Sixth Graders will complete an evaluation form based on their experiences throughout the year with their partners.

Unit Schedule and Time Plan

This is a full year, on-going program that includes the following four activities:

            October- Initial Meeting-Get Acquainted-Complete Interview Form

            December- Santa Letter

            January/February- Snow Person Activity

            March- Buddy Reading

Technology Use

Videotape of First and Sixth Graders used as introductory and culminating activities

Computer and Internet for Santa Letters

Further reading: How to Write a Lesson Plan: 7 Steps