Last week, fifth-grade students and seniors partnered together during a unique multi-faceted project. Bringing together both English and science, fifth-grade students completed a storybook and worked with English Composition seniors to receive feedback on their creative writing.

“This year in fifth grade we are learning sentence structure, parts of speech, grammar, and syntax and in science, we are studying extreme weather, so we provided a fun opportunity to bring these two subjects together,” explained Miss Gwinn, a fifth-grade teacher. “We assigned each student the task of writing and illustrating a 10-page children’s storybook with the theme ‘When I Brought My Weather Home’. We want them to think creatively, combine the different subjects they are learning, and have the opportunity to work with someone older than them.”

Each fifth-grade student was matched with a senior in hopes that they would be stretched academically and socially. The seniors were given the opportunity to teach and work with someone much younger than them.

“The seniors were excited to help the fifth graders with their stories,” shared Mrs. Sonnenburg, the English Composition teacher. “It helped them become better leaders since the fifth graders look up to them, whether they realize it or not. The seniors had to lead the conversation and guide the fifth graders through the editing process. It was encouraging to see the students work together to edit their work, but something unexpected was the sweet connections and conversations happening after their work was done as they got to know each other. Some even added each other on the video game Fortnight!”


After the seniors edited the fifth graders’ work, they were able to chat and get to know each other. The time was closed out by having the seniors read their buddy’s story to the class. This was a great example to the fifth graders of public speaking and presentation.

“In my English Composition class, students have been peer editing each other’s work all semester, and to have them work on a project with a younger student was a welcomed change of pace,” continued Mrs. Sonnenburg. “Learning by teaching helps solidify for my students what we are doing in class and puts them in the driver’s seat. In Richard D. Mayer’s book Applying the Science of Learning, he claims, ‘If students feel confident enough to explain [content] to someone else, they might develop a higher self-efficacy. That’s going to be motivating to see themselves as competent learners.’ It was encouraging to see this firsthand at SCCS.”

Fifth graders were encouraged to clearly communicate their thought process to their senior buddy, and they received helpful feedback.

“It was a sweet opportunity for the younger students to get to know the older students and have an opportunity to build a relationship with a different age group,” continued Miss Gwinn. “My students are now thrilled to be taking their knowledge and experience to the second-grade buddies they will be paired with next.”