During the past year of tutoring, the Buddies4Math program grew to also include more reading in our weekly sessions. We began reading longer pieces of writing and books. We soon found that it was difficult for the students to stay engaged and interested. The Reading List Project was created to improve this very problem of integrating reading to keep the students motivated, excited, and attentive to the reading. 
Every week, our Reading List Project meets to compile and curate a series of short stories, poems, and articles for the given week of a session. Each week’s materials are related to a theme chosen for that week that often corresponds to a significant event or date nearest to it. Our past themes for the weekly plans have been Global Warming/Environment, Art/Creativity, Science/Technology, and this week with Fall/Seasons. We strive to cover a wide variety of diverse topics that expose the students to many different fields and possible passions. Through reading short stories, articles, and poems–all different styles of writing–may the students also be exposed to diverse forms of writing and creative expression. Within every weekly plan, we include a section of materials for second and third graders and for fourth and fifth graders. Additionally, we include reading comprehension questions that can periodically be asked and a short summary of the writing so the students can choose the piece they want to read. To take a break from the more educationally focused themes so far, this week we have focused on seasons/fall–which also corresponds to the projected date of the specific list. Some of our tutors have shared their experiences and thoughts on working on this project:

I was excited last year to teach reading in Buddies4Math sessions, but I soon found out that the students didn’t really share my enthusiasm. Part of the problem was that sessions were a week apart, so students rarely remembered what we had read in the week before. I would ask, “Does anyone remember what this book is about?” or “Where did we leave off last week?” and no one would be able to answer. That meant the students were losing a lot of nuance in terms of story progression and character development, and weren’t able to connect to the stories very well, since the books were coming to them in disjointed fragments each week.

When the summer started, I was eager to start planning a reading program where students could read a complete story and be able to analyze them in their entirety. Being part of the Reading List project also exposes a lot of the fine details of teaching, since I now have to ask myself, will this short story inspire students to be better people? Will students understand this level of reading? It can be hard to figure out exactly what students are and aren’t capable of doing, but I like to believe that if we challenge them with difficult reading, students will learn not only English skills, but also how to overcome and surpass failure.


When we first began incorporating reading into our tutoring program I was excited to see that we now could aid the students in finding fun and passion in reading. As someone who had difficulty seeing the enjoyment in reading when I was younger, it felt like the perfect opportunity to do what someone had done for me. However, it soon became evident that with every week that had passed, their desire to read lessened. When reading small fragments of chapter books in a short period of time, it denied the students of what made the reading great, from the character and plot development to watching the book unfold. Now in the Reading List Project, I get to aid in transforming how the students will experience reading. Being a part of the project has meant that you have to step into the shoes of the student and deeply think about how we can interest and engage them in reading. While we have overcome our own adversity in finding adequate reading material that is diverse, it has taught me as a tutor about how we must step into the perspective of the student in order to support them in their journey of learning. 


When the school year started and we began reading in our sessions, we thought it would provide a welcome change. We decided to begin with chapter books such as Wonder or Out of my Mind. However, as the sessions continued, we noticed that the students began to lose interest in the books. Many of the times they would turn their cameras off and wouldn’t respond to the comprehension questions. This raised some concern as to how we can improve the sessions to better accommodate their needs. As a result, the Reading List project was created to find shorter reading material that would interest the students. We believe that the reason for the lack of interest was due to the inability to follow along the story over the school year. So, our challenge over the summer is to find short articles, stories, and poems that can be finished during one session. We then wrote a short summary of the material and a couple of reading comprehension questions to make sure they’re following along. I think this whole process has taught me a lot about the students’ needs and their ways of learning. I learned a lot about their interests and how to revise lesson plans to accommodate everyone. I’m looking forward to the next school year and using these new reading materials with them