Buddy up for literacy

A partnership between Columbia Public Schools and the MU College of Education and Human Development is helping first graders read while providing real-world classroom teaching experience for Tigers.

Feb. 9, 2024  

The newest buddy system in Columbia Public Schools connects University of Missouri juniors with first grade students for mutual growth and learning.

Tiger Reading Buddies, which was designed by MU’s Angie Zapata, an associate professor of Language and Literacies Education in the Department of Learning, Teaching and Curriculum, and coordinated by Nicole Bliven, focuses on one-on-one reading assessment and instruction.

“This type of practice model helps pre-service teachers realize the complexity of teaching reading to a classroom full of students with various instructional needs,” said Zapata. “The research shows that these intensive, reading-focused experiences will influence their future teaching in the classroom, so we really appreciate the host teachers and administrators in Columbia Public Schools for their partnership.”

The program is funded by the Literacy Path Forward initiative from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Dr. Lydia Walker Faculty Fellowship in Reading and Literacy.

 “I was so excited to see my buddy every week because he was always full of joy and ready to learn. He taught me something different about Minecraft every week,” said Sophia Marshall, who mentored a student at Parkade Elementary School. “He was so engaging with the activities we did every week, and I learned how I could better help him. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn so much and grow as an educator.”

Read more from the College of Education and Human Development 

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