by Anna Gratz Cockerille
In most reading and writing units, students work in partnerships to support and extend their work. Over time, even very young students can learn to turn to a partner as the first line of defense when trouble arises. When they encounter a tricky word in their reading, for example, they can ask a partner for help rather than running to a teacher. Or, when they aren’t sure what to write about, they can ask a partner to spend a couple of minutes brainstorming. As Lucy Calkins writes in A Guide to the Reading Workshop: Primary Grades, “Partner time is designed to give young readers a second wind, renewing their energy to continue on” (p. 52). The same is true for young writers, too. With a bit of extra instruction and time, partners can learn to act as confidantes, sounding boards, and cheerleaders for each other, spurring each other on to do their best work.