Strategy

Peer Buddies

Peer Mentors, Social Groups

UDL 1.1 UDL 4.1

A peer buddy is a student or group of students who support a student with a disability to enhance or facilitate positive peer interactions, increase opportunities for socializing and help the student understand and negotiate his/her social landscape. A peer buddy is oftentimes an ambassador for the student with the disability and helps the student interpret the environment around him and socialize with others.

Implementation Tips

Class-wide Involvement
Oftentimes the peer buddies volunteer to help the student. A teacher might consider ways of getting the whole class involved in peer buddies or peer mentoring. Having ability-awareness lessons might be one way to involve the entire class.
Reflection Process
Incorporating reflection or lessons to think about the mentoring process might help some students to integrate their experiences and continue to support a student with a disability.
Teacher Presence
Adults still need to be available to support and facilitate peer buddies and the mentoring process. This helps both the mentor and the mentee to continue to develop skills and have success with interactions.
Autism
Use [[http://www.researchautism.org/resources/newsletters/archives/documents/10StepstoStartingAPeerSupporPrograminYourSchool.pdf|peer-supported training]] to help learners with ASD acquire communication/language and social skills. Start by training peers on how to respond and speak to students with ASD. Use a consistent time and location to minimize distractions. Select activities that the student with ASD enjoys and, when possible, facilitate activities on the floor which encourages natural responses and learning. Use prompts and reinforcements to coach both students (e.g., "Suggest a game to play", “Try talking about Taylor’s animals”) and decrease prompting and reinforcing as interactions become more comfortable.

Examples

Peer Mentors/Buddies
In elementary school, a teacher establishes a peer mentoring group for a student who needs extra support in engaging in physical activity and games during lunch and recess. The peer mentors think about how to involve the student, what games the student may want to play and other ways to encourage the student to participate. Prior to each lunch and recess, one of the peer buddies asks the student what game she would like to play and brings out the equipment necessary for the game.
Circle of Friends
A student has invited some of his peers to be part of his circle of friends. The circle of friends meets to talk about ways to support the student’s overall involvement at school and brainstorms ways that they can specifically help with this. One of the ideas is to have the student report the weather each day during morning announcements. One of the peers agrees to check in with the student about the weather each morning prior to the announcement.
Conversation Partners
As part of the morning meeting, the students have decided that they would like to have a conversation partner each day. At the beginning of the day, the teacher writes the conversation topic on the board. Each student pairs up with another student and discusses the topic. During the morning meeting, the student can volunteer to share what his/her conversation partner discussed.

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