A few months ago I attended a fantastic session on how teachers can do their own Action Research at an AISA conference. In the session, I decided that I wanted to see if teaching my 2nd grade students specific strategies for what to do when they get stuck would help raise their achievement. To make it easier to track progress, I would start by looking only at math and if the strategies did help, I would move towards also looking at other subjects.
How does the teddy bear fit in?
In addition to my session on Action Research at the conference, I also went to a session on Habits of the Mind with Karen Boyes (see her blog here). She gave me a number of fantastic ideas on how to develop these and one that stuck with me was using a teddy bear.
Talking out tough problems
As an adult, lots of my thinking is done silently, but when I really need to flesh out an idea or I am completely stumped, I need to discuss my thoughts orally. Although it is a priority for me to give students ample time to talk to each other about their ideas, there are situations in which a student is stuck and no one is available to work it out with them. That’s where the teddy bear comes in. Students can go over to him, sit at his desk and talk out their thinking. It feels a little silly at first, but it actually seems to work.
Practicing reading out loud to improve fluency
Although I’m not taking data on reading for my Action Research project, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to use our teddy bear in reading as well. Many of my students are English Language Learners and although their reading comprehension is coming along well, to read more fluently they more practice reading out loud than they are currently getting. While students read to self, I always take one student to read with and now our teddy bear does too. They sit with him in their favorite spot and read away, loving it and getting that extra practice they need.
Having a teddy bear is really fun
My students love him. They love him so much that they brought in an old school uniform so he matches the class, set up his desk with all of the materials any teacher could ever want and have even started talking about the possibility of him being alive after a student said she saw him blink.
Will the Teddy Bear Raise Achievement?
I will have to wait and find out, but I think his chances are good. And, whether or not he makes their math scores rise, he is making school an even more fun place to be, so he has definitely been worth the investment.
Has anyone had similar experiences with class stuffed animals or toys? If so please comment below.