Teacher’s pet: Anne Arundel County teacher’s dog assists with virtual learning

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Looks like a lesson on entomology for Bear, fifth-grade teacher Becky Hamilton’s dog. Hamilton has incorporated appearances of Bear into online learning to increase student engagement — and to let kids just have a bit of fun seeing him on screen and chatting about his antics.

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Bear looking cute. Four-year-old Bear belongs to fifth-grade teacher Becky Hamilton.

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Bear and fifth-grade teacher Becky Hamilton taking that first day photo for Pershing Hill Elementary’s start of school.

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Bear seems to have some deep thoughts about the day’s reading with fifth-grade teacher Becky Hamilton.

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Teachers at Pershing Hill Elementary in Anne Arundel County created bitmojis — Mrs. Hamilton’s features Bear, her golden retriever.

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One Anne Arundel County, Maryland, fifth-grade teacher found a great resource for bringing lessons to life right at her feet: her dog, Bear.

Teachers are always looking for ways to keep kids engaged in the day’s lessons, and that’s especially true in the era of virtual learning.

Becky Hamilton, who teaches language arts and social studies at Pershing Hill Elementary, found that her 4-year-old golden retriever made quite an impression on the kids.

During an online session last week, she said, “I actually called him up to my lap so the kids could see him in the camera,” and the shrieks of joy from delighted children followed.

Hamilton said Bear has just what it takes to enliven an online lesson because he knows a number of tricks.

“He’s got what I call a typical golden retriever personality, where he is just a ham. He’s so full of himself,” she said with a laugh.

And Bear provides a great prompt for creative writing. Hamilton will display a photo of Bear on screen and ask the kids to imagine what he’s thinking as a writing exercise.

Hamilton said parents may worry that online learning is leaving their kids with rusty reading skills. She suggests having kids read for fun — even comic books.

“Let them read what they want, and hopefully that will encourage them to read more, and they will start opening up to a variety of different texts,” Hamilton said. “Because if they don’t like what they read, they won’t read it.”

She also suggested things, such as taking your child to the library and taking out the same book and reading together, almost like a book club. Or, she said, have your child read a page, then you read a page.

Every family can run into struggles with online learning, but Hamilton said, “It’s a matter of keeping a sense of humor and being patient — those are my two pieces of advice.”


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