Use the Educator's Guide as a reference throughout your experience with the AIM Buddy Program, as it provides step-by-step help for both the older and younger kids. It also includes a teacher checklist and plenty of extra information to make the curriculum go smoothly, including discussion and activity suggestions and what to do with early finishers. The guide is over 100 pages long and includes plenty of guidance and support for preparing for this program as well as ideas on how to best pair up buddies, how to implement the program, and how to wrap it all up at the end.
If your students aren't already familiar with the Arthur show, consider reading an Arthur book or watching an episode ahead of time, so that your students can become familiar with the characters. You may also choose to show the corresponding Arthur episode before each relevant unit. As part of each unit, you might want to read some of the recommended books in the Guide's appendix, which carry on the themes from the lessons.
Make it clear to your students that the classroom needs to be treated as a safe environment so that all students, Little and Big Buddies alike, feel free to safely share their personal experiences with each other, if desired, as they go through the lessons. Then continue this practice throughout the school year, watching for opportunities to refer back to these lessons. Continue to weave in examples from the lessons whenever applicable to reinforce learning, and try to continue the relationships between the older and younger students in some form.
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The AIM Buddy Project (Arthur Interactive Media Buddy Project) is a research-based social and emotional learning (SEL) program that pairs up students in elementary school from different grades to work through the program together. They use the familiar Arthur television show as the context for learning lessons in five units: empathy, honesty, forgiveness, generosity, and learning from others. Each of these units includes an interactive story or game based on an actual Arthur episode.
Throughout each story or game, there are checkpoints for Big and Little Buddies to pause and discuss what's happening, what the characters might be feeling or thinking, how the characters might want to change their behaviors, and how to resolve conflicts and maintain good relationships. Students get a glimpse into characters' thoughts and are challenged to come up with good solutions. They're encouraged not only to consider how the characters feel at certain points, but also to figure out how they know what they know, such as what clues or words give a character's feelings or intentions away. Students also get to try out several different story endings, including some "wrong" choices, and to finish the stories from different characters' perspectives.
The program stretches over 20 classroom sessions that include buddy-prep sessions, topic sessions (with the five units), and wrap-up sessions. For some of the sessions, students will be in their own classroom, and for some, they'll be paired up with their Buddy. The program includes an extremely detailed Educator's Guide to help teachers and schools through the process, and teachers can assign using Google Classroom.
The AIM Buddy Project focuses on students' social, emotional, and character development. It breaks down situations revolving around the five main topics (empathy, honesty, forgiveness, generosity, and learning from others) into their component parts, making it easy for students to get to the root of the issues and see where the characters went wrong. Students learn both self- and social awareness; by pairing up with a buddy of a different age, each student has a new opportunity to both learn from the other buddy and teach them in return. Students practice their communication skills by talking with their buddy as the story or game progresses, and they can choose the direction of the story and the ending together. Little Buddies gain confidence expressing themselves, and Big Buddies act as mentors and learn to support their Little Buddy. Big Buddies learn to break down concepts into simpler pieces, and Little Buddies practice verbalizing their thoughts and feelings. The program puts the Buddies in the driver's seat to take control of the lesson and participate as a pair. Some sessions at the beginning of the program help the Buddies get to know each other before beginning the main lessons.
Because of the nature of the program and its ability to step through situations scene by scene, it's easy for students to talk with each other and analyze what's going on. This allows for discussions on familiar topics, questions to be asked back and forth, and sharing reflections on characters' feelings, behaviors, perspectives, and motivations. Students learn to see situations from different perspectives both by seeing characters' inner thoughts and by discussing the story with their Buddy. This can help students to recognize these situations when they come up in real life, where they'll now have the tools to make good choices and encourage others to do the same, all while mending and maintaining relationships.
Key Standards Supported
Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal precise actions, emotions, or states of being (e.g., quizzed, whined, stammered) and that are basic to a particular topic (e.g., wildlife, conservation, and endangered when discussing animal preservation).
Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
Ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.
Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.
Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.
Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.
Acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading dialogue aloud.
Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.
Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.
Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).
Compare and contrast the point of view from which different stories are narrated, including the difference between first- and third-person narrations.
Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.
Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).
Speaking & Listening
Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.
Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to gather additional information or clarify something that is not understood.
Describe people, places, things, and events with relevant details, expressing ideas and feelings clearly.
Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation.
Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.
Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to clarify comprehension, gather additional information, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue.
Tell a story or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking audibly in coherent sentences.
Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification.
Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 4 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.
Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
Summarize a written text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
Report on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.
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