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Implementation Insights: "Breakfast Buddies" with Marshall County

Shauna Hedgepeth May 24, 2024 9:00:00 AM


Our series on Implementation Insights aims to showcase unique ways that our partners are implementing RoboKind's curriculum or robots/virtual avatars that might be helpful to others who are looking to bring something new to their programming.

Our latest insight comes from a conversation with Hannah Carr from Marshall County Schools in Alabama.  


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Where Did "Breakfast Buddies" Come From?

Breakfast Buddies has been a part of the culture in DAR Elementary, originating from Ashley Hunt whose elementary resource group started as a "Lunch Bunch" but changed to "Breakfast Buddies". During Breakfast Buddies, students have their social skills lessons during their breakfast time as a way to start the day and help prepare them for the social skills they might need. 

Fast forward to a planning session at the beginning of 2024-2025 where DAR Elementary teachers and staff were working on ways to incorporate Milo and the virtual avatars. The goal  was for students to interact with and learn from Milo (who travels across several campuses in Marshall County) at least twice a week.  For a traveling implementation where Milo is only present on Monday and Friday, how would they engage students individually and in groups? 

Hannah's suggestion: why not invite Milo be part of Breakfast Buddies on the days he's with his friends at DAR Elementary?

The results were fantastic! Students got the engagement with Milo in groups with their friends and were able to learn from him during their breakfast time.  

The Basics of "Breakfast Buddies"

In a typical Breakfast Buddies morning, students go to their classrooms when they arrive at school, drop off their backpacks, then head to the cafeteria to pick up their breakfast. Instead of returning into their classroom, they come to the resource room for Breakfast Buddies. As her ten students (Pre-K to 3rd grade) sit down at the table with their breakfast, Hannah brings up the student version of the Web Companion on her interactive board and places Milo on the table right below it. 
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Hannah sits off to the side with her facilitator tablet and runs the social skills lesson. As Milo gives students the opportunity to respond to their tablet, Hannah's students take turns answering questions on the interactive board.

The great part about conducting group lessons this way is that students are getting opportunities to engage in "hidden lessons" in addition to the social skills lesson taught by Hannah. Students are learning how to patiently wait until their turn to interact with Milo and the board while being happy for and proud of their classmates as they engage with Milo. They're also using the time to understand appropriate conversation skills in taking turns and talking with each other as they express their opinions as they experience the lesson together. 

After the lesson is over, Hannah uses the RK Controller to have Milo remind students of the rules and expectations for the day as well as any schedule changes. Not only do students respond really well to hearing those from Milo, but they love feeling like Milo knows all about them and their school. 
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The Benefits of "Breakfast Buddies"

For students who were initially less interactive with Milo in one-on-one lessons, seeing their peers interact positively in Breakfast Buddies has encouraged them to increase their participation and engagement during individual lessons and are now excited to get personal time with him. 

For the educators, having this time set aside for groups in the mornings not only works best for everyone's schedule due to the varying activities and expectations from Pre-K to 3rd grade. Having 30 minutes with Milo during Breakfast Buddies not only allows each student to get those previously mentioned meaningful outcomes but helps each of the students achieve their individual social skills goals. 

"We have seen so much success and changes in our kids' behaviors throughout the day. What we have seen consistently with all of our kids is positive peer interaction during groups and taking turns. Another big benefit has been self-regulating." 

-Hannah Carr, Marshall County Schools, AL

Instead of students entering class and having a worksheet waiting on them to be completed (which can be overwhelming to many), students are excited to have a powerful and purposeful great start to their day. That positive start has a ripple effect that follows them throughout the rest of their day and makes them excited about the learning after Breakfast Buddies.

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Advice for "Breakfast Buddies" Beginners

Hannah encourages teachers to prioritize what works best for their schedule and to be creative in thinking of the different ways a similar social situation can positively impact the entire student's day. "It doesn't necessarily have to be Breakfast Buddies during the morning. It could be during snack, it could be lunch" or it could be embedded into any time you currently have blocked off for social skills group lessons during your day. "Start with once or twice a week and see how your kids respond." 

Hannah also encourages this type of group lesson because, "they were so infatuated with Milo one-on-one that it makes learning in the group lessons that much more exciting to them to experience it with their friends." Seeing how their friends react to lessons with Milo and hearing their opinions of the answers to Milo's questions is something they really enjoy.  Breakfast Buddies - 5

Hannah's next piece of advice? "Use the RK Controller!"

Not only do they have Milo tell the rules, expectations, and changes for the day at the end of the lesson, but she also uses the RK Controller before the lesson. Milo asks the students to check with their friends to make sure they have everything they need for breakfast (napkins, utensils, milk, etc.).

"Using the RK Controller is an opportunity to make Breakfast Buddies really personal, which is a big reason why they enjoy it so much."

Milo also tells students the expectations that students should have for each other while they're spending time together in the resource room as well as taking attendance.  Hannah programs Milo to call everyone's name and to say "Here" if they are present. Hearing Milo talk directly to them and will talk back to him. Hannah is working to create more ways to engage in conversations with the students using the RK Controller.

Watch the full video >


Bringing "Breakfast Buddies" To Your Classroom

Hannah and her colleagues have seen so much positivity and growth from Breakfast Buddies that they would love to hear from you if you try something similar in your own classroom!

Do you have a unique implementation story from your classroom or school? We would love to feature you in an upcoming Implementation Insight blog! Share your story at feedback@robokind.com to bring your classroom idea to your RoboKind colleagues!


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