The Bear Report by Thyra Heder is a fictional story about a girl who is supposed to research three facts about polar bears, and is clearly bored by the assignment. After listing three ho-hum facts, she heads to the living room to watch TV.
That’s when things get interesting. A polar bear suddenly appears out of nowhere and transports the girl to his arctic environment for some firsthand research. Initially, she is unimpressed, but as she experiences the bear's world, her curiosity and knowledge grows. In the final scene, the girl is back home, surrounded by books and maps and notes and drawings, assembling the most awesome polar bear report you can imagine.
Why do I love this book? Because many students think research is boring, and it just breaks my heart. I’m going to blog more about this in a six-part series beginning next month, but for now I’d like to share two things:
Some words and phrases I associate with the act of researching:
--Prospecting for rare nuggets of knowledge
--Developing unique perspectives
--Books, databases, observations, interviews
A word cloud based on words and phrases sixth graders associate with the act of researching:
These students certainly aren’t alone. And although I’m not sure why students have this attitude by middle school, I am sure that books like The Bear Report can show them that authentic research can be fun as well as fascinating.