AP NEWS

La Porte teacher fights fidgeting with ‘bouncing’

March 22, 2019

La PORTE – Boston Middle School teacher Natalie Watterson has come up with an unusual way to keep her students focused in the classroom – bouncing.

Throughout her teaching career, Watterson said, she was finding students moving and wandering around the classroom instead of paying attention to her lessons.

Given that the classrooms at Boston are somewhat cramped, the moving around became a constant distraction for other students in her small, windowless classroom.

But last year, Watterson was introduced to BouncyBands and decided to try them in her classroom. They’re elastic bands that easily attach to the bottoms of desks, giving students a place to bounce their feet, releasing excess energy so students have an easier time staying focused.

A study out of Clemson University found that, while using BouncyBands, “the average child is able to focus significantly more, which equates to 35 minutes each school day and countless more hours at home.”

After learning of the benefits, Watterson sought funding from donorschoose.org. Her project – “Bouncing our way to success” – received full funding in two weeks time. In total, she raised $404, enough to outfit all of the desks in her classroom with BouncyBands.

She first used the bands during last year’s spring semester, when the students installed the bands themselves, without much difficulty.

As an extra benefit, the packaging of the bands produced little waste, and it was able to be recycled by the school’s sensory room and made into building blocks.

The bands have been a big hit.

“I have had great success with BouncyBands in my classroom,” Watterson said. “Students would always be tapping their pencils or getting up from their desks, but now they stay put because they have a way to get out all of their excess energy.”

Her students have given their own testimonials.

“The BouncyBands help me think,” said seventh-grader DeMarco Moore. “Flexible seating helps me concentrate.”

“The bands help your feet and legs not fall asleep because you can move,” explained Shyann Watson, another student in Watterson’s seventh-grade class.

Watterson intends on bringing BouncyBands with her to the new middle school next year, and has ambitions of getting colleagues to institute them into their classrooms in hopes of making a more focused school.

“I always hear kids telling me that they wish they had the BouncyBands in their other classrooms. I’m hoping that it will catch on,” she said.