How to address violence in the news with your students.
Give kids a chance to become familiar with PebbleGo Next's offerings before you assign research. Pose a question that students can answer using the site, and have them post their findings on a shared platform such as Padlet. Or if you're feeling low-tech, use sticky notes. Next, guide students through navigating different topics and subtopics, using the variety of available learning tools to further their understanding. As students improve at synthesizing information and paraphrasing text, reinforce copyright protocol via the built-in citation tool. Once kids are comfortable with the interface, increase the engagement factor by letting students use an augmented reality tool like Metaverse to create a scavenger hunt based on their research.
Teachers looking for ways to support students' different learning needs will find some helpful features and ideas. The read-aloud tool highlights text as the narrator reads it with appropriate speed and fluency. The Community feature links to PebbleGo, the developer's K-2 research site, but it contains particularly useful and creative ideas that can be adapted for upper grades. Blog posts include helpful links to examples and ideas generated by other educators, providing plenty of inspiration to inject excitement into the research process.
PebbleGo Next is a kid-friendly research database for students in grades 3-6. An extension of the developer's K-2 site, PebbleGo, it lets students choose from five modules -- States, Science, American History, Biography, and Social Studies -- each one with a number of subtopics to explore. Once students decide on the focus of their research, they can click or scroll through eight different slides related to the chosen topic. Short text-based descriptions, images, videos, and games provide students with a well-rounded exploration of science- and social studies-related topics. A read-aloud feature with a word-by-word highlighter supports English-language learners (ELLs). Students may also opt to play games such as Quick Match or Jigsaw.
Teachers can view which articles are the most popular with their students -- handy information to have when planning related lessons. However, the site doesn't include individual student logins, so there's no way for teachers to analyze how specific kids are using the site.
PebbleGo Next is chock-full of information, but it's what students do with the research that matters. It's important to immerse students in a topic by providing multiple avenues for learning, and the site accomplishes this beautifully by fostering multimodal literacy skills. Kids can read, listen, see images, watch videos, and play games; when taken all together, these activities have the potential to contribute to a deeper understanding of subject matter. In addition, the read-aloud feature supports students who struggle with reading or prefer auditory content. While the games are fun, most don't go deep enough to significantly improve student understanding.
It can be a challenge to get students engaged in research, so teachers may need to explore the site's blog for ideas to spark kids' interest. Teachers will also need to consider scaffolding lessons to support students as they develop increasingly sophisticated research skills. Reinforcing digital citizenship concepts such as information literacy and copyright guidelines go a long way toward helping students build a solid foundation for future research projects.
Key Standards Supported
Reading Informational Text
Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).
By the end of the year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grades 2–3 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.
By the end of year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the grades 4–5 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
Determine two or more main ideas of a text and explain how they are supported by key details; summarize the text.
Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.
By the end of the year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grades 4–5 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Determine a central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.
Analyze in detail how a key individual, event, or idea is introduced, illustrated, and elaborated in a text (e.g., through examples or anecdotes).
By the end of the year, read and comprehend literary nonfiction in the grades 6–8 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
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