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Q-files could be a great way for ELLs or struggling readers to take a second look at topics you're covering in class. It's a helpful tool for all students to explore STEM topics and social studies topics in greater detail, so encourage your students to dive deeply into sections that interest them and report back to their classmates. Have students create their own illustrations to supplement the ones they see on the site, or ask them to create their own encyclopedia entries on topics you research or explore in class. Have students use the Q-news entries as a starting point for further study on other news sites, and have them find their own current events topics and use the entries on Q-files to further explain the topics at play in those news stories.Continue reading Show less
Q-files is a subscription-based online encyclopedia created by Orpheus Books Limited, a UK-based publisher. There's a 14-day trial available, and all users can see a preview of the article. The content is geared toward elementary and middle school students (Key Stages 2 and 3 in the UK), and topics include a range of social studies and science subjects. On the site's home page, students can roll over each topic heading to display a drop-down menu of available subtopics; click any entry, and that same menu then appears at left for easier use. Each entry includes illustrations, photos, links to other entries, and a short narrative description. A Q-news section includes entries about current events that link back to the encyclopedia entries, and short "Q-facts" boxes offer fun facts related to most entries. There's also an appealing page about helping students develop critical thinking and digital literacy skills while conducting research online.
Articles are written by the site's consultants, all of whom are writers and professors and whose bios are available on the Consultants page. According to the site's About page, all articles are submitted to that team's "detailed scrutiny," and users of the site "can therefore be assured of the highest standards of accuracy and reliability." Users can also link to download paid "Q-books," nonfiction readers from the same publisher that delve more deeply into the same topics. Any image or entry can be shared via social media, and each page includes a citation tool that generates an entry for the page in four different citation styles. Each page features a downloadable audio clip of the on-screen text; however, there's no option to slow things down or speed things up, and though you can click on a word to hear it spoken, you can't jump the narration to that point in the text. You can, however, download the MP3 for personal use.
This kid-friendly site offers very cool information, and even if its encyclopedia-like entries don't dive especially deep, they do offer an alternative to more college-level Wikipedia entires. Students will find the serious topics they might expect from an encyclopedia (such as types of animals and ecosystems) plus more whimsical entries ("Castles & knights" and "Pirates & galleons"). The Prehistoric section has extensive dinosaur information, and the Technology and Science sections feature great diagrams and illustrations to show students how things (such as electricity and plate tectonics) work. There's also an impressively diverse range of entries: Famous Women features scientists (such as Rosalind Franklin), writers (such as Maya Angelou), and leaders (such as Malala Yousafzai), among others, and articles on world regions and cultures highlight key contributions from people beyond Western Europe. Keep in mind that Q-files is still an encyclopedia, so its entries likely aren't suitable as citation-worthy primary sources for a research paper. Still, this is a solid tool for reference and introductory material, and it could be a great supplement to offer students for quick reference, independent reading, or inspiration.
Key Standards Supported
Reading Informational Text
Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
Determine the main idea of a text; recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea.
Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.
Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 3 topic or subject area.
Use text features and search tools (e.g., key words, sidebars, hyperlinks) to locate information relevant to a given topic efficiently.
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.
Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.
Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area.
Describe the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in a text or part of a text.
Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
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.
Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 5 topic or subject area.
Compare and contrast the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in two or more texts.
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).
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings.
Analyze how a particular sentence, paragraph, chapter, or section fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the ideas.
Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Determine two or more central ideas in a text and analyze their development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.
Analyze the interactions between individuals, events, and ideas in a text (e.g., how ideas influence individuals or events, or how individuals influence ideas or events).
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.
Analyze the structure an author uses to organize a text, including how the major sections contribute to the whole and to the development of the ideas.
Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to supporting ideas; provide an objective summary of the text.
Analyze how a text makes connections among and distinctions between individuals, ideas, or events (e.g., through comparisons, analogies, or categories).
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.
Analyze in detail the structure of a specific paragraph in a text, including the role of particular sentences in developing and refining a key concept.
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