Teach With INFOhio

Quality Instructional Materials from INFOhio: PebbleGo Next

Author // Sarah Mowery Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Quality Instructional Materials from INFOhio

Instructional materials matter and looking closely at the materials you use in your classrooms is important. Every Ohio student deserves the opportunity to learn from high-quality, standards-aligned instructional materials to become a resilient, lifelong learner who contributes to society (Each Child, Our Future).

Studies have shown that using high-quality, coherent curriculums and instructional materials leads to student growth in learning and achievement. We also know that students gain months of learning when teachers use high-quality instructional materials.  

While securing coherent curriculum and professional development for teachers is the first step in ensuring equity in Ohio’s classrooms, identifying high-quality supplemental materials at grade level for all learners can be helpful in increasing student engagement, meeting diverse needs, and filling instructional gaps.

For over 20 years, INFOhio has been providing Ohio schools and districts with quality supplemental resources available at no cost. INFOhio’s resources provide educators and students with premium, vetted content such as eBooks, videos, lesson plans, instructional web tools, and training and support materials that can be used for teaching and learning. When paired with a high-quality curriculum, these resources can provide additional engaging and innovative materials for student growth and achievement and can scaffold student learning if there are gaps.

While the criteria for high-quality instructional materials is broad, key indicators can be applied to materials to determine their effectiveness for student learning. For this Teach With INFOhio blog series, the premium content provided by INFOhio will be shared, highlighted by its

  • Standards alignment/Research-based strategies
  • Inclusive teaching
  • Usability
  • Flexibility and Adaptability

These are the categories of criteria for the RemotEDx Instructional Materials Rubric, developed by INFOhio's Instructional Team in collaboration with the Ohio Department of Education. EdReports' and Achieve's EQuIP rubrics were models for this tool. You can feel secure knowing that using the instructional materials from INFOhio will provide students with the quality materials they need to be successful and grow as learners.

 
PebbleGo Next

Through RemotEDx funding, INFOhio is excited to license new resources and expand features with previously licensed resources offering Ohio parents, educators, and students access to quality content. PebbleGo Next from Capstone is a resource designed for upper elementary students in grades 3-5 with standards-aligned articles, activities, videos, and games in five unique databases: American Indian History, Biographies, Science, Social Studies, and States.

PebbleGo Next provides articles sorted by content area and chunked into sections. It also includes games and videos to engage all learners. Capstone Connect, a database housed within the PebbleGo Next resource, is a unique complementary database for teachers that connects the article titles to Ohio Learning Standards and provides printable instructional materials. 

Educators can feel secure in using PebbleGo Next for quality content to supplement curriculums and scaffold learning. Articles, videos, games, and more meet the criteria set by the RemotEDx Instructional Materials Rubric and support rigor and acceleration in classrooms.

Using the individual criterion and applying its indicators to instructional materials can help you decide what will be the best content to use with your students. Below are some of the criteria and how PebbleGo Next aligns with the indicators.

 
Standards Alignment/Research-Based Strategies

These criteria and indicators help educators identify instructional materials that are aligned with the rigor of the Ohio Learning Standards and rely on research and scientific thinking for best results in the classroom.

 

Content Leads to Further Learning by Gradually Removing Supports and Requiring Advanced Skills and Concepts 

Lesson plans and activities that connect to PebbleGo Next articles and databases frequently use the I do, We do, You do technique and begin with teachers introducing the content and modeling best practices (I do). After modeling, guided practice takes place where students and teacher are working together (We do). Then the lesson culminates with independent practice (You do). In this lesson, Human Body Systems, using the Science database, students will learn about the human body systems and create an Artificial Lifeform (AL) that mimics the human body as much as possible.

 PebbleGo Next lesson plan featuring I do, we do, you do technique.

 

 

Content Provides for Authentic Learning, Application of Literacy Skills, Student-directed Inquiry, Analysis, Evaluation, and/or Reflection

If an unfamiliar word is read, students can click on any word in the text and a new window will appear with a dictionary, defining the word. This explicit vocabulary instruction is essential for the comprehension of text. 

 Dictionary pop-up window defining the word microscope.

 

Uses Technology and Media to Deepen Learning and Engage Students

PebbleGo Next can also be used for student exploration and independent learning. During independent reading time, an option for students to make their own reading choices based on interest is an easy way for students to have control over their learning. Another fun option is to choose a database of interest and then click on the random article spinner at the top of the page. This will provide readers with a surprise article within that database to read.

Arrow pointing to the spinner button in the top right corner.

Each database also features topic-focused games including:

  • Word Scramble - using words, themes, and topics from within the database of choice, students will try to unscramble the vocabulary words. 
  • Zoom - an image from the database is zoomed in and students try to guess what it is.
  • Jigsaw - an image from the database is provided and students fit the pieces back together.
  • Quick Match - using vocabulary words students are to determine if the image and text match. 

PebbleGo Next games include word scramble, zoom, jigsaw, and quick match.

 

Instructional Approaches Used are Reflective of Best Practices and Research on What Works in Education

Capstone Connect, a database with instructional materials for PebbleGo Next and Capstone Interactive eBooks provides teachers a simple way to search for specific titles aligned to Ohio Learning Standards. Not only will you find articles from PebbleGo Next and eBooks from Capstone Interactive that correlate to specific standards, but you will also find thorough lesson plans that connect literacy to the content areas. To access Capstone Connect, click the drop-down menu named Capstone in the top right corner of the PebbleGo Next homepage and choose “Search by Standards or Title: Capstone Connect.” 

 Find Capstone Connect in the drop-down menu in the top right corner.

Filter the results by a specific standard and a specific resource. This will narrow your search results to find content that correlates to what you are teaching in the classroom. In this example, I chose “Search by Standard” and limited my results to 4th Grade Science Ohio Learning Standards. I then clicked on the standard, “4.LS.2: Fossils can be compared to one another and to present-day organisms according to their similarities and differences.” My search results include articles, eBooks, and lesson plans. Instructional materials can be downloaded by clicking the "Download" button on the right side of the title and the link to the article or eBook can be copied to share with students or other educators by clicking "Copy Link."

Capstone Connect search results.

 
Inclusive Teaching

Inclusive teaching emphasizes the strategies and practices educators can use in the classroom to leverage the strengths and tools students of color bring for learning. The criteria and indicators for this category focus on how instructional materials recognize, define, and contribute to the growth and understanding of these strengths. 

 

Content Creates Student Experiences that Enable all Children to Reach Empowering and Rigorous Learning Outcomes Regardless of their Race or Income

Articles include multiple approaches to consistently monitor students' understanding of the content. The text can be read aloud by clicking the yellow speaker button. As the text is read aloud, each word is highlighted in yellow helping students to focus on the text. Most articles also include a short video illustrating a concept shared within the text. An Activity button is also present, which is a pdf of a lesson that provides a hands-on activity to further student understanding, allowing students to apply their knowledge of the content learned.  

Find read aloud features, games, videos, and activities.

 
Flexibility and Adaptability

The criteria and indicators for this category ensure that instructional materials provide students and educators with what they need for learning in any form—in person, hybrid, blended, or remote. 

 

Teacher Supports, Documentation, and/or Guides for Effective Use are Present

Digital teacher guides, examples, and/or templates are available for the materials to use in different delivery modesPebbleGo Next provides printable instructional materials sorted by content area aligned with grades 3-5 curricular topics. To explore the instructional materials for each of the content areas, click the area of interest: 

In this Historical Newspaper Article activity, students are asked to research a historical event using the Social Studies database within PebbleGo Next. The lesson is in pdf format and is printable. The lesson plan uses the I do, we do, you do method and begins with modeling, guided practice, and then independent practice. The guided questions worksheet and newspaper template is included and can be printed for student use. 

Guided questions and historical events template.

The information page for PebbleGo Next also has training and support materials that will help educators learn more about the resource. Title lists are available for each of the content area databases, Biographies Title List, Science Title List, Social Studies Title List, States & American Indian History Title List. There is also a 30-minute webinar, See What’s New: Capstone Grades 3-6 Resources that gives an overview of PebbleGo Next and Capstone Interactive eBooks.  

PebbleGo Next information page.

 
Usability

High-quality instructional materials value accessibility. These criteria and indicators will help determine how well materials meet the needs of all learners.

 

Materials follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

Alternate text or captions are present on images found in articles within the database. All images within the articles include a descriptive caption making it easy for students to understand what they are seeing. The image can also be changed to full size by clicking the directional icon in the top right corner of all images.

Captions on images.

PebbleGo Next uses a variety of indicators other than color to convey important content or meaning. Specific icons are used to indicate different types of content within each article and within the breadcrumbs. Each article includes a:

  • Citation
  • Video
  • Dictionary. 

Many articles also include:

  • Activity 
  • Timeline
  • Terminology

In the image below you can see the icon chosen for each type of content. The breadcrumbs, at the top of the image also use icons to give readers an easy way to navigate to broader topics. You can see the icon for home, which will take readers back to the 5 main categories available in this database: American Indian History, Biographies, Science, Social Studies, and States. The teepee icon indicates that we are currently viewing the American Indian History category and the next icon is showing Native Hawaiians.

PebbleGo icons.

These icons can also be found on the PebbleGo Next homepage making it easy to remember where you are within the database.

Icons can also be seen on the homepage.

 

The Visual Design of Materials is Clean and Coherent, Lending Itself to Ease of Learning

Each article is organized by tabs. Chunking the information into smaller elements this way helps readers focus on one section at a time making it easier to understand the information presented. The final tab of each article is Related Articles. This tab provides additional articles that are related to the current article or topic you are reading about.  

Articles are chunked into sections.

Try it Out in Your Classroom!

PebbleGo Next is intended for use by students in the upper elementary grades 3-5. It contains content to support science and social studies. Try the quality instructional materials available at no cost in your classroom. Be sure to share how #INFOhioWorks for you on social media.

 

Quality Instructional Materials from INFOhio: PebbleGo Next

About the Author

Posted by: Sarah Mowery

Sarah Mowery is a Professional Instructional Specialist with INFOhio. She has worked in education for 16 years as a school librarian and technology coach in elementary and middle school settings. While in these roles, she's been an integral part of the building leadership teams working as a curriculum connector and integrating web-based tools. She earned a BA in Sociology from Bowling Green State University and an MLS with a specialization in PK-12 schools from East Carolina University. Sarah was one of the original INFOhio ICoaches when the program first began in 2013 and has a passion for sharing how INFOhio resources can transform teaching and impact learning for students and educators across the state of Ohio. 

Sarah Mowery
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