Research skills are super important, but when you teach second grade hybrid like I do, they can be quite a challenge to teach. It’s difficult to find age-appropriate digital research materials when doing a random search. Most of the available material is far above my students’ reading level and isn’t necessarily kid-friendly. Fortunately, I found a great resource. Check out how I made these animal reports happen using age-appropriate research tools with my second graders:
Setting the Stage
My students are obsessed with animals, so I decided to do in-class animal research projects using PebbleGo, a research tool specifically designed for K-3 students. For our first introduction, I displayed PebbleGo on my interactive whiteboard and modeled how to navigate through the program.
My demonstration included how to: go through each tab of information per topic, utilize the read-aloud audio, enlarge photographs, watch videos, listen to the corresponding animal sounds, and view the range map to see where animals are found in the wild. Each animal page (except for common pets) has the following information tabs: body, habitat, food, life cycle, and fun facts.
After my mini-lesson, I gave the students 20 minutes to explore the entire animals’ section independently. Their enthusiasm was infectious! Each student had exciting animal facts to share with me every other second.
The next day, I picked one animal to explore in-depth together. I chose the cardinal since we have seen some lately on campus and around the community. After going through each section together, each student found the cardinal page on their laptop.
All of the content has a read-aloud audio feature, which is especially helpful for my struggling readers. Additionally, all of the text and audio can be translated into Spanish. I have a new student who just arrived from Colombia and does not speak any English, so this has been a wonderful tool to assist her.
The students worked independently to complete the two activity sheets, which I also got from PebbleGo! I love how the “Share What You Know” sheet correlates with the five information tabs on each specific animal. Once my class was finished, we went over both sheets together through the document camera.
Now it was time for my students to do their own research and mini-reports. To shake things up, we had a drawing to determine what animal each student would research. Each student picked one slip out of a hat (after a round of handwashing, of course!), and things took off from there.
Each student completed a hard copy of the two activity sheets correlating to his or her assigned animal. Next, I introduced the students to the Read More eBooks section connected to each animal, which caused another wave of excitement! There were tons of books corresponding to the animal project topics.
Everyone shared their findings with the class in recognition of our success. The students were so proud of their reports, which of course had me kvelling.
Our first research project using PebbleGo was a huge success. Even my students who I struggle with daily to complete assignments were highly motivated. This won’t be our last project. Next up: biographies and weather!