Ruth Barron Elementary School’s Success Story
Dual-language Support is a Game Changer
Ruth Barron Elementary School is a large PreK-5th grade school in Pflugerville, TX serving around 750 students, with a significant number of those being English Language Learners. Led by librarian, Diane Sikkenga, the library is a core element of what makes this school such a wonderful learning community. Their mission is to provide engaging educational resources and experiences to all students and teachers so that students can become lifelong researchers and learners. To daily realize this important mission, Diane relies upon PebbleGo for a fun, simple, and effective way to engage her students in English and Spanish.
What are some of the unique challenges you experience at Ruth Barron Elementary working with students in PreK-5?
“We are privileged to work with a diverse student population, but it can be a struggle to find ideal resources that work for each student. We have a wide range of students with some reading below grade level, others substantially ahead of grade level, and many ELL students at the early stages of reading and understanding the English language. So, finding the right reading and research tool can be tricky, especially with our young ones.“
What resources had you tried to address these challenges?
“When I started, there were some lesson plans that had been created over the years and we had World Book Online. These weren’t bad, but they just didn’t engage the students or teachers in the way PebbleGo does, especially with our PreK-2 students. We needed something that was going to get the kids excited to learn.”
How has PebbleGo helped you address this challenge?
“PebbleGo is a one-of-a-kind research database. It provides a safe online space for students to have their questions answered. The ability to provide students opportunities for self-directed learning is a game changer. Students are excited to explore and learn about everything from animals to presidents and so much more. The best part is, our ELL students can use it too. They have access to all of the same articles in Spanish as they do in English, meaning they can develop content knowledge and language skills simultaneously. This doesn’t exist anywhere else I’ve found.”
What was the experience like for teachers adopting PebbleGo?
“PebbleGo is one tool that I get very few questions from teachers on how to use. I do a training and update teachers through a weekly newsletter, but those are more to help start us thinking about new, creative ways we can collaborate on activities and projects that can connect the various subject areas together. Because PebbleGo is so simple for the teachers and students alike, they use it all the time.”
What has made PebbleGo a great resource for your students and teachers?
“PebbleGo is the only tool I’ve seen that combines simplicity with in-depth information in a way that is accessible for every one of our students. Our youngest students navigate the colorful, large interface with ease and the breadcrumbs help students to find what they need in a snap. The teachers really love the consistent organization and structure of the articles. It gives them confidence to allow their students a degree of choice. For instance, we did a large project on presidents with our second graders. Teachers encouraged their students to choose a president they had never heard of before. Because every biography in PebbleGo has the same categories of information, teachers knew that every student would have the same type and quality of information. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is for all of our ELL students to have the same experience with PebbleGo in Spanish.”
What would you tell someone considering PebbleGo?
“PebbleGo is easily the best investment you could make. The inclusion of all the Spanish modules makes it an absolute must-have for any elementary school who wants to provide their native English-speaking and ELL students with the same great curriculum-connected content. Your students will thank you!”
Thank you so much, Diane, for taking the time to share about your experience with PebbleGo!