MultiMedia & Internet @ Schools - Charles Doe, media specialist, Hastings Area Schools, Hastings, MI
"Overall Rating: 5 Stars
Ease of Use: A
Product Support: A
Company: Capstone Press, Inc., 151 Good Counsel Drive, Mankato, MN 56002. Phone: (800) 747-4992; Internet: www.capstonepress.com.
Price: $395 per building per year. Volume discounts are available. A free demonstration version is offered online.
Audience: K–2 emergent readers, both at home and at school.
Format: Web-based subscription database with audio, video, and still images for computers with Windows, Mac, or Linux operating systems.
Minimum System Requirements: Basically, a fast internet connection and a newer computer are required. Video and other elements of the site, however, generate some additional hardware and software requirements.
Mac and Linux computers have essentially the same requirements. Macs require Power PC GC, 500 MHz, Intel Core Duo 1.33 GHz processor, Safari 3.x, and Opera 9.5 or Firefox 2.x. Linux machines require Red Hat Enterprise Linus (RHEL) 5, openSUSE 11, or Ubantu 7.10 with Firefox 2.x or SeaMonkey 1.11.
Description: Aligned to national curriculum standards, PebbleGo introduces K–2 students to database and research concepts with information about hundreds of animals. The program navigation, the level of difficulty of the text, the read-aloud component, and other features are designed for use by emergent readers.
Installation: The installation essentially consists of being sure the proper equipment with the correct software is available, followed by arranging a subscription. Installation Rating: A
Content/Features: PebbleGo, named after the Capstone Press Pebble Books series, is a subscription database designed specifically to help K–2 students learn to use databases and perform research tasks.
The program provides animal information in a database with a visually pleasing interface. Since reading ability can be one of the big problems for younger children doing research, PebbleGo offers a number of features designed to make research possible despite the characteristically low reading level of this audience.
The program is attractively designed with information about approximately 200 animals, including different classes of animals (amphibians, mammals, reptiles, etc.), animal behavior, home territory, and more. The information examines body, habitat, food, life cycle, and fun facts in a type of slide show.
The text is carefully leveled and age-appropriate. The image on the body slide can be printed as an activity that provides a list of body parts and blank spaces, offering the opportunity to correctly label the animal.
Students can click an on-screen button to hear the sound an animal makes. Another button offers a brief video clip. Additional buttons enable students to print information about an animal, obtain citation information, move to other parts of the database, or produce a template page that can be printed and used to share information about a specific animal.
The important features of PebbleGo are the navigation and reading functions that make it possible for K–2 students to use this kind of research tool. Pleasant voices read words aloud to identify some of the nav¬i¬¬gation buttons. Hearing the spoken names of the animals on these buttons should help students learn unfamiliar words. Information about each animal can be read aloud, accompanied by word-by-word highlighting.
PebbleGo can be searched using search terms, a skill that is probably difficult for K–2 readers. The best way for younger children to find animals or to explore the database is through a series of buttons on the first screen. These include navigation buttons for games, a "Vote for Your Favorite Animal" button, an "Animal of the Day" butto" - MultiMedia & Internet @ Schools
June 1, 2009