Marcia R. Garza Elementary School in Alamo, Texas, is part of the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District and enrolls approximately 550 students in pre-kindergarten through grade five. Like all schools throughout the district, Garza Elementary School’s library has access to a number of digital resources that support teaching and learning. One of the more popular resources is Explora, a colorful, user-friendly research tool designed specifically for students.
Exploring History with Explora
Each October, students in the third, fourth and fifth grades at Marcia R. Garza Elementary School complete a Living History Project using information resources in Explora, EBSCO’s dedicated search interface for schools. The project asks each student to research a significant historical figure, dress the part, and tell their classmates about their chosen figure’s life and accomplishments.
Before research begins, teachers bring their students to the library where School Librarian Amy Marquez shows them how to use Explora and the library’s other information resources. All of the school’s digital resources are linked to from the library web page. Students typically access the content via computers or iPads in the school library, but they also take home their login credentials so that they can complete research at home.
“Our students can easily find the information they need,” Marquez said. “Instead of having to search Google and sift through so many search results, students find a manageable number of reliable resources through Explora. Also, students do not have to worry about fact checking because they know they can rely on Explora to provide valid information.”
Marquez said the Biographies category in Explora’s primary school edition includes a variety of articles and images that help students become experts on their historical figures.
“The vocabulary level of the articles is appropriate for third through fifth graders, allowing content to be easily understood,” she said. “In addition, I really like that the photos students come across during research are all appropriate for their level.”
Once students complete their research, each must prepare a written report and design a poster to present to classmates while dressed in character during the Living History Museum, an event that typically coincides with Halloween. But on this day, superheroes, vampires and zombies are replaced by the likenesses of Abraham Lincoln, Wilbur Wright and Rosie the Riveter.
Marquez said the project helps students to develop research skills, organize and present information, and become more confident speakers. In addition, student audience members are able to practice active listening skills.
“Students become passionate about learning when they are given the opportunity to explore their interests,” Marquez said, adding that the school district's news channel produced a special video segment on the Living History Museum event. “I truly believe history comes to life when they get to dress up as their historical figure and share what they learned with their peers.”
"Instead of having to search Google and sift through so many search results, students find a manageable number of reliable resources through Explora."