Elementary Programs2023-10-11T23:08:04-04:00

The Touchpebbles Classroom

Touchpebbles, our series for elementary grades, gives you the tools to help your students take charge of their learning today and begin building the discussion skills they need for tomorrow.

Why Touchpebbles?

  • Take a Systematic Approach – Touchpebbles intentionally builds your students’ discussion skills as they move through The Four Stages of group development

  • Support Social-Emotional Learning – Touchpebbles builds self-awareness, self-regulation, and confidence as your students learn to navigate and take responsibility for group dynamics.

  • Foster an Inclusive Culture – In Touchpebbles, your students’ experiences and voices take center stage as the group explores diverse ideas and works toward shared leadership. Each text is adapted for grade level accessibility and read aloud by the teacher.

  • Get Personalized Support – Our team is responsive to your needs and rooted in relationships. Custom programs, training, coaching, and feedback is always available from Touchstones’ highly experienced staff.

How Touchpebbles Works

Touchpebbles uses a systematic and intentional approach to help your students build the high level speaking, listening, and critical thinking skills they need to engage in meaningful discussions. Lessons happen alongside your existing curricula and programs and build skills that your students can apply anywhere – in school or in life!

1. Ground Rules

Five ground rules anchor your students in respectful discussion, and are referred back to throughout the lesson.

2. Text for Discussion

Texts serve as tools to support inclusive group dynamics and raise ideas that all your students can explore.

3. Individual Work

Individual activities provide space for your students to connect their own experiences and opinions to the ideas in the text.

4. Small Group Work

Small groups provides a safer space for sharing ideas, and help your students practice collaborative learning.

5. Whole Group Discussion

Students share and explore ideas together, while learning to recognize their own strengths and make space for others.

6. Discussion Evaluation

Our evaluation tools help your students reflect, recognize and take responsibility for group dynamics, and set goals for next time.

What can I expect from Touchpebbles?

Touchpebbles strengthens the work you’re already doing to build students’ discourse skills, enhancing the outcomes of strategies like restorative practices and Morning Meeting. Our Essential Skills align with many states’ English Language Arts speaking and listening standards, as well as civics skills standards and social-emotional learning frameworks, including 21st Century Skills.

Touchpebbles Essential Skills



Active Listening


Reflective Thinking

Analytical Reasoning

Cooperative Learning

Evidenced-Based Results

Touchpebbles is research-based and refined by over 38 years of teacher feedback – so we know how powerful it can be! Here’s what schools report about student growth across grade levels after just one year using the program.

↑ 90%

of students improved critical thinking skills

↑ 87%

of students took greater responsibility for the discussion

↑ 83%

of students improved active listening skills

↓ 21%

reduction in school-wide instances of bullying

What Schools Are Saying About Touchpebbles

I know of no program that address speaking and listening skills as effectively as [Touchpebbles]. Students get the added benefit of developing respect for differences in the opinions and beliefs of their classmates as feelings are openly expressed…and heard.”

N. Lee Powell

Former County Supervisor of Elementary Education, MD

“Sometimes people have a voice that is never heard. Or a talent that is never shared. No one even bothers to share a discussion. The world is empty without a discussion. We the people are the ones that can make a difference. Discussion into debates, debates into arguments, arguments into resolutions! And resolutions into changes, and change is made by Touchpebbles.

Xavier, 5th Grade Student

Learning Community Charter School, NJ

“We saw many students who do not normally participate in whole group discussions or classroom discussions flourish. They felt comfortable sharing their ideas and asking questions of others.”

M. Dillane

Teacher, Camelot Elementary, VA

What makes Touchpebbles different?

In a Touchpebbles class, teachers take on the role of learner, students become leaders, and the text for discussion strategically builds skills.

The Role of Your Students

  • Engage in multiple ways – through speaking, listening, writing and individual, small group, and large group activities.

  • Break old habits – your students learn to recognize and change the role they typically play in a group discussion.

  • Take ownership – your students take increasing responsibility for recognizing and addressing issues in group dynamics.

  • No outside preparation – Touchpebbles does not require students to prepare before class, allowing everyone to participate in the discussion.

The Role of the Teacher

  • Facilitator – teachers support students’ exploration of ideas, rather than guiding them from point A to predetermined point B.

  • No longer the “sage on the stage” freed from being “the expert,” teachers leave room for students to take initiative.

  • Intervene strategically teachers learn what they can do to improve the flow and dynamics of the discussion.

  • Know when to let go Teachers also decide when not to intervene, allowing students to recognize and take responsibility for solving problems.

four students in small group

The Role of the Texts

  • Texts are short and do not require additional context or background information.

  • Touchpebbles’ texts emphasize building discussion skills over delivering content.

  • Ideas in the texts are explored and questioned collaboratively, rather than simply accepted.

  • Texts are ordered intentionally to raise issues the group will encounter as it progresses through The Four Stages.

Explore More Touchpebbles Tools and Resources


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