“Our students gained from having time for reflection as well as working cooperatively both with small groups and larger groups. We saw many students who do not normally participate in classroom discussions flourish. They felt comfortable sharing their ideas and asking questions. We really enjoyed this program!”
The desire to learn and think critically begins at the elementary school level. Touchstones’ programs for students in elementary grades help children learn the fundamentals of the discussion process and reach their potential as active and curious learners. Each of our three elementary volumes, Touchpebbles Volumes A, B and C, include 25-30 lessons. These lessons invite children to explore a wide variety of primary source texts, including folktales, myths, and fables from around the world. All texts are selected, adapted, and edited by Touchstones for grade-level readability.
Through their engagement in Touchpebbles discussions, students learn several skills essential to their development as well-rounded learners, including:
- Listening carefully (both to adults and peers)
- Reading closely
- Speaking clearly
- Organizing their thoughts
- Working independently and cooperatively, based on teacher direction
- Thinking critically about ideas expressed in the text and during the discussion
Through the practice of these skills, students learn to speak to and with their classmates rather than relying on the teacher for acknowledgement or affirmation.
The flexibility in Touchpebbles discussion encourages freedom of expression while the structured activities, ground rules, and attention to discussion dynamics ensure that this freedom is used productively and responsibly. Students also develop critical reading and thinking skills in their discussions. Participation in Touchpebbles helps students develop strategies which enable them to be focused and thoughtful readers. They learn strategies such as making connections between the text, themselves, and the world; learning to ask probing questions and respond to questions for which there are no right answers; making inferences; determining importance; and synthesizing individual pieces of the text into an integrated whole. Because Touchstones discussions examine topics within the text, students gain practice exploring deeper themes raised in each text.