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Using EBSCO Databases in the K-12 Classroom

Integrating technology into school curricula has been a chief objective of librarians, school media specialists, and educators since the mid-1990s when, with the growth of the internet and online databases, it became vital for schools to embrace these technologies.

EBSCO’s online research databases are powerful tools that can be used by students to access information as they develop critical thinking skills such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Using EBSCO databases and interfaces brings together 21st Century learning standards with the steps of the research process, which can help to meet the objectives of school curricula around the globe. Here’s how EBSCO resources can support your school’s curriculum:

Superior Content & Functionality

EBSCO’s databases feature reliable, high-quality articles from a number of popular and academic sources. These resources cover a vast array of subject areas—including science, mathematics, social studies, literature, the arts, and world languages—and support curriculum programs around the world.

Primary Sources

EBSCO databases contain thousands of primary source documents, including speeches, letters, official government documents, and more. Using the “Publication Type” limiter, students and teachers can elect to search primary source documents only. For example, using this option in the History Reference Center database, along with the keyword search “Truman,” yields dozens of documents, including a memorandum titled “The decision to use the atomic bomb.”

Search Alerts

Teacher preparation time is often limited, so EBSCO offers a Search Alert feature to help you locate relevant materials for class lessons without having to craft the search string over and over again. Once you set up a Search Alert, you will receive automatic notification by email whenever new search results become available.  You can also retrieve those alerts and search immediately, instead of waiting for the alert to run. For more information, see How to Use Search Alerts.

Tools for Differentiating Instruction

Several EBSCO database features can simplify discovery of age- or grade-appropriate content and support teachers in differentiating instruction.

Lexile Reading Levels

A Lexile Measure assigned to a search result provides educators with an estimate of the reading difficulty of the result, and the approximate grade level reading ability required for comprehension.

Many curriculum standards promote increasing text complexity to help students build on literacy success and challenge themselves with more complex texts. The chart shown below is a guideline to select appropriate text for each grade, including text for a "stretch" to the next level.

Grade Band Lexile Band "Stretch" Lexile Band
K-1 N/A N/A
2-3 450L-725L 420L-820L
4-5 645L-845L 740L-1010L
6-8 860L-1010L 925L-1185L
9-10 960L-1115L 1050L-1335L
11-CCR 1070L-1220L 1185L-1385L

To limit results by Lexile band, click the Advanced Search link in any EBSCO database containing Lexile Measures. Under Limit your results, select the desired Lexile Reading Level and click Search.

You can also search by Lexile in many EBSCO databases using the LX search tag. To see whether the database supports the LX limiter, click the Database Help link on the search screen and scroll down to the Searchable Fields area. If the LX limiter appears, you can enter LX and a Lexile range along with your search terms.

For example, in a database such as Science Reference Center, you could enter hurricanes AND LX 500 - 750 to find articles about hurricanes within that Lexile range. For more information about the Lexile Framework for Reading, visit the MetaMetrics website here.

Text-to-Speech Tool

Text-to-Speech allows you and your students to listen to HTML full text articles as they are read aloud to you. If enabled by your administrator, Text-To-Speech is available for EBSCOhost, Points of View Reference Center (including Canadian and Australia/New Zealand versions), Literary Reference Center, Literary Reference Center Plus, Poetry & Short Story Reference Center, History Reference Center, Read It! and Science Reference Center. Text-to-Speech provides educators with an alternative content delivery option to support differentiated instruction. For information on enabling and using this feature, please see the following FAQs:

Collaboration Support

EBSCO makes it easy for students to collaborate on classroom projects and for teachers to share professional development resources. EBSCO’s Folder feature allows you to collect results from different searches, store them in the session folder, and manage the contents to print, email, or save them.

If you create a personal My EBSCOhost account, you can create customized folders and permanently save your search results to them.  The Shared Folder feature allows you to share your custom folders with other users such as your students or colleagues.  For more information, see the following:

Training Resources

Find tutorials and other classroom resources on the EBSCO Support Site.


EBSCO provides a collection of video and PowerPoint tutorials on the EBSCO Help site in the Training & Promotion section for each product. You can also register for live training sessions through WebEx, or view recorded training sessions.

Scavenger Hunts

Browse our collection of scavenger hunts that can help teachers familiarize their students with the content and features of EBSCO’s databases.