Tapping into the World of Wonder

wondering-kid

Mysteries

The mysteries of the world are myriad.

Sometimes they look like little balls of butter.

Sometimes they clump together in the shape of South America.

The mysteries of the world puzzle us.

They make us take our glasses off and look so close

we dust our noses with them.

The mysteries of the world hold hidden ripeness.

Each might contain a new life,

or the possibility to change the weather patterns of the entire world.

The mysteries of the world cast shadows.

Hovering above, they block the sun

and send a chill through us as they pass over.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

A Year of Reading blog: https://readingyear.blogspot.com

Why?

Young students are full of wonder.  They ask why.  Why is the sky blue?  Why do stars twinkle? Why does a hurricane form?

As teachers, we should tap into this world of wonder with our students.  A few years ago, I discovered Wonderopolis.  This is a nonprofit website organized for discovery of our young readers.  Each Wonder is something people are naturally curious about.  Each article is set up with engaging elements such as links, videos, images, and quizzes.  

Wonder Wednesday

I incorporated Wonder Wednesday into my weekly reading/ writing curriculum.  At first, I projected the Wonder of the Day, and we would navigate, read, and discuss together as a class. Once my students became accustomed to the site, I asked them to choose their own Wonders to explore.  

My students approach each Wonder post with three guiding questions:

  1. What do you already know?
  2. What did you learn?
  3. What will you do with this information?

While they are reading and writing, I am close by to answer questions, but most of the time my students just want me to share in their wonder.  “Mrs. Simon, did you know that stars twinkle because of light refraction?”

“Really, what else do you know that’s created by refraction?”

Conversations happen naturally.  My students are ready to share what they learn with others. This is where Kidblog comes in.

The question, “What are you going to do with this information?” leads my students to think about audience and presentation.  There are many presentation platforms available to them.  One of their favorites is Animoto. Students can select the design and music to reflect the topic of their wonder.  Then they can search images online and upload them into their video.  These videos can be embed into a Kidblog post, so my students can easily share their creations.  

A spark of wonder

I use a simple rubric for grading these assignments.  My main goal is synthesis of information.  I want my students to read, absorb, evaluate, and respond to each wonder they explore.  By encouraging my students to wonder about their world, to question why, and to be communicators of their learning, I am able to incorporate multiple learning goals into Wonder Wednesday. When they share this learning, they pass along a spark of wonder.  

About the Author
Margaret Simon lives on the Bayou Teche in New Iberia, Louisiana. Margaret has a Masters degree in Gifted Education and certification by the National Boards for Professional Teaching Standards. She received the Donald Graves Award for teaching writing from NCTE in 2014. Her young readers novel, Blessen, was published by Border Press in April, 2012. She blogs regularly at http://reflectionsontheteche.wordpress.com.

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