Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Wonder Wednesday

Prior to starting the school year, I wanted to incorporate weekly Wonder into my schedule (besides using Wonderopolis daily).  Last summer, I read about someone using Wonder Wednesday.  I honestly can't remember where I read it.  I decided to give Wonder Wednesdays a try.

To introduce Wonder Wednesday at the beginning of the year, we made a list of topics we wondered about and then as a class, we voted and chose one for our first Wonder Wednesday.  We asked questions and as a class looked for the answers to those questions.  I also created a form to help organize information (see below).  As a class we filled out the form as a shared experience.  Gradually as the year progressed students started forming their own small groups to work on their own Wonders on Wednesdays.

Each Wonder Wednesday begins like any other writing workshop, with a mini-lesson.  Some of the mini-lessons have included, how to write "focus" questions to help focus our wondering, what to do if you can't find the answer to one or more of your questions, what kinds/types of questions extend your thinking, how and where you get ideas for Wonders, and using a nonfiction book as a focus for wondering.

Each Wonder Wednesday includes a new Wonder.  Being that we do Wonder reading and writing at the most once a week, it is much easier if the students start with a new Wonder each time.  Occasionally, they will carry over a Wonder and finish it up on Thursday.  Most students have gotten very good at manage their time and using it wisely, so they can find out as much as possible.  If students are engaged (which they usually they are), we will carry the Wonder Wednesday into our science/social studies time.  We also usually carry over some of the sharing to Thursday and Friday.

By doing Wonder Wednesday, my students are interacting with more nonfiction text than they otherwise would.  According to Routman (Writing Essentials Raising Expectations and Results While Simplifying Teaching, 2005), "through reading nonfiction, students gather information, encounter writing models and ideas they can emulate, and come to understand the features of nonfiction texts" (p. 127).  I know they will be better readers, writers and thinkers in general from participating in each of our Wonder Wednesdays.

When reflecting on Wonder Wednesday and thinking ahead to next year, there are several things that I would like to incorporate or change.  One thing I would like to change is to have the students use the information gathered to create their own writing piece.  Currently, students are just gathering information and are not doing much with it.  I'm not sure that I will have them create something every week with their information gathered, maybe once a month.  I would like to have students take the information they have gathered and create their own book or maybe use Wonderopolis or other texts as a model for organizing their information.

Below is a Smilebox of some pictures and video I have taken during a few Wonder Wednesdays.  If you use Wonder Wednesday in your class, I would love to hear how you are organizing and using it.

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  1. I love this idea! What a great way to get kids "wondering" about their world. All too often I hear from teachers that their students are not "intellectually curious", that they don't question enough. This is a terrific way to instill that 'wonder'. By guiding them through the process you are setting the kids up for a lifelong skill! You students are probably asking more questions than ever.

    Your reflection of your year is great too. I think the students would love to do something with that information - share it with others. Do your students blog? Using Kidblog would be a great way to make the information learned to family and others. How about a Family Wonder Day - invite parents and family to come in and learn from their child or learn how to "wonder' too! Many possibilities.

    Your smile box was great as you can tell your students are eager and enthusiastic!

    You've got me hooked for Wonder Wednesdays.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Nancy,
    Thank you for your comments. "Wondering" is a great way to ignite the "life long" learner flame.
    I appreciate all of your suggestions. I have a class blog and my original plan was for my students to blog on it about our Wonder Wednesdays. Unfortunately our class computers are not very reliable and it too way too much of my time to monitor at the beginning of the year. My students could probably handle the independence now. I used Kidblog last year and plan on going back to it next year.
    Looking forward to hearing how "Wonder Wednesday" goes for you!

  3. Hi there-

    I saw a link to your blog on twitter, and thought it was a great idea. With a minor juggle in our schedule we easily incorporated the process, so my class has done WW the last 3 Wednesdays. It has been fantastic!

    To this point we have focused on topics related to our owl unit. I adapted your template for my grade 1's to include prompts about how to record their information. My students are doing independent and collaborative work to investigate their wonderings. Information they discovered in our first 3 weeks (via nf texts, teacher made resources, photos, youtube vids) was used as the foundation for a "kind of" dioramma they worked on at the end of last week. They are really keen on the process of going from a well thought out question, gathering information, sharing with and supporting partners, and using information for a final project. It is helping students connect the dots on "why" we read and write.

    Thanks so much for sharing! This has been an awesome addition to our program, a great way for students to pull together many of the pieces that we have worked on through the year.


  4. Celine,
    This made my day! Thank you so much for coming back and sharing! It's always nice to know that an idea I have works in other classrooms.

    I am amazed sometimes at what young students can do with just a little direction and modeling.

    Do you have a class blog or personal blog where you have shared this?