Wednesday, August 29, 2012

September #WonderChat

Join #WonderChat Monday, September 3rd at 8:00 PM EST for the first monthly Twitter Chat of the 2012-2013 school year.  This month's hour long chat will focus on starting the school year using Wonderopolis and wondering.  If you use Wonderopolis in your classroom, are going to try using it in your classroom this year, have ways to share how you started the school year using it or just need some ideas of how to get started, plan on joining the chat Monday night.  Don't forget to use the hashtag #WonderChat.  I'm looking forward to a WONDERful chat!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

#684 Are You Talented? Our Second Wonder of the Day

I use Wonderopolis on a daily basis in my classroom.  Last week, I started on the first day of school using it with my first reading workshop mini-lesson.  On the second day of school, I used Wonder #684 Are You Talented? to help students learn about each other and begin building our classroom community, by sharing their different interests and talents.  It was informative as a teacher to learn about the different talents my students possess and interests they have.  This will be helpful as I begin matching students with books and helping them with their writing, especially those reluctant readers and writers.

Tuesday, was also the first day that I got to try out the student form I created to use with Wonderopolis.  For our first "Wonder Word" I chose the word "talented."  After having students share their many talents, they were easily able to write what they thought the word "talented" meant.  It was also an excellent opportunity for me to quickly plant the seed for root words and suffixes.

After sharing their talents with the class, I took the opportunity to show my new second graders how easy it is to leave a comment at Wonderopolis.  They were so excited to see me typing their name and talent in the comment we left.  They were even more excited to see the WONDERful response Wonderopolis left us.  One student even said, "you mean my name and talent is on the internet?"  He was in awe by just having his name and talent in the comment section.

Friday, August 24, 2012

First Day of School Wonder - Reading Workshop Mini-Lesson

This year, I am trying to use some past Wonders that tie into what I am teaching.  Last weekend, I spent time compiling a list of past Wonders to use throughout the year and started using the list on the first day of school.  On Monday, I shared Wonder #611 Do You Judge a Book by Its Cover?  The Wonder is about judging books by the way their cover looks, how to choose books, and what exactly the idiom means.

My first mini-lesson for reading workshop was, "growing readers" choose books that interest them.  Wonder #611 worked perfectly with this lesson.  We discussed why and how we judge books by their cover and how the cover usually tells us what the book is going to be about, which tells us whether we may or may not be interested in the book.  It was especially helpful for my students to hear from Wonderopolis that, "Of course, when you're looking for a new book, the first thing you're likely to see is the book's cover.  A book's cover is like a an advertisement.  It's supposed to intrigue you, give you an idea of what the book is about..."  Furthermore, in the Try It Out section of the Wonder, Wonderopolis gave some helpful tips for students when looking for new books.  The first tip encouraged students by saying, "Follow your interests!"

The books I read aloud the first week of school for reading workshop always focus on books.  Wild About Books by Judy Sierra was the book I chose to read aloud on the first day of school.  The books is about Molly the librarian who introduces reading to the animals at the zoo when she accidentally drives her bookmobile into the zoo.  She helps each animal choose the perfect book.  My students noticed that many of the books the animals chose to read are books that would interest those animals, which tied perfectly with the mini-lesson and Wonder.

An additional resource you may want to check out to help with reading workshop mini-lessons at the beginning of the year is, Choosing the Right Book: Strategies for Beginning Readers (K-2) from Read Write Think.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Wonders to Use Throughout the Year

On Friday, I was talking with a colleague who is planning on using Wonderopolis in her classroom on a daily basis for the first time this year.  I was sharing some Wonders with her that I thought would be useful to use during the school year.  I offered to compile a list for her and my second grade team.  I thought they may be useful for others too.

Wonders for Building a Classroom Community
A Wonder to Share at Open House or Curriculum Night with Parents
Reading Workshop
Writing Workshop 
Famous Americans
American Symbols
Map Skills
U.S. Holidays
General Science
Animal Adaptations

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wondering at Open House

Open House is always an exciting time!  I am always nervous, anxious and excited to meet my new second graders.  As always tonight during Open House I had a checklist of things to have my students check out in their new classroom.  They included the traditional things such as, finding their cubby and putting their supplies at their new seat.  One new addition to the checklist was for students to write a wonder they have about their new class, their new teacher (me) and their new school (they were previously at a K-1 building) and place it in our class Wonder Jar.  Next week I will pull out their wonders and answer them.  In addition to the Wonder Jar, students were encouraged to check out Wonderopolis on our class iPad.  As illustrated in the pictures, I set these things up on a little table in our class library.  By including these two additions to my Open House routine, students will be starting the year off wondering and be familiar with Wonderopolis on Monday when they come in and see it projected on our board.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Wondering Through the Zoo

Today we took advantage of a cloudy, cool summer day and visited The Cincinnati Zoo.  We've been to the zoo many times over the years, but haven't spent as much time wondering as we did today.  Before going on any family or school zoo trip, I encourage you to visit Wonderopolis to build background knowledge and encourage wondering.  Below are some of the animals and insects we saw and the Wonders that we associated with them.

This Wonder and bird is a favorite at our house.  We wondered how many people visiting the zoo today know why flamingos are pink.  The first Wonder tells why, #1 Why Are Flamingos Pink?

This is Sarah.  She beat the world record for the standing 100-meter dash.  We were fortunate to watch her run and get this picture.  We already knew the cheetah was the fastest animal on Earth, thanks to Wonder #633 Can a Human Outrun a Cheetah?

We loved this gorilla!  We couldn't tell if he/she was sleeping or fooling around.  It reminded us of Wonder #566 Why Is It So Fun To Monkey Around?

While visiting the Insect House, we found some new bugs we had never heard of.  On the left are bat cave cockroaches and on the right are taxicab beetles.  We were reminded of 2012 Camp What-a-Wonder's Wonder #652 Where Do Bugs Sleep? while visiting the insect habitats.

There are two really cool exhibits in the insect house.  One is of honey bees.  As you can see below the bee colony goes outside to collect their nectar and pollen and then brings it back inside.  There are two wonderful Wonders that go with the bee exhibit, #51 What Do Bees Do in Winter? and #621 How Many Flowers Can a Bee Pollinate?

The second really cool exhibit is a leaf cutter ant exhibit.  There is a big glass enclosure when you enter the insect house and then tubes run throughout the building up near the ceiling that lead to another glass enclosure of more ants.  Everywhere you go, you can see the ants at work.  Wonder #258 Why Do Ants Think They're Invited To Picnics? goes perfectly with this cool exhibit.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Third Annual Picture Book 10 for 10 Event

I'm excited to be taking part in the Third Annual Picture Book 10 for 10 event again this year.  Thank you Cathy Mere at Reflect & Refine and Mandy Robek at Enjoy and Embrace Learning for organizing and hosting!

Miss Smith's Incredible Storybook
by Michael Garland
This book is the first in a series about a second grade teacher that reads from an "incredible storybook".  When she reads from the book, the stories come to life.  I read this book at the beginning of the year during reading workshop and a discussion ensues about books coming to life in our minds.  We also discuss the importance of getting a picture in our mind.

2.  Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge
by Mem Fox
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge is about a boy lives next to a retirement home.  One of his favorite residents, Miss Nancy Alison Delacourt Cooper (who also has four names) has lost her memory.  Wilfrid asks everyone what a "memory" is.  He then helps Miss Nancy find her memory.  I use this book at the beginning of the year as we make an anchor chart titled, "Growing Writers" write about....  This is the book I read for, Growing Writers write about their memories.

Pete the Cat Rocking in my School Shoes
by Eric Litwin

Pete the Cat has such a catchy tune.  The book is about a cat the goes "rocking" in his school shoes all around school.  After going on a tour of our school last year, my second graders brainstormed things at our school that Pete may do.  They each picked a thing and made their own page of a class big book.  This was a fun activity that we will be repeating this year.

Brave Irene by William Steig
This is a great story about perseverance.  Irene sets out during a snow storm to get a gown to the the duchess for her sick mother.  I used this book as a mentor text in both reading and writing workshop.

Looking at Lincoln 
by Maria Kalman
This is a great story of Abraham Lincoln.  Some of the story is told in a question/answer format.  After the question is asked, the answer is expanded upon.  The book discusses Abraham Lincoln's life including, his love for reading, his height, his family, the Civil War, the Gettysburg Address and finally his assassination. 

The Camping Trip That Changed America by Barb Rosenstock
This is a great story about how President Theodore Roosevelt went camping with naturalist John Muir in what is now Yosemite National Park.  During the camping trip John Muir tried to convince the president to help protect the land. Thus, changing America by establishing the National Parks.

Press Here by Herve Tullet
This is a fun, engaging and interactive book.  Students are encouraged to press the dots and see what happens to the dots on the next page.  I must admit that while reading this book the first time, I found myself playing along and pressing "here".  This was a favorite in my class last year.
Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner
This is a story within a story.  The story is about a girl and father cross country skiing through a forest.  The story within is what happens under and over the snow with animals during the winter months.  The illustrations also show what the animals are doing under and above the snow.  The book gives just enough detail about each animal to hook a student to want to learn more about them.

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
This book is about a bear and a rabbit.  The text is simple, but don't let the fool you.  The bear's hat is missing and he asks all the animals he comes across if they have seen it.  One animal (the rabbit) took his hat and meets an unfortunate event because of this.  My kids loved this book (maybe because I loved it???).  We talked and discussed many angles from this book such as, what would have happened had the rabbit been honest?  I can't wait to share this with my new second graders.

Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell
The book describes Jane Goodall as a child and all the exploring and wondering Jane did with her stuffed chimpanzee.  These adventures are what later led her to do her research with chimpanzees.  One page describes some of the wondering and exploring she did, "One day, curious Jane wondered where eggs came from.  So she and Jubilee snuck into Grandma Nutt's chicken coop....."  The simple text makes this picture book an easy read aloud for children of any age group.  The book can be used to encourage Wonder, as an introduction to biographies, to teach children the love of nature, following your dreams and many others.   

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Book Lover's Day

Yesterday, I blogged about National Dollar Day and Wonders of the Day at Wonderopolis that went with the day.  According to The Ultimate Holiday Site, today is, Book Lover's Day.  I love books of all kinds, so today is a WONDERful day for me!  Below are some Wonders that go along with Book Lover's Day and some of my favorite blogs for Book Lovers.

While compiling these Wonders, I began thinking about what a great resource they are for my second grade classroom.  I can't wait to share them!
Wonders for Book Lovers:
Blogs for Book Lovers:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

National Dollar Day

According to The Ultimate Holiday Site today is National Dollar Day.  Why is August 8th, National Dollar Day?  According to the website, on August 8, 1786 Continental Congress, "established the United States monetary system."  I found some Wonders of the Day at Wonderopolis that go with National Dollar Day:

These Wonders would also be great for President's Day or for a study on George Washington.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Student Forms to Use With Wonderopolis

Last year as part of my morning routine students wrote about Wonderopolis' Wonder of the Day in Wonder Journals.  Because of budget cuts in my district, I am not sure if we will get any student journals, so I began thinking of an alternative to using journals in my second grade classroom.

My teaching partner and I talked and decided to create a form to put in a Wonder of the Day folder.  She created the first one below that we will be using at the beginning of the year and I created the second one that we will use later in the year.

We discussed what parts of the Wonder we thought were important and tried to incorporate those into the forms.  Some features we want students to think about are: their thinking about the Wonder before reading it, based on the question posed and picture, new learning after reading over the Wonder as a class and the Wonder Words.

At the beginning of the year, we will be posting a word from the Wonder that we want students to learn as we read over the Wonder.  At the beginning of the year (the first form), students will be writing what they think the word means based on what they Wonder is.  Later in the year, we would like students to write their own definition of the Wonder Word and use it in their own sentence after going over the Wonder.  Wonderopolis' is an excellent resource for helping to build vocabulary.

I'm excited to use these forms in a Wonder Folder this year and see how it impacts student learning.  Feel free to email me if you would like me to send you either form.