Saturday, September 29, 2012

October #WonderChat

As educators, we know that the home-school connection is important to a student's academic success.  One way that I encourage the home-school connection in my classroom is by using Wonderopolis.  This month's #WonderChat will focus on that connection.  Please join this month's co-host, Wonder Lead Maria and I in discussing the connection between home and school using Wonderopolis and wondering.  The Twitter Chat will be this Monday night, October 1st from 8:00-9:00 PM Eastern Standard Time.  Please be sure to use the #WonderChat hashtag.  Come share ideas, connect with others using Wonderopolis in their classroom and ask questions.

You may want to check out last month's #WonderChat archive to see what the chat is all about.

We look forward to a WONDERful chat Monday night!

Friday, September 21, 2012

#WonderChat 2012-2013 Schedule

Below are the dates and topics for the 2012-2013 Wonderopolis #WonderChat on Twitter.  Each chat is held on the first Monday of the month from 8:00-9:00 PM Eastern Standard Time.  Feel free to join the conversation, share ideas and ask questions if you are using Wonderopolis in your classroom or at home with your own children.

October 1st - Using Wonderopolis and wondering to extend learning at home (making the home-school connection).  Fellow Wonder Lead, Maria Caplin will be co-hosting with me.

November 5th - Using Wonderopolis with the Common Core State Standards.  The discussion will focus on how Wonderopolis can be used to help implement and meet the CCSS.

December 3rd - Using Wonderopolis and wondering in a secondary classroom.  Paul Hankins will be a guest host.

January 7th - Using Wonderopolis as a mentor text and sharing other books that encourage wondering.

February 4th - Using Wonderopolis to as a digital learning tool.

March 4th - Using Wonderopolis and wondering to inspire/encourage/engage students in inquiry and research.

April 15th - Using Wonderopolis and wondering as a spring board for writing.  An emphasis for this chat will be on poetry, since April is National Poetry Month.  Amy Ludwig VanDerwater from The Poem Farm

May 6th - Wonder Jars - We will be discussing ideas for making and using them in and out of the classroom.

June 3rd - Using Wonderopolis and Wonder to engage and continue student learning over the summer.

If you are new to Twitter Chats or are a "Lurker", like I once was, you may want to check out this great blog post by Christopher Lehman, So You Think You Want to Tweet Chat: From Lurker to Chatter 101.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Wonderize It!

One of the coolest, most practical features of the new and improved Wonderopolis website is the Wonderizer.  You can customize the Wonder to meet your specific classroom needs.  Below are the steps for using 'Wonderize It!' in your classroom.

When you go to the Wonderopolis home page, there is a yellow icon below the Wonder of the Day.

Once you have clicked on the 'Wonderize It!' icon you will be taken to the 'Wonderize It!' page.  There you can choose which features you would like to have in your customized Wonder.  All you have to do is drag the icons in the drop boxes below them.  You can drop as few or as many icons as you would like.

In the screenshot below, I chose to drop the 'Ever Wonder?' questions and the photo that goes with the Wonder of the Day.  Then I clicked, 'Save & See My Changes'.

Below is the screenshot of the Wonder that I Wonderized.  I will be using the Wonderizer to customize the Wonder like this each morning when my students come in to start their day.
A few ideas for using the 'Wonderize It':
  • You could do a See, Think, Wonder with one of the pictures before going over the Wonder or studying a new concept/topic.
  • If you want student to only focus on the photo and the text in the Wonder, you could drop those two icons.
  • If you want students to use the vocabulary/Wonder Words for a specific project, you can drop that icon.
The possibilities are endless with the new feature!  I can't wait to experiment and explore all of the possible uses in my 2nd grade classroom.  Please share a comment if you have a way you are using/going to use the new 'Wonder It!' feature in your classroom.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Using Wonderopolis to Teach an Author's Craft - Similes

On Tuesday, I was excited to see the Wonder of the Day, #702 Are You Sly as a Fox? and knew immediately this would be the first author's craft I would introduce.  I started by having students write about the Wonder when they came in on Tuesday.  We then discussed the Wonder and talked about what a simile is.  On Wednesday, I shared Wonder #607 Are All Bullies Big? to continue working on building community in our classroom.  My students thought the video that went with the Wonder was hilarious (we even watched it twice).  We talked about what kind of similes we could use to describe the video.  Each student came up with a simile using the starter, "The video was as funny as..."  They quickly shared with each other and then those that wanted to share with Wonderopolis shared, while I typed.

Also, during the week, I shared two great mentor text for similes by Hanoch Piven.  The first, My Dog is as Smelly as Dirty Socks and the second, My Best Friend is as Sharp as a Pencil.  After each read, we talked about why a growing writer would use similes and how we could use them in our own writing.  Students also practiced writing similes during the week.
On Friday, we added simile as our first author's craft to our class anchor chart for students to refer to and use in their own writing throughout the year.

Check out these ideas for teaching similes at 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Wondering About Our Names - The First Week of School

In a previous blog post, I shared past Wonders that would be great to use throughout the year.  One of those Wonders I listed to use in building community at the beginning of the year was, #681 What's in a Name.  I used this Wonder along with two favorite books during the first week of school.  When sharing the Wonder, we talked about how we got our names, whether we liked our names and that often times names having meaning.  Some students knew how they got their names and what they meant, while others didn't.  Those that didn't, I encouraged to go home and ask why they were given their name and what it meant.

Later in the day to connect with the Wonder, I shared the book, The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi.  This is a book I have with previous classes early in the year to talk about differences in students.  The story is about a young girl from Korea named, Unhei (which means, grace)  On her first day of school, her teacher asked her what her name was.  After thinking about being teased on the school bus, she tells the teacher she hasn't chosen one yet.  All of the children in her class are glad to share possible American names in her Name Jar.  After making friends with a boy named, Joey and with a little help from Mr. Kim (the owner of the Korean food store), she decides to keep her own Korean name.

Another book that I shared later in the week was, My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits.  This story is about another little girl from Korea, named Yoon.  Here name means, Shining Wisdom.  Yoon does not like how her name looks in english, so she refuses to print it when her teacher asks her to.  Instead, she writes CAT, BIRD and CUPCAKE.  Finally, after meeting a new friend on the playground and her teacher giving her the eyes that said, "I-like-this-girl-Yoon," Yoon decides that she will print her name in English.

While both books are excellent to share by themselves during the first few weeks of school to discuss differences, teasing, filling left out and including others, they fit perfectly with Wonder #681 to encourage children to think about their own names.

After the fact, I thought about having students interview their parents to find out how they got their name and research what their name means, including the origin.  This would be a great first homework assignment and a way to get to know the students in my class better.