Wednesday, October 31, 2012

November #WonderChat

With the onset of the Common Core State Standards, I have been trying to include more nonfiction text into my second grade classroom.  According to the standards in 4th grade, students should be reading 50% literary text and 50% informational text.  By 8th grade, 45% literary and 55% information.  Finally, by 12th grade the criteria should be 30% literary and 70% informational text.  One resource, of many I have been using to integrate more nonfiction into my second grade classroom is Wonderopolis.  Wonderopolis can be one resource to help meet many of the Common Core State Standards.  

I am excited to announce the November Twitter #WonderChat will focus around using Wonderopolis to help meet the Common Core State Standards.  How are you using Wonderopolis and Wonder to meet the Common Core State Standards and standards within your district and classroom?  Join and share in some wonderful virtual professional development!

Please join the November #WonderChat Monday, November 5th from 8:00-9:00 PM EST to learn and share about using Wonderopolis to meet Common Core State Standards and district and classroom standards.

If you are using Wonderopolis in your classroom and haven't already done so, you might want to join the group Wonderopolis for Educators at  You also might want to check out the 2012-2013 #WonderChat Schedule.

Looking forward to discussing Wonderopolis and how you use it to meet standards this Monday night, November 5th from 8:00-9:00 PM EST.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Using Wonderopolis for a Spook-tacular Writing Workshop Lesson

Writing workshop is well under way in my second grade classroom.  Recently, our mini-lessons have centered around "word choice", and "showing, not just telling".  Furthermore, our word work practice last week centered around synonyms, so we talked about "so, so" words that we could jazz up a bit by replacing them with a synonym.  While reading aloud to my class, students have been busy jotting down words they would like to try to use in their own writing, and we talked about how those words could be used, and what types of words they can replace in their own writing.

Wonder of the Day #752 Do You Get Spooked Easily? went perfectly with all of the recent work we have been doing in writing workshop.  First, the Wonder provided many synonyms for the word scared, including frightened, alarmed terrified, startled, unnerved, and petrified.  It also provided some phrases that describes being scared.  I can't count how many times students have come to me with a story that says, I was so so so scared. The Wonder was a perfect opportunity to model a different choice.

As a class we made a list of words to use instead of scared, including the words Wonderopolis provided us with.  We then spent a few minutes individually writing sentences using those synonyms and some phrases.  Some students used the phrases provided by Wonderopolis, while others used some they created on their own.  Some of the phrases students came up with to show they were scared were:
  • I was startled so badly that my heart pounded out of my chest.
  • I was so terrified that my guts came out.
  • I was so unnerved that I got the worst goosebumps of my life.
I did name that many of the phrases students were making up were a hyperbole.  Although we haven't spent time on this author's craft yet, I did feel the need to name the craft for students.  Many students were excited to be learning such a "cool" word.

If you are looking for some more lessons on synonyms, check out these synonym resources from readwritethink.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

How Far Will a Paper Airplane Fly?

I'm not exactly sure how the topic of paper airplanes came up, but when it did my students wanted to know if there was a Wonder about them.  I told them there was, and we would visit the Wonder on a nice, warm fall day.  That day finally came last Wednesday.  For a Wonder Wednesday activity, we read Wonder #626 How Far Can a Paper Airplane Fly?, used the Try it out! section to make our own symmetrical airplanes, wondered about our airplanes before flying them, wrote and shared some learning, and finally wrote and shared some wonders we had when after we finished flying our airplanes.

Although last Wednesday was a beautiful fall day, it was also very windy.  This didn't lend itself to flying paper airplanes.  Funny enough before going outside to fly our airplanes, many students thought and predicted the wind would assist in the flying of the airplanes  The children soon found out that the wind caused their airplanes to do all sorts of crazy things.

This was a great learning opportunity to review symmetry, predict or wonder about what was going to happen, test out their wonders and then share their learning.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Using Wonderopolis to Help Teach Graphing

In second grade, graphing is a math unit we get to later in the school year.  I've chosen to use two Wonders of the Day as a way to introduce, give students a foundation of data collection and graphing, and as a natural tie-in to our morning use of Wonderopolis.  The first Wonder of the Day we collected data and made a graph with was, Wonder #705 What's Your Favorite Breakfast Cereal?  The second, we visited past Wonder #474 Which Dessert Takes the Cake?
In addition to the students usual morning routine, they got a post note and wrote and/or drew their favorite cereal or dessert.  As they came up to the floor to go over the Wonder, we created a graph together, including choosing categories and the title.  We also reviewed the data and the graph together. Orally, I asked questions about the graph.  Questions I asked included, which category had the fewest/greatest, how many more certain categories had than others, and if we added two categories together how much would we have.  Later in the year, I may have students write observations in their math journals.
Other Wonders that I may use as the year progresses to help with graphing skills are:
#743 What's Your Favorite Halloween Costume?
#712 When Is Your Half Birthday?
#684 Are You Talented?
#463 What's the Best Thing To Do on a Snow Day?
#427 What's Your Favorite Holiday Cookie?
#354 What's Your Favorite Ice Cream Flavor?
#207 What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?
#177 What Is the Best After-School Snack?
#17 What Would You Plant in Your Garden?
#15 What Is Your Secret Superhero Identity?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Discussing Wonders via Skype

Last week, my class was fortunate to connect with Mrs. Rosenquist's 2nd grade class on Long Island in New York.  Each class took a few minutes to share some information about where we were from, our schools and classrooms.  The conversation then turned to Wonderopolis.  Both classes shared some of their favorite Wonders and learning from Wonderopolis.  Ironically, both classes shared about Wonder #607, Are All Bullies Big?  This is a great Wonder to share with children of all ages and was obviously a big hit with two 2nd grade classes.  We shared Wonder #704, Can One Man Be a Band? (another class favorite) and Wonder #718, Have You Ever Been to the Big Apple?, when we found out that their school is located about an hour from New York City with Mrs. Rosenquist's class.

Thank you for a wonderful Skype visit, Mrs. Rosenquist's class!  We look forward to connecting with our New York friends again, soon!

The pictures below were taken in our class and Mrs. Rosenquist's class.

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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Meeting Todd Parr via Skype

A little over a week ago, the second grade students at our school had the honor of meeting children's author and illustrator, Todd Parr via Skype.  This is the second year in a row we kicked off our Skyping with Todd Parr, and once again he didn't disappoint.  Each second grade class brainstormed things that they wondered about him.  During our Skype visit, he answered one question from each of the eight second grade classes.  Students learned where Todd gets ideas for his stories, how long it takes for him to get a book published, what his favorite children book to read is, what his favorite book is that he has written, and how he became an author.  As a special treat, we met both of his dogs.  He also read, Underwear Dos and Don'ts and his newest book, The Thankful Book (which he told us we were the first to hear him read it).http://

Prior to his visit I used a modified version of this lesson from Read Write Think, It's Okay to Be Different: Teaching Diversity With Todd Parr.

Some Wonders from Wondeorpolis that can be used with Todd Parr books are:

Enjoy the Smilebox below!  I chose the dog theme in honor of Todd Parr's love for dogs.  He shared that he would have LOTS of dogs if he had the room.
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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Happy Birthday, Wonderopolis!

Today, Wonderopolis celebrates its second birthday.  As I began planning a little celebration in my classroom for the milestone, I began reflecting on what the website has done for my students, my students' families, my own family and finally me as both an educator and learner.  During my thirteen years of teaching, I can't think of a more engaging resource for students of all ages (including, me).  I've spent time reflecting on favorite Wonders, the learning that has taken place, both inside and out of the classroom and the curiosity and exploration that Wonderopolis has ignited.  I can only hope the Wonders will continue for many more years to come!  Please be sure to leave a comment about what Wonderopolis has meant to you as a parent, educator or student over the past two years.
Enjoy watching our class celebration in the Smilebox below.
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