Thursday, February 28, 2013

March Wonderopolis #WonderChat

"Be curious always!  For Knowledge will not acquire you; you must acquire it." -Sudie Back

The monthly Wonderopolis #WonderChat is back for March.  The hour long chat will be held this Monday, March 4th from 8-9pm EST.  We will be discussing using Wonderopolis and wondering to help guide, encourage, engage and inspire inquiry and research.  Please plan on joining in the discussion on Monday night to share what you are doing to engage your students in inquiry and research!  Be sure to check out the 2012-2013 #WonderChat schedule.

My students have been working on research and creating their own Wonders in our 2nd grade class.  Below is an example of a Wonder that a student created.  We used Wonderopolis as a mentor text and to help guide our format when publishing on our class website.
Why are snakes legless? by Sam

Have you ever wondered?
  • Why are snakes legless?
  • Why do snakes have forked tongues?
  • How long do two-headed snakes live?
Did you know?
Did you know that snakes used to have arms and legs.  They couldn't move that fast, so over time they lost their legs and arms so they could move faster.

You might be surprised to learn that some two-headed snakes have been know to live up to twenty years.

You might be interested to know snakes don't have ordinary tongues.  They see using something inside their mouth.

Wonder Words 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Nonfiction Top Ten: #nf10for10

Thank you Cathy at Reflect and Refine, Julie at Write at the Edge and Mandy Enjoy and Embrace Learning for organizing this nonfiction picture book event.  Below are some of my favorite nonfiction picture books and Wonders from Wonderopolis to go along with each book.

Me... Jane 
by Patrick McDonnell
This book is an inspiring story.  It describes Jane Goodall's life as a child exploring and wondering with her stuffed chimpanzee.  I love everything about this book!  Wonder #566 Why Is It So Fun To Monkey Around? shares a bit of information about Jane Goodall's work with chimpanzees.

Just Kids Pictures, Poems and Other Silly Animal Stuff Just for Kids 
complied by Bonnie Louise Kuchler
I'm not sure if this is truly considered nonfiction as each page features an animal, poem and text about the animal.  One of the animals featured in the book is an owl and goes perfectly with Wonder #816 Who Is the Wisest Bird?.

Hunters of the Night 
by Elaine Landau
This book follows raccoons, big cats, owls, bats, snakes, alligators and crocodiles through their life at night, what they eat, their predators and 'fun facts'.  Kids love look at the real photographs and reading about them.  This book would could easily be paired with Wonder #305 Why Would You Hike At Night?.

A Rainbow of Animals
by Melissa Stewart
This book is organized by color and animals that are that color.  After each section, there is a map that shows where each animal of that color is located.  The text is very simple, so this is a great book to get students thinking and wondering about animals and their colors.  One of the animals featured in the orange section of the book is the panther chameleon.  While many of the featured animals could go along with a Wonder, I would use Wonder #651 Why Do Chameleons Change Their Colors?.  This Wonder helps explain in more detail how and why chameleons change colors.

What is a reptile? and What is an amphibian?
by Feana Tu'akoi

This is a 'flip me over book' that kids love to look at the photographs and read over and over again.  The book helps children to understand what amphibians and reptiles are and how they are classified.  For example it says, "If it has webbed feet, it is an amphibian.  Not always...."  Then goes on share how ducks, pelicans and otters have webbed feet, but are not amphibians.  After your students learn what a reptile is, be sure to visit Wonder #365 How Do Fangs Work?.  My students loved reading this Wonder.

Now & Ben The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin
by Gene Barretta
I love how this book is organized and would be a great mentor text in showing students different ways to organize their own writing.  Each of Benjamin Franklin's inventions are first introduced as the 'now' and how we currently use them and as 'then' showing exactly what he invented.  After reading about Benjamin Franklin's inventions use Wonder #99 What Is a Patent? to help students learn about this process.

Animals Nobody Loves
by Seymour Simon
I had a hard time choosing just one Seymour Simon books.  I chose this book because kids enjoy learning about the animals they love, but adults don't seem to love.  The real photographs in this book help capture why adults don't love these creatures and draw students in.  One animal Seymour Simon features is the bat.  Learn more about this creature and how they use sound waves with Wonder #378 Do Bats Need Maps?

by Nic Bishop
Like Seymour Simon, I had a hard time choosing one favorite Nic Bishop book.  His books combine interesting topics with fabulous photographs which makes any child want to read.  If you are having a hard time engaging students with nonfiction books, trying introducing them to Nic Bishop.  Like Wonder #188 Are Frogs and Toads the Same? this book discusses the difference between frogs and today.

Looking at Lincoln
by Maira Kalman
I've shared this book several times on this blog.  I enjoy the way this book is organized and the information shared.  It is also written in a child friendly manner.  The information the author shares are the things students are interested in.  Wonder #132 Where Was Abraham Lincoln Born? is a great addition to this book.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Presidents' Day Wonders at Wonderopolis

#36 How Did the Teddy Bear Get Its Name?
This Wonder shares one reason Theodore Roosevelt is remembered.  Spend some time reading or learning about other ways Theodore Roosevelt or other presidents are remembered.  For older students you could have them work together researching what different presidents are remembered for.  After sharing this Wonder, I shared the picture book, The Camping Trip That Changed America by Barb Rosenstock.

#132 Where Was Abraham Lincoln Born?
After learning about Abraham Lincoln's birth place and some of his early years in the Wonder, Looking at Lincoln by Maira Kelaman is a wonderful picture book to share.  Parts of the story is told in question/answer format.  Students will learn about Lincoln's love of reading, his height, his family, the Civil War, the Gettysburg Address and his assassination.

#140 Are All Cherries Red?
While most of this Wonder is about cherries, it shares the myth behind George Washington and the famous cherry tree.  When sharing this Wonder, I will be visiting this webpage, Facts & Falsehoods About George Washington at the Mount Vernon website.  Students will most certainly find these myths about George Washington interesting.  This is also a good Wonder to use with #142 below.

#141 What Is Presidents' Day?
Besides using this Wonder to talk about Presidents' Day and how the day came about, this would be a great Wonder to discuss President's Day vs. Presidents' Day and why we use an apostrophe to show possession.

#142 Did George Washington Have Wooden Teeth?
This is a great Wonder about two specific myths about George Washington.  It would be a great spring board for discussing what a myth is and having students research myths they have heard.  I also found this great lesson and quiz called, George Washington's Teeth.

#429 How Tall Is the Washington Monument?
I used this Wonder when talking about U.S. Symbols.  Be sure to check out the 'Try it out!' section to take a virtual tour of other U.S. Symbols and monuments in Washington, D.C.

The Wonder shares an overview as to why each president was chosen to be on Mount Rushmore.  This would be a good Wonder to have students pick four presidents from the last 86 years who represent United States history and persuade why they should be included in on a monument.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Digital Learning Day 2013 - Interview About Wonderopolis

In honor of Digital Learning Day 2013, I decided to ask a few students about one of our favorite classroom websites, Wonderopolis.  They shared why they like using Wonderopolis as a digital learning tool in our classroom, what their favorite Wonders are and why other classes should use it.
Several students helped with the recording (sorry for the unstable hands) and in editing the clips.  As we were recording, they asked if they could ask me questions.  They were so excited to interview me!  
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Be sure to join #EdTechChat tonight and share how you use Wonderopolis and other digital learning tools in your classroom!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Wonders to Use For Black History Month

#726 Who Invented Potato Chips?
This is a great Wonder to learn about how an African American, George Crum accidentally invented the potato chip in 1853 because of a complaint made by a customer.  I am going to use this Wonder as a spring board during an upcoming opinion/persuasive writing unit.  After reading the Wonder, I'm going to encourage kids to write about their favorite potato chip and give reasons as to why it's the best chip.

#612 Where Is Motown?
Some of Motown's popular acts are included in this Wonder.  Have students get into groups and do some research on these famous African-American musicians, and share with the class.

#536 Who Were the Tuskegee Airmen?
The 'Try it out!' section has a link to an online photo gallery of Tuskegee Airmen.  Print some of these pictures and do a See, Think, Wonder.

#470 What Is a Civil Right? and #241 What Does It Mean To Stand For Something?
These two Wonders go hand-in-hand for Black History month.  They are perfect to pair together or to pair with one of the following picture books, The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson, Child of the Civil Rights Movement by Paula Young Shelton, Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles, Freedom on the MenuSit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Pinkney, or The Bus Ride that Changed History by Pamela Duncan Edwards.

#143 Who Was George Washington Carver?
I'm going to use this Wonder for reviewing main idea and supporting details.  There are lots of supporting details in the Wonder about why George Washington Carver was an African-American hero.

#138 What Was the Underground Railroad?
This is a great Wonder to build background knowledge and initiate a discussion about the Underground Railroad.  It also discusses one of the most important "conductors", Harriet Tubman.  This Wonder would be great paired with Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine, Secret Signs: An Escape Through the Underground Railroad by Anita Riggio, and Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson.

#106 Who Was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.?
There are many dates given in the this Wonder that would be useful in creating a timeline of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s life.  You could assign groups of students a time or event in Dr. King's life, have them research it, and share out to the class.

Other Black History Month Resources:

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Join #EdTechChat on Digital Learning Day 2013

In honor of Digital Learning Day 2013, we have canceled the February Wonderopolis #WonderChat and are excited to be joining Verizon Foundation in its first ever #EdTechChat.  The Twitter chat will be held on Wednesday, February 6th at 8:00 PM Eastern Standard Time.  The topic will center around digital tools being used to promote student growth.

According Justina Nixon-Saintil, Director of Education at Verizon Foundation,  "We have invested in education initiatives that inspire and support teachers to effectively integrate technology in the classroom, all leading positive impact on student achievement", so it only seems natural that @VerizonGiving will be moderating the #EdTechChat on Wednesday.

Come join @Wonderoplis, the Wonder Leads and Thinkfinity partners as we discuss and share digital learning tools on Wednesday at 8:00 PM EST.  Don't forget to use the #EdTechChat hashtag while tweeting.

If you are new to Twitter Chats, be sure to check out this blog post by Christopher Lehman here.

Wonderopolis #WonderChat will resume on March 4th.