Sunday, October 27, 2013

November Wonderopolis #WonderChat

In celebration of Family Literacy month, we are excited to have Peter H. Reynolds as a special guest host for the November Wonderopolis #WonderChat.  The chat will take place Monday, November 4th from 8:00-9:00 PM Eastern Standard Time.  We will be discussing what a WONDERful and wonder-filled classroom looks like and how to inspire students to wonder and write.  In addition, Peter will be sharing how to inspire and nurture innovation and creativity in ALL learners.

Peter's books The Dot, Ish, Rose's Garden, I'm Here, So Few of Me, The North Star, Sky color, and his latest book The Smallest Gift of Christmas, inspire children and "grown up children" with his messages about authentic learning, creativity, bravery, empathy, and courageous self-expression.

Peter also inspires teachers and students from around the world to "make your mark" by participating in International Dot Day.  This year's Dot Day had over 1.3 million participants in over 84 countries.

To help inspire educators and school leaders, Peter and his twin brother Paul, launched the Reynolds Center for Teaching, Learning and Creativity (TLC).  The center is a not-for-profit organization that encourages creativity in innovation in teaching and learning.  It is dedicated to ensuring that all learners develop the vision of confidence, knowledge, and skills needed to move their own lives forward, and to use their talents, strengths, and energy to move their communities and the world to better place.

We look forward to having Peter share his vast knowledge Monday, November 4th at 8:00 PM and look forward to you joining the conversation!  Be sure to use the hashtag #WonderChat!

"I'm optimistic about a future where all children are encouraged to navigate their true potential.  We have to be creative in the ways we reach all learners -- to help them find their voice, be brave about expressing it, and be inspired to use their gifts to 'make their mark.'"  --Peter Reynolds

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Wonder Literacy Bags

I noticed last year that I had lots of nonfiction books and magazines that really were not being read or even looked at during reading workshop.  I tried a variety of ways to increase their use, but only a few high interest books and magazines were read on a regular basis.  In order to have the books read more frequently I decided to apply for a grant from the National Center for Family Literacy for $500.00 to create take home Wonder Literacy Bags for children to share with their families.

I spent last summer gathering many of my nonfiction books and magazines.  I then organized them into themes.  After establishing the themes, I pulled in some fiction books that also went with the themes.   Finally, I spent time researching Wonders at Wonderopolis to incorporate into the bags.  I spent the $500.00 on plastic page protectors for the Wonders and to purchase books to fill in holes.  Originally I was going to use much of the money on the bags themselves, but I was fortunate enough to have bags donated.
Each bag consists of three to eight books and magazines and one to five Wonders.  The books are on a different levels.  The magazines are Zoobooks, My Big Backyard, and Ranger Rick.  Originally I was concerned about the readability of the books, but in the letter to parents I stated that many of the books and Wonders may be too difficult for students to read.  I encouraged this to be a family learning experience where parents may need to read the materials to their children. I shared different ways parents could encourage their children to "read" the books.  As the year has progressed, and we have spent more time with nonfiction, students have had experience reading nonfiction texts in different ways.  Also, I encouraged families to visit the Wonders together.  Children can also listen to the Wonders being read to them if they have internet access at home.

Another component to the Wonder Literacy Bags is to have children digitally write about what they read, learned, and are still wonder about after reading from the bags.  They blog at our class Kidblog site.  If they don't have internet access at home, they were given a journal to write their learning and wonders in, and then they blog at school (this has been a bit slow, because I don't have the time to devote to help these students at school). 

Students often come in excited to share their learning with the class.  When we are having a class discussion, we often have experts about the topic because of something they learned from one of the bags.  Friday is our "switch day" and the students are always excited to pick a new bag.  I often hear things like, "where's the parrot bag?" or "who has the snake bag, because I want it next?"
I have approximately 35 bags for 27 students.  This allows for students who forget to bring their bag back and allows students to choice their own bag each week, rather than one being assigned to them.  Some of the bag topics are:
  • trees
  • snakes
  • bats
  • lizards
  • bears
  • birds 
  • animals that hop
  • elephants
  • giraffes
  • baby animals
  • farm animals
  • saving the earth
  • plants
  • volcanoes
  • American symbols
  • fish
  • ocean life
  • maps
  • fairy tales
  • bees
  • insects
  • rain forest
  • alphabet

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Wonders to Use With Writing Workshop

Below are Wonders from Wonderopolis that will support different kinds of writing you may do in your classroom.  Some of the Wonders could be used as a mentor text for writing that kind of piece, others help explain a particular kind of writing, and some could be a springboard for that particular kind of writing.

Letter Writing
#58 What Is a Letter Writing Campaign?
#468 Do You Need a Pen To Have a Pen Pal?

#58 What Is a Letter Writing Campaign?
#463 What's the Best Thing To Do on a Snow Day?
#467 How Can Video Games Be Good For You?
#989 What's Your Favorite Type of Donut?

#44 What Is a Biography?
#75 Who Were the Wright Brothers?
#106 Who Was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.?
#143 Who Was George Washington Carver?
#993 Who Was Jim Henson?

#248 How Are Dolphins and Porpoises Different?
#579 How Are Ponies and Horses Different?
#618 How Are Knitting and Crocheting Different?
#685 What's the Difference Between Canoes and Kayaks?

See my previous posts:
Using Wonderopolis to Write Found Poetry
Wonders for National Poetry Month

Figurative Language
See my previous post:
Using Wonderopolis to Help Teach Figurative Language

#301 How Do You Make a Friendship Bracelet?
#742 How Do You Train a Dolphin?
#759 How Do You Make a Monster?
#867 What Should You Do in Case of a Fire?

How Something Works
#309 How Does an Eraser Work?
#595 How Does a Hovercraft Work?
#675 How Does Scratch and Sniff Work?
#786 How Do Things Glow in the Dark?
#954 How Does a Doorbell Work?

#1 Why Are Flamingos Pink?
#257 Why Is the Statue of Liberty Green?
#274 Who Made the American Flag?
#788 Why Do We Need Eyelashes?
#973 What Is a Prairie?

#269 Why Do They Call It a "Tall Tale"?
#662 When Does Nonfiction Become Fiction?
#691 Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?
#727 What's Your Favorite Fable?
#912 Can Fairy Tales Be True?
#981 What Is an Urban Legend?

Parts of Speech
#761 Can a Word Be Both a Noun and a Verb?

#294 Why Do We Use Different Words For the Same Thing?
#413 What Do You Call More Than One Moose?
#750 What Are Spoonerisms?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Happy 3rd Birthday, Wonderopolis

We spent time today celebrating Wonderopolis' 3rd birthday, and all of the wonderful things we have learned from visiting Wonderopolis each morning. 

Sorry for the poor camera skills.

Happy third birthday, Wonderopolis!  Looking forward to many more years of wondering, discovering, and learning along with you!