A Springboard for Innovative Ideas
If you’re an elementary or middle school teacher, I would encourage you to try the free website Wonderopolis. With a tagline like “Where the Wonders of Learning Never Cease,” it’s got to be a great educational tool, right?
Created by the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL), Wonderopolis is beautifully designed and sure to draw you in. Each day, the site poses a question, the Wonder of the Day, and then explores it in a variety of ways. The content is multidisciplinary and aligned to Common Core Standards, the STEM Educational Quality Framework, and Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy. Each Wonder includes detailed but easy to read information to answer that day’s question, follow-up activities for kids to do, and related Wonders to explore.
What is especially great is its treatment of vocabulary words. Words that students may not know in the reading are highlighted and provided in a Wonder Words vocabulary list on the side. Students can even take a quiz to see if they understand the words. There is also a knowledge quiz at the end to measure comprehension.
I found myself really interested in the various wonders that had been posted previously and I think your students will, too. From questions like “Will a watermelon grow in your belly if you swallow a seed?” to “What makes the ocean blue when water is clear?”, the questions are sure to prompt curiosity and thinking.
Using Wonderopolis in class, for me, would involve first posting the Wonder question of the day on the board and asking students to think about it, reflecting on what they may already know about the topic. I would also ask them to brainstorm answers to the question and defend those answers to the class before we open the website. After discussing the question and its answer, I would ask students if the new information that they’ve learned can be applied to any other situation.
For more teaching ideas, NCFL also provides the Wonder Ground, which offers lesson plans and additional resources for each of the Wonders. There’s even a free HTML widget that you can download and use to put the Wonder of the Day on your own website for others to use.
We know the importance of fostering curiosity in our students, of getting them excited about the world, and of helping them to learn to find answers to their questions. Wonderopolis does all of this for us and makes learning fun at the same time.
By: Lori Gracey