Special thanks to Mary Lehman and Monica Shirey for bringing this one to my attention! The Habits of Mind shared by Costa and Kallick have played a major role in our curriculum work over the past two years. For most of the sixteen habits, it’s been easy to see their place in our work with students. Persisting? Creating, Imagining and Innovating? Thinking About Thinking? No problem. But one habit has stopped us in our tracks more than once – Responding with Wonderment and Awe. Where does that fit into our curriculum? And how in the world do we teach it?
These questions have led to some rich conversations about learning and the role of wondering. If we want students to learn how to learn, we have to encourage them to ask questions and to be curious about the world around them. Walk into a Kindergarten class and you’ll see this happening everywhere. We can’t let it stop there.
Wonderopolis is an amazing resource from The National Center for Families Learning for helping students to get their wonder back. Each day it features a new “Wonder of the Day”, complete with a short video intro and an informational article about the topic. Words that might be unfamiliar are underlined and the definition pops up when you hover your cursor over them. There’s also a “Listen” button at the start of each article that plays an audio recording of the article, with each word highlighted as it’s read. At the end of each article there’s a short quiz, in case you want to see how much you learned. You can even leave a comment for the Wonderopolis folks, who make it a point to reply to every single one. They also encourage visitors to suggest new wonders and vote on wonders suggested by others. It’s truly a community of wonder-ers!
Students can explore Wonderopolis to learn about things of interest to them. The informational texts would make great shared reading opportunities about curricular topics. I can also see this site acting as a springboard for students to act on their own wonderings. After exploring a few wonders in Wonderopolis, students could come up with their own wonders and then do the research to find some answers. They could then create their own “Wonderopolis”-style presentations to share what they’ve learned. These wonders could be completely student-driven or could be related to curricular topics. This would be a great way to connect learning and literacy across the content areas.
I encourage you to visit Wonderopolis and watch the video on their “About” page. Then start exploring the wonders. Here are a few to get you started:
- Art – #904 What is Pointillism?
- Business/Computers – #1012 Where is Cyberspace?
- Earth Science – #131 Where is the Deepest Place on Earth?
- ELA – #269 Why Do They Call It a Tall Tale?
- FCS – #1110 What Does Homemade Mean?
- Health/PE – #840 Why Do Your Muscles Cramp?
- Life Science – #1329 What is DNA?
- Math #162 What is Pi?
- Music – #972 Can Music Help You Think?
- Physical Science – #1283 Why Don’t Motorcyles Fall While Moving?
- Social Studies – #835 Who Was Rosie the Riveter?
- Tech Ed – #1114 Why Do Measurements Matter?
- World Languages – #643 Is It Ever Too Late to Learn a New Language?
Enjoy exploring the wonders of Wonderopolis! Just be careful…you might get lost in your wondering. I know I did.