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Wonderopolis for Educators

26 Posts authored by: mwedwards

Yesterday I led a session called “Navigating the Changes with the 4C’s” at a mini-conference for gifted educators. After we explored the 4C’s and some activities, we looked at some websites and Wonderopolis was one of them!

 

The teachers LOVED it!

 

 

We talked about ways the ideas there and inspired by the stuff there can be used in all the 4C areas (communication, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication).

 

Then the teacher part kicked in, and they really liked the vocabulary as well as the test your knowledge. The read aloud option also got some fans!  We also talked about ways students could create their own wonders after units of study as a way to express knowledge and/or as an assessment of learning. Being able to search for past wonders and categories was also a popular feature!

 

One of the things that we especially like, especially in terms of the gifted learner, is that there is not really a definite answer for the wonder questions …. you have to think and support your answer.

 

In my experience, most gifted students are used to always getting the right answer without even trying very hard, so when they have questions that don’t really have an answer to struggle with, that is where the growth and learning occurs.

 

Today I was asked to meet with third grade teachers at a local elementary school to explore some technology options they could use. And again, Wonderopolis was one I showed!

 

They are getting ready to talk more about the skeletal system, so we searched for that. The wonder questions that turned up were not one they would have thought of at first, but did provide some interesting angles for them to use to approach the unit of study.

 

Later this afternoon, I held the second session of my Rising STEAM workshops and we were actually in the STEAM Lab at a school today. On the symbaloos created for each unit, there are several Wonderopolis questions for students to click on so they can go watch the video and read/listen to the info.

 

One of the stations is even called a WONDER station. A group of participants in the workshop are from the same school (varying grades and the tech person). They are in the process of making plans for a STEAM lab at their school next year and they have a Wonder station in their plans.

 

There was even talk of creating a Wonder question to lead each activity!

 

These sessions ended up being more like conversations that turned out even better than planned!

mwedwards

Rain, Rain, Rain ...

Posted by mwedwards Apr 7, 2014

medium_3779683969.jpgSince it is raining outside today, I decided to go to one of my favorite resource sites to do a search for “rain” to see what I could find!

The resources and ideas just flooded in …

A few of them were the ones I expected …

But some were so much more …

Here are just a few of the many resources found when I searchedThinkfinity:

 

I guess you never know what you will find when you start wondering and exploring!

photo credit: ecstaticist via photopin cc

digital learning pledge.PNG

Do you know what today is?

 

Along with it being a WONDER Wednesday, it is also Digital Learning Day!

 

(But don't worry you can still learn tomorrow and all the other days too!)

 

In celebration of both of these things, I am going to share 12 Digital Wonders I found on Wonderopolis!

  1. Do Photographer Still Use Darkrooms? (#547)
  2. How Do You Listen to Music? (#1008)
  3. How Are Sound Effects Made? (#950)
  4. How Do You Capture Memories? (#1127)
  5. When is Technology Old? (#883)
  6. What Does It Mean to Go Viral? (#754)
  7. What Can You Discover at the Library? (#924)
  8. How Do Touch Screens Work? (#420)
  9. What is High Definition? (#446)
  10. What is the Smallest Computer? (#292)
  11. What is a Mouse? (#206)
  12. How Does a Camera Work? (#91)

 

There are so many more learning opportunities on Wonderopolis and all around us!

 

I challenge you to go wonder, learn, and share!

Today’s Wonderopolis Wonder of the Day: Who Invented Balloon Animals brought back a great memory!

Our family visited Florida in October last year … we went to NASA (and Disney). One night, we had an unexpected learning experience …

As soon as my daughter saw today’s Wonder, she started telling me that story and the things she learned …

According to my 7 year old daughter:

The guy came up at dinner when I was eating pizza. He asked me if I wanted a balloon animal and then asked what color I wanted. I pointed to purple. He said, “neon purple?” and I shook my head. He said, “let me tell you some history about neon while you are waiting.” He asked what animal I wanted. I said that I wanted a teddy bear. He told me that the teddy bear is named after Teddy Roosevelt, a former president. While he made my balloon animal he told me about the history of both the color and the teddy bear!

Wonder #36 will help you learn more about teddy bears!

Neon is one of the Wonder Words on Wonder #1129

You never know when learning opportunities will happen ….

Think about how many connections my daughter was able to make …

And connections lead to learning!

We should do all we can to help students be able to make the connections necessary for learning and comprehension!

Making a personal connection to a character or an even in a story can help with student comprehension of that story.

Helping students establish connections between topics they are learning about strengthens their understanding of both topics.

Making connections between things is one of the key ways I make sense of things … and serves many times as blog post topics!

There is another type of connection that plays a very important role …

While reading Setting the Tone: A Connected School Approach to Creating Bully-free Classrooms by M. Carpenter, S. Roy, and G. Smith, I came across a statement that really jumped out at me:

“Connections are like background music in a movie; they set the tone for everything else that happens.”

This book was not talking about the text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world connections related to reading that I normally think of when I hear about students needing to make connections for learning.

The connections for learning being discussed in that chapter were the connections created between the teacher and students in the classroom ….

It is all about creating an environment conducive to learning … making those personal connections so everyone feels they matter, are respected, and able to succeed even if they don’t at first.

What are ways that you help students make connections?

What benefits have you seen from students being able to make connections?

How are you creating an environment conducive to learning?

I knew my husband and daughter were going to Raleigh, NC to a NC State basketball game last Saturday …


I did not realize I had a ticket too

 

Until the night before the game

 

The game was not until 8pm so I wondered if there was anything we could do in Raleigh ...

 

After some discussion, we decided to take our daughter to the NC Museum of Art in Raleigh in the afternoon before the late game …


So I quickly started searching for things for my daughter to do while we were at the museum:

 

I thought about a scavenger hunt …

 

But then I read some posts and comments that mentioned how some kids (and adults) get so concerned with completing the scavenger hunt page that they miss out on the art and the experience of the art museum …

 

I can see my daughter doing that

 

So I needed to find something else …

 

I decided I was giving to give her two choices (providing choice is great for motivation) … found on one of the sites above:

 

I Spy an Eye (which I called the Eye Investigator)
Nothing is as fascinating as eyes. They can say so many different things. Even very young children are captivated by a person’s eyes. Make a game of finding the paintings with the best eyes…and hunt for as many different kinds of eyes as you can find.

When children select a painting, ask them what the eyes tell them about the person. Or notice how many brush strokes it took to paint the eye.

The great thing about this game is it helps you focus on just a few works of art in each room. Children will have fun scanning the art in a room to find the one with eyes that intrigue them. Answering questions about what the eyes say creates a reason to stop and look more deeply at the painting.


Art Collector
In this game, everyone picks a favorite painting in each room you visit. Then they select their top ten to include in their collection of favorites. You can be your child’s secretary, writing down the ones they pick as their favorites. You can also ask them why they like each one and write down their answers. The game – and museum visit – is over when each child has collected a certain number of favorites.

This gives kids a sense of control over the visit.

 

Our school system has done training on project and problem-based learning … these scenarios remind me of that in many ways …

 

I though I knew which one she would pick …

 

I was NOT correct …

 

She chose to be the Art Collector …

 

And did a really great job carrying her little notebook all around with a purpose and a focus (not that I am biased or anything).

 

She had a great time … we all did … and can’t wait to go back!


With a purpose and directed focus, she was able to enjoy and take advantage of an opportunity for discovery and learning …

 

I think the questions on Wonderopolis  can help provide a purpose and focus for learning!

 

Here are some past wonders related to art:

What is pointillism?

Are you handy when it comes to art?

Is Design a Science or an Art?

What makes Art priceless?

Can you draw with thread?

Who was Mona Lisa?

Have you heard of Girlstart?

Girlstart is an organization with a mission to empower girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).

Girlstart’s core programs foster STEM skills development, an understanding of the importance of STEM as a way to solve the world’s major problems, as well as an interest in STEM electives, majors, and careers.

A recent study found that Girlstart’s After School program is the most robust STEM program for girls in the country!

Their DeSTEMBer initiative provides 31 days of STEM-based activities.

Wonderopolis is included in one of those days!

Here is the google hangout Girlstart and Wonderopolis did recently:

So after watching, I decided that my daughter and I are going to attempt to create a Rube Goldberg Machine while we are home for Christmas break …

We will have to see what happens!

mwedwards

What Do You Want to Be?

Posted by mwedwards Nov 13, 2013

wonder grow up.PNG

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I found myself telling someone yesterday that I was not sure what I want to do when I grow up ...

I mean other than the things I am already doing ...

What do I want to do in the future?

What goal do I want to work towards?

While working with first grade teachers today, I heard they are planning to do a career unit with their students ...

I wonder if I should attend ...

As I listened more, I heard them talking about inviting parents in to discuss their jobs as well as the steps they had to follow to get there ...

I decided to search Wonderopolis for careers to see what resources I could find to share with them ...

Here are a few I found:

and a favorite ..

 

There is even a Wonderopolis Category devoted to Careers!

 

So what do you want to be when you grow up?

Wonderopolis.PNG

Wonderopolis turned 3 on Friday!!!!

That was 1,071 Wonders of the Day …

1,071 opportunities to learn ....

1.071 chances to think and explore a little more ...

I am sure that I don’t remember all of those but I definitely have many favorites …

But I don’t think favorite wonders are what I want to talk about today …

(if you want to look at one I like, please see #129)

I want to think about literacy …

Literacy is more than just reading and writing …

Reading, writing, thinking, reflecting, and asking questions all play major roles individually and collaboratively to define literacy …

And I see ways Wonderopolis can be and is used for all those things …

When I stumbled upon Wonderopolis the first time (Wonder #75), the teacher in me saw all kinds of ways it could be used to support learning in the classroom …

(I found Wonderopolis by looking at the bottom of the Thinkfinity page at their content partners.)

The mom in me quickly came to realize that I did not just want to share those opportunities at school and realized the beginning of the magic Wonderopolis has created for my family …

As a family, we now read, write, think, reflect, question, and explore with a focus …

A focus on what we can learn together …

(and wondering if there is a wonder related to that on Wonderopolis already or can we create one just for us … )

For our family, Wonderopolis is more than just a website …

My little one (now in second grade) has been wondering with Wonderopolis since before K …

When she has a question, she tells me that she has a wonder …

My husband, an engineer, wonders in his own way, and finds really neat articles and ideas …

There is not one way for all to wonder …

Wondering is unique …

And although it can be quite personal …

Sharing wonders and/or wondering together can produce great results  …

And lead to even more wondering!

Wondering provides a common language …

We wonder in our own ways …

But wondering together brings us closer!

mwedwards

Apples in Many Colors?

Posted by mwedwards Oct 6, 2013

For me being a connected educator means more than just being in and participating in online communities ...

 

I think it is about being connected ...

 

Creating, having, and/or exploring those connections no matter where and how they may occur ...

 

Online and offline ...

 

The image on Wonderopolis one day last week reminded me of that ...

 

 

What stands out the most?

 

The apple that is blue!

 

As soon as my friend Natalie, who happens to be a librarian, saw it she immediately thought of a book ...

 

She made a connection and shared it with me ...

 

While telling me about the book, she was walking around the library looking for it ...

 

While she was telling me about the book, I was searching for it too ....

 

She found the book ...


Willow by Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan

 

Here is the part of the story Natalie connected the Wonderopolis image with ...


All of the students painted trees with straight brown trunks, round green tops, and red apple.

Everyone except Willow.

Miss Hawthorne pointed with a long, bony finger. "Look at the mess you've made!"

"And there is no such thing as a blue apple!"

"But that is what I saw when I closed my eyes," said Willow.

 

How many times do others not see the same thing we see?

 

Think about the many factors that contribute to what one may see when they look at an object or situation ...

 

Here is some information from that Wonderopolis Wonder:

Is it possible that different people can look at the same things and see something different? New research has led scientists to believe that may be true.

 

While Natalie was searching for the book, I was searching for websites ...

 

I found a nice review of Willow on The Artful Parent: Children's art, seasonal crafts, and family fun:

Of course I love this book. How could I not? I love the messages about imagination and creativity in art, love the example that Willow provides to her classmates and teacher, and love the idea of Miss Hawthorn pulling a 180 and changing from a strict art-hating teacher to one who embraced her own creativity and that of her students.

 

And the authors of Willow have a great website with projects, activities, and even more ...

 

I am excited that my connections helped me discover this great book:

Willow is a story about creativity, and the magical things that can happen when imagination is allowed to run wild. But most of all, it's a story about the profound influence of one little girl.

 

Without being connected to Wonderopolis, my friend, and a library, I would not even know about this great book!

 

mwedwards

Chances to try?

Posted by mwedwards Sep 19, 2013

11 Experiments That Failed.PNGI wonder if you would like to read a book with the title 11 Experiments That Failed?

 

The title sounds a bit gloomy …

 

But the faces I saw today after the book was read were not!


I had a chance today to visit a classroom full of legos …

 

Make that full of Legos and Literature!

 

So I missed the first part of class when the book was read …

 

But after the book was read, the tubs of legos came out!…

 

Students built a bird …

 

And then did experiments to see how much the bird could eat and still stay balanced …

 

By adding small red blocks for berries and long green blocks for fish!

 

a chance to start over and try again.jpgExperiments to WONDER and DISCOVER!

 

I did see small bits of frustration at times …

 

But I think reading the book beforehand helped a lot …

 

I also saw lots of smiling faces and heard lots of giggles!

 

The students were not afraid to try …

 

There were no wrong answers …

 

Only chances to start over and try again …

 

The guys from Eepybird would say to make small adjustments and try again!

 

I wonder what we would be willing to try if we knew there were no wrong answers …. just chances to start over and try again …

mwedwards

15 pages and 5+ Wonders...

Posted by mwedwards Aug 26, 2013

It is hard to believe that it is almost time for Miss Madalyn to go back to school!

 

She will start 2nd grade in just a few weeks!

 

Tonight at bedtime, we started reading a book together…Judy Moody Saves the World.

 

As we read the first chapter, I kept noticing things that could be wonders on Wonderopolis!

 

So I asked Miss Priss if I could borrow her book to reread the first chapter after she fell asleep!

 

The story opens with Judy Moody telling her brother that he should knock before he enters her room. He thinks she means that he should tell knock-knock jokes!

In the first chapter, Judy Moody and her brother find out about a Crazy Strips (Band-Aid) Contest. She shares an idea about using smiley faces to decorate a Crazy Strip.

Along with the smiley face, Judy Moody adds a slogan about curing bad moods.

 

As they brainstorm ideas for entries, I wonder how Madalyn would decorate a Crazy Strip. Judy Moody suggests a peace sign with flowers around it and a heart shaped sun.

This chapter even mentions Picasso.

picasso by madalyn (1).jpg

 

Toward the end of 1st grade, Madalyn’s art class learned about famous artists and created artworks based on the techniques and characteristics they were known for.

 

So she refers to Picasso as “that guy who mixes people faces” and brought home a picture of a face she created with the location of the nose, eyes, and mouth all mixed up!

 

Look how many Wonderopolis connections we have found so far in this book.

 

And we are only on page 15!

mwedwards

Water, Water Everywhere!!!!

Posted by mwedwards Aug 24, 2013

medium_5354274619.jpgSo for about a week, there has been an unusual odor in the kitchen at our house …

(I thought of Wonderopolis wonders #358, #599 and #719)

 

We thought it was from the garbage disposal …

 

(which made me think of wonder #741)

 

So we kept trying to make that better.

 

We bought cleaner and my husband even took all the pipes apart under the sink and cleaned them …

 

But the odor still lingered …

 

Last night we needed to run the dishwasher, but it would not turn on …

 

(and wonder #110 enters the picture)

 

So tonight, we (my husband) pulled the dishwasher out and thought he had drained all the water …

 

But then another gush came …

 

And there was water, water, and more water ….

 

(I think of wonder #742)

 

We found water in all sorts of places even the bottom of the pantry!

I got all the towels in the house …

 

(Wonder #186 comes to mind)

 

And the wet/dry vac ...

 

(which makes me think of wonder #109)

 

Soooo much water …

 

We think we found the problem …

(Look how many wonders I found when I searched for the term “problem”.)

 

I say “we” but I really had nothing to do with it!

 

There is a piece missing so the pipe is not held up and sags in one place causing the water not to flow out from the dishwasher …

 

So now the old dishwasher is sitting outside …

 

(Wonder #784 comes to mind …)

 

There is a big hole where one is supposed to be …

 

(let’s bring in wonder #596)

 

There are dirty dishes in the sink …

 

(I probably should look at wonder #952)

 

But the smell is gone!

 

I guess I know what our project will be tomorrow …

 

(Wonder #532 to the rescue!)

As I told my story of our lovely water adventure tonight, I thought of several things I could search for on Wonderopolis

 

My search for the term water brought up over six pages of results

 

See how much wondering even one little event can lead to ….

 

Think about all those questions and opportunities for learning!

 

Those oportunities are around us all the time …

 

We just have to take time to notice them!

 

And as I was searching for these wonders, I found even more great wonders to explore!

 

You never know what you are going to find when you start wondering ….

 

photo credit: Phillip Stearns via photopin cc

Do you know where the most chocolate is sold in the world?

Any guesses?

I had no idea until I saw one of the Fast Facts on National Geographic Education!

I wonder why so much chocolate is sold there …

I am ashamed to admit that when I think of National Geographic, I picture an old magazine with yellow bands around the edges that has lots and lots of words!


In the middle of the top, you can find interesting images with intriguing captions …

On the homepage, you can also find:

  • Teacher Resources
  • Reference & News
  • Current Event Connection
  • Geo-Literacy
  • and more!

There are even areas for Families, Students, and Kids!Check out the National Geographic Education website and let me know about your favorite part and something you learned!

Since this post started off mentioning chocolate …I visited Wonderopolis and searched for wonders about chocolate!

mwedwards

Are You Celebrating Today?

Posted by mwedwards Jul 11, 2013

Did you know today is World Population Day?

 

What does that mean? And why?

 

I found this on ScienceNetLinks:

world population day.JPG

 

What from that explanation jumps out at you?

 

For me, it is the rapid growth of population as well as the reasons for it ...

 

As I was trying to think about how to explain population, I did a search for population on Wonderopolis!

 

population search.JPG

 

According to Wonder #764,  the world’s population grows by approximately 80 million people each year.

 

Do you know how many people were in the US when the first US census was taken? Do you think that number has increased?

 

Which countries do you think have the highest population? Where does the US fal on that list?

 

Wonder #517 share even more information about the Census including what it is and why it is needed ...

 

When I read the explanation of World Population Day at the top of this post, another thing I noticed was that this day was designated by the United Nations.

 

Wonderopolis even has a wonder about the United Nations!

 

I have one more question ...

 

How are you going to celebrate World Population Day? :-)

“Everywhere you turn, there is something to learn”

That saying goes great with today’s theme for Wonderopolis Camp What-A-Wonder (Wednesday: Fun Places All Around You) …

That saying was on the back of one of the green Wonderopolis shirts Madalyn wore on our vacation …

While we visited Massanutten, Viginia last week, I really understood the meaning behind that saying …

I kept a list of all the things we saw and/or experienced on our trip that we want to wonder about and explore more!

I took that list and created a word cloud …

Here a some past Wonders that we can’t wait to start exploring since they match things on our list!

 

 

Do you keep a list of things you wonder about during your 3 Minutes of Wonder to look back at and explore more later?