A Student-Written Wonderopolis: Want to Help Me Create One?

At the start of this school year, I committed to creating more time for wonder in my classroom.  And though there have been times this year when I have gotten away from that, we have (mostly) consistently been working on setting aside time for wondering once a week.

We began the year by simply collecting wonders.  Each class had a classroom wonder wall that was housed on a Padlet that I created.  Each week we talked about what kinds of things could spark wonders. We looked at the brilliant website Wonderopolis, we watched videos on The Kids Should See This, we listened to TED talks, we watched TEDed videos, and we read informational picture books.

We also spent time talking about what kinds of questions lead to the best investigations. We learned to ask better questions as we went about our work.  Throughout the year, this has been a time of the week that every kid in my room has looked forward to. Some students loved the work so much that they began to add wonders from home without ever being asked to (one of the benefits of using Padlet for our wonder wall!).

After a trimester spent just wondering, we decided that it was time to move into starting to investigate some of our wonders.  I asked each student to select at least THREE wonders that they wanted to try to answer. We reviewed which questions might lead to the best investigations and also discussed having a real interest in a question before selecting it.  The questions did not HAVE to come from our wonder wall, but for most kids it was a really good place to start.

Each child then used their Google accounts to create their own Padlet accounts.  They created a new Padlet for each question that they were going to try to answer. They then began to collect resources on these Padlets that might help them to answer their questions. They could store links to videos there, images, notes, and links to helpful websites.  Again, this was work that so many of the students have loved that I often heard from them about what they had added to their Padlets from home.

And now. Now it is time to do something with all of our learning.

And here is where all of you come in!

We have relied so heavily on the website Wonderopolis. So when I started to think about what we could do with the answers we were creating, I thought that is might be fairly fantastic to create our own, student-written version of Wonderopolis.

Here is what I am thinking. We are going to work on informational writing. There are many standards to cover in this area and I think that if I can combine that work with the learning that we have been doing with our wonders, we could create some pretty powerful stuff.

So we will begin by using Wonderopolis as a place to find mentor texts. I will ask students to explore a bit and find one article on Wonderopolis that they really love. This will become the student’s own mentor text.  They might find a few to look at and that is fine too. I will model looking closely at what the writers have done on our mentor texts. We will list strategies that we see the writers using and what kinds of things the writers have included in their articles.

Then, I will ask my students to use the questions that they have been investigating in order to write their own articles.  They will use what they have learned by studying their mentor texts to then craft their own informational writing that can inform their readers.

And then we will use that writing to build a website.

WANT TO JOIN US?

So here is what I have done. I have created a GoogleDoc that anyone can edit.  You can find that HERE. Students can enter their questions and answers (including sources) and any images (that are okay in terms of copyright) that they want to include as a part of their answer.  There is also a spot to include information about the student. I will probably have my own students just put their first name, grade and city.  Teachers and students can make their own decisions about what they feel comfortable sharing.

Then, I will take the information submitted and put it into a Weebly website. We will have a list of questions and when a reader clicks on a question, they will be taken to the student-written response.  Here is what it looks like with just my own example.  Imagine the list have a whole lot more questions! We can then share the link to this student-created website on our classroom Twitter account and with families and students from all over.

And there you go! That’s the plan. So far. I imagine how cool it would be if we had questions and answers submitted by kids from all over the place. We would be creating an incredibly authentic purpose for informational writing and we would also be creating a resource for students to use to learn from each other.

I think it could be brilliant!

If you might be interested, just let me know in the comments below and then have your students start submitting questions and answers whenever you and your students are ready. My own students probably won’t be ready to post for a few weeks yet, but I will keep checking to see if anyone else is ready before us.

I am excited to see what comes from this. If nothing else, I think that my kids will really enjoy creating this website and I am hopeful that others will as well.

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12 thoughts on “A Student-Written Wonderopolis: Want to Help Me Create One?

  1. I think this is a wonderful idea. We have been using wonderopolis all year and to have a student created version could spark some great writing. We would love to join this.

  2. I have never done anything like this before! I am willing to investigate and possibly try it, but not ready to commit yet. My students are high school; does that work?

    • Yes to all of that!! I think it would be amazing to have high school students join us. You do not ever have to commit! If you end up having your students write, or even just some of them, just submit to the Google Doc when it works for you. Otherwise, do not worry about it at all!!

  3. Hi Jess,
    I would love to have my students join in on this project. In fact, I’ve been inspired by a couple of slices this month on the Two Writing Teachers March SOL Challenge that I was going to try with my students and this would be a perfect fit. Let’s stay in touch and I will have my students start thinking about how to add to the Google doc you’ve created.

  4. This is so fantastic. My 4th graders are just finishing their Genius Hour projects. My plan was to have them move on to Passion Time projects next(which is what we did last year), but this has me intrigued. What grade do you teach?

  5. Pingback: Giving Writing Workshop Back to Our Writers: Choose Your Own Mentor Texts and a Student-Led EdCamp | Crawling Out of the Classroom

  6. Pingback: The Students Become the Teachers | Crawling Out of the Classroom

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