Wonderopolis as a Research Template



We are almost to end of this week’s exploration of Wonderopolis as a tool in the middle and high school classroom. We’ve explored the basics, the elements that aid word-building and vocabulary, and the elements that emulate the rhetorical modes tne writing we would like to see our middle and high school students doing. Thank you for letting me share some insights from having used Wonderopolis for the past two years. As I share these features and tips with you, I am affirmed in the practice of using Wonderopolis with the juniors that are a part of our learning community in Room 407.

Many of my juniors come to me with very little research experience. For some of these students, to have written a research response–or even a paper–probably began as a sort of invitation and ended as a kind of dare. Let’s be honest, many of our students when presented the opportunity to write an expository piece probably began shuffling their schedules for the extended opportunity to learn and to fellowship that is summer school.

Wonderopolis has archived almost 1400 different wonders at the site. I think what this really creates a sense of contained resource that middle and high school teachers could feel comfortable inviting the students to explore. In a texting conversation this week with a teacher-friend, I suggested that students might be invited–on a rotating basis–to find wonders related to the day’s lesson or shares in the classroom. In this way, these students would become “Wonder Jockeys” for the rest of the group (akin to ideas I have seen that invite students to serve as Google Jockeys during a lesson).

There are two features associated with each wonder that might lend students to further research. Each wonder comes with a STILL WONDERING tab to the right of the wonder that asks further questions related to that day’s wonder. This is a good tool for the young writer/research to continue asking questions of the subject until he or she arrives at the essential question that will ultimately become the extended response or piece. Additionally, each wonder has WONDER TAGS that can be searched by the student to offer multiple looks at the subject and related subjects.

To wrap up today’s look at Wonderopolis, I’d like to point to Wonderopolis’s key feature: the presentation of non-fiction material each day that not only looks like the kind of reading passage one might see on a standardized test, but the Wonder can be used as a start for an extended piece. And I cannot reiterate or emphasize enough:

This is all free.

I wanted to add, too, an invitation to Wonderopolis’s newest addition, The Wonder Ground where educators can come and share experiences and resources related to wonder! I hope to see you there (I joined in November when the platform went live. . .I’ve been waiting for you).





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