A Few Wonders from Room 407: OF MICE AND MEN Edition

We’ve had a great week here at These 4 Corners sharing how we use Wonderopolis in Room 407 with the juniors who make up our learning community. On Monday, I told you that we would share one of the projects that our students have done and I picked some from last year’s experience with John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.


This idea was born of my own wonder regarding readers and the kinds of assessments they are given after having read a book. I often wondered if we had our students answering our questions without considering what questions the students might have after having read the book. What might be lost in the transaction.

The directions were very simple. I went to a local craft store to purchase some scrapbooking paper. As I wanted the projects to have that vintage feel, I felt I could assert this desire onto the individual projects while still affording an element of choice for the student to select from the various papers. This also kept the canvases a uniform size. Our goal was to create one-page wonders of a 1.0 modality using the Wonderopolis site as our template.

I had a vintage (older) copy of the book and I told students that they could have the page from which their subject appeared in the book. This had students thumbing through the book to look for that reference to the Kewpie Doll Lamp, the barley, the luger, the ketcup, the solitaire.


In the image above, we see the student working with th question of barley. It’s stated in that essential question kind of way, isn’t it? Friends. . this was the question that wasn’t asked in class. The characters are “bucking barley” through the book, and this ended up being a student’s wonder at the end.


Here is a student looking at the game of solitaire wherein the student went just a step beyond to create a little collage in the upper left-hand corner to look as close to the Wonderopolis site as it could on paper.


Another student looked at the geography of the book. “Where is Soledad?” Just recently, I had a student tell me that the spanish translation of Soledad means, “alone” or “isolated.” I can tell you. . .after some seventy times of reading this book aloud, I had missed this insight. And it has changed in a big way how I approach this book now. In this wonder you can see that the student has taken the page from the book and included it within the wonder. It’s even highlighted (one of those reading strategies).


And then we come to Madison’s project. Madison was our residential scrapbook artist. And she’s done a lovely job of capturing the essense of the book she has just read in Room 407. Exploring the question “Who is John Steinbeck” is completed here as Madison found her own copy of the book and created this interesting piece.

Here is what I found after we had our English 11 students cull his or her wonder from the book, tearing from the book that wonder to be incorporated into his or her project. . .

On the pages that were left in the book, I found the questions I might have asked on a comprehenion-level, did-you-read-it kind of quiz. In the projects I found wonders about leads and liniment, about skinners and sycamores, and about bindles and bunkhouses.For my experience this is one of the strongest arguments for taking on a wonder approach out of a literature experience.

Teachers have questions that require answers; students have wonders that invite exploration.

Thank you for visiting the blog this week. I hope that the ideas presented all week long are inviting you to take a closer look at Wonderopolis! I’ll see you in the Wonder Ground!

One thought on “A Few Wonders from Room 407: OF MICE AND MEN Edition

  1. These are great wonders, Paul and very creatively presented. I would like to show the teachers I am working your students’ work to the teachers I will be working with next week.

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