Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wonder Wednesday

I was inspired this summer after reading Maria's post, What Would Be in Your Wonder Jar? and then I had the opportunity to chat a bit on Twitter about wondering.  Lucky for me Wonderopolis was listening in and wanted to help promote wondering in my classroom.  I just love this label they sent me.  I was feeling pretty thrifty when I recycled a jumbo pretzel jar and washed it up.  The opening is just right to put objects in and out of it.  The size is just right for holding many things. 

My jar has been sitting for a bit.  The beginning of the year is overwhelming at times and I just wasn't sure how to launch this.  My students have had so much to process in our twenty days together.  I've decided wondering just comes naturally if you wait.  One day we were using glue sticks to put a mural together.  I started thinking out loud and mentioned when I was little we had no glue sticks.  I continued to wonder why did we just have glue to work with?  When were glue sticks invented?  Why?  The glue sticks we had to use that day were all purple.  I wonder why because I don't remember glue sticks being purple when I was  younger than I am now.  All good teaching starts with modeling.  Why not model about wondering.

This summer I read Literacy Beginnings by Fountas and Pinnell.  Chapter 3 was filled with important writing about inquiry.  I loved the lead quote, "Ask real questions, questions you yourself wonder about - what I call acts of inquiry. - Judith Wells Lindfors."  The chapter defines two types of inquiry.  The first one being information seeking and this often leads to solutions and products.  Fountas and Pinnell have captured wondering as this -

"Wondering, the other kind of inquiry, is more open.  We seek questions and examine alternative factors.  When you and a friend discuss a recently read book or a film you've seen, you often share your thougths about why a character acted as he did or why an actor played the character a certain way.  You might never know the "right" answer.  The goal is often the pleasure of the process itself - speculating, asking more questions, sharing insights that are only possibilities.  Using open ended questions is important with prekindergartens.  Using thoughtful language as we teach is crucial to helping stimulate children's thinking."

While Fountas and Pinnell directly site thinking about prekindergartens I think this could apply to everyone of all ages.  My thoughts are closer for using the jar in the classroom.  I've gathered some picture book resources, and am using Wonderopolis posts to help foster the launch.  Stay tuned.


  1. Mandy~
    Your post came at the EXACT RIGHT time for me! I have been wondering about wonder for a while now and I have really been struggling. Last week Cathy pasted me in the hall and said "In the back of your mind your wondering about books on wonder." I love the way she plants these seeds! I went right into my room and thought about this and started a small stack of books!
    WHAT IS WONDER!!?? How does it fit in 1st grade? Then, I saw your WONDERful book list on Amazon and THEN our mealworms arrived! I have been asking the kids what they wonder about mealworms and we are WONDERING! The language shift in just asking "What are you wondering?" or" I wonder why?" has been powerful! Now, I am wondering how I ever taught without wonder! I am even considering a wonder jar....
    Keep sharing you are inspiring!

  2. I was so excited to read your post and once again what amazing ideas you posted about wondering. You connected it so well to our everyday life-that is perfect. I am going to borrow many of these ideas and help my few students are still struggling with how do we wonder. I can't wait to see the jar fill up and most important the idea that you have all your students wondering and talking!!