Making Summer School Wonderful

Wonder what we learn in Summer School- using the website and app Wonderopolis.

Are we making summer school wonderful? Well, I'm not going to kid myself into thinking that my students don't really want to be sleeping late and sitting by the pool rather than attending summer school. But with the help of the website Wonderopolis, I am trying to make learning more "wonder" filled.

Wonderopolis is a website and mobile app that features different Wonders of the Day which are inquiry based questions designed to help students, classrooms, or families "find learning moments in everyday experiences." This website developed by the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL) is best descriped in their own words. "It’s a place where wonder and learning are nurtured through the power of discovery, creativity and imagination." And that's exactly what my students and I have been doing.

From learning about what a concussion is to how bees make honey, my summer school classroom has found numerous ways to utilize Wonderopolis. To begin each class, we read through the Wonder of the Day, this is a great way for my Communication Arts students to work on their reading fluency by using the interesting, non-fiction topics presented. Wonderopolis also includes a short video clip to accompany each Wonder. These are often from National Geographic or other educational sources. Each Wonder of the Day also has a list of vocabulary words to know and use. My students have written stories with these words, created vocabulary games using our iPads, and competed in impromptu spelling bees based on the Wonder Words.

Wonderopolis also provides links to other educational websites and activities that enhance each topic and help foster further inquiry. Each Wonder challenges students to think, create, or investigate beyond what is presented. My students have written stories about super hero Platypus', researched the hottest place in the United States, and discovered that Diamante Poetry is dynamite.

Each Wonder of the Day invites readers to comment or make suggestions about how to improve or enhance each topic. If someone comments, the Wonder creators always respond. This has been a great way to generate thoughtful, inquisitive questions from my students. There is even a place to submit ideas for future wonderings. We have wondered, "What makes color?", and "What is it like to go to school year round?" (of course my students wonder about the torture of year round school while I dream of all the more learning that would take place... but still we are wondering!)

This is our last week of summer school and to end our adventures we are taking yet more inspiration from Wonderopolis by becoming paper airplane engineers. On Friday students will compete to see who can fly their "wonder"fully designed plane the farthest.

So if you don't have the luxury (or torture depending on which view you take) of having year round school and you have a "wonder"filled curiosity, give Wonderoplis a try.

I'd love to know what you are wondering!

Alison Nixon

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Lindsay Toler June 27, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Sometimes I wonder how our children see the world. I feel like I get some little glimpses, though, through your blogging, Alison!
Barbara Phillips June 27, 2012 at 04:49 PM
What a wonderful way you are engaging your summer school students to engage in and love learning. I can feel the energy you bring to the classroom in your post. How inspiring you are!
Alison Nixon June 27, 2012 at 10:51 PM
Thank you Barbara!


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