Monday, January 10, 2011

Wonderopolis is a Huge Hit!

My friend Andrea Smith who writes for Choice Literacy and is an amazing science teacher has really helped me this year with my thinking about Life Science.  After meeting with her in her classroom and discussing how to rearrange my classroom to support classroom pets,  how to change my morning routine, and more importantly to me how to connect writing, reading, science and technology.  She suggested this amazing site called Wonderopolis  On a side note, Mandy Robek wrote an interesting blog about having class pets which encouraged me also.

If you have been reading my blog lately you might have realized that I have been thinking intensely how to use the classroom time more efficiently as well as how can I combine my state indicators. This website and the integration with their iPods has been tremendous answer for me.

The first thing I did was show the students the website and explored Monday's topic: Why Do You Get Ice Cream Headaches? Then the students set up their iPod with a new hot button linked to the site. They were hooked at this point-what a great topic to introduce first. The only better thing would have been if I brought in ice cream for them to eat. Note to self remember that for next year :)

As the students enter our morning routine now starts with the Wonderopolis site up on my Smart board. The students read the question of the day and begin writing down their background knowledge (BK) about the daily topic as well as record any questions that they might have. This weeks topics included: Braille, Supernova, pasta,  and Bloodhounds. This is one of the reasons I love this site because of the wide variety of topics as well as the non fiction writing, videos and links that are provided to support the topic.  This week they wrote on notebook paper next week Mr. Mark and I are going to teach them to use evernote on their iPods.

When we start our reading workshop each day, we spend 5-10 minutes discussing the prior topic of the day. Their reading homework each night is to spend time reading the website, recording new facts, watching the video as well as exploring the new vocabulary words.  This conversation has been at a high level including focus on text support for their BK and questions.

Listening to the video and taking notes.
To conclude the week, I allowed the students to pick their favorite topic of the week and answer 4-6 questions which I wrote using the higher level Bloom's verbs. The students used their personal notes, iPods, and I xeroxed some packets of information from the website. Half of the students used their iPods and the rest chose the xeroxed packet and highlighted the notes while they answered the questions.

I am excited to see the topics this week as well as allowing the students to begin to use the Bloom's verbs to write their own questions for articles.  It is a full circle lesson that I believe will be very successful in our classroom.  Check back later for updates on our new classroom pets, evernote and higher level questions.


  1. What an AWESOME way to engage your students! Thank you for introducing Wonderopolis to your students and to your blog audience! :-)

  2. You are doing so many amazing things! I cannot wait to talk to you and your kids and hear their 5th grade point of view about Wonderopolis and how this site inspires independent learning. You are providing your students with such a gift by taking time to celebrate the beauty and the wonders all around us.

  3. Thanks Andrea for the kind word but you deserve most of the credit for sharing the site with me. I do love how technology allows students to work at all different types of levels including topic choice as well as thinking.

  4. Hello Maria,
    I would like you and all the other teachers out there about a new educational grants program called Pets in the Classroom. It is designed to help teachers (K-6th), in Canada and U.S.A. who would like a classroom pet, or to assist those who presently have animals, in obtaining supplies needed to care for their pet. The program offers grants of up to $150.00 for the purchase (or adoption) of small animals such as fish, hamsters, birds, and supplies. Classroom pets stimulate learning, and enrich the classroom experience. Visit for more information.
    Please spread the word!

  5. Jan2010 thanks for the comment I will apply for the grant tonight and will pass the word to other teachers in my building. Thanks for reading my blog and giving me the link for the grant. maria