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January 2016 | Volume 58 | Number 1
The Wonder Years
Remember being young and having more questions than answers? Learn how to nurture your students' natural curiosity by making room for wonder.
When 1st grade students at Oakland Elementary School in Inman, S.C., have questions, they know where to go for answers. They could ask a teacher, of course, but more often than not, students will jot down their questions—What is a cornucopia? How can I stand up to bullies? Why do we have hurricanes?—and post them to the Wonder Wall, located in a central hallway. Fourth grade students are responsible for selecting a question, researching the topic, and then posting their answers for the entire school to see.
This simple activity answers many learning needs: the younger students learn that asking questions is natural and encouraged and they recognize that other students—not just teachers—can be reliable sources of information. The 4th grade students hone their communication skills by researching a topic and sharing what they learn. And teachers find that when they give students the time and space to wonder and follow their curiosity, students will extend their learning far beyond grade-level expectations.
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