A few days back, I came across this amazing website called “Wonderopolis” (http://wonderopolis.org/), with the perfect tagline: Where The Wonders of Learning Never Cease. Now, who wouldn’t be fascinated? I want a world exactly like that. I like the idea of wondering (obviously), but I also love for the wondering to be heard in class. To actually get inside the brains of my students and know what on earth are they thinking! Whenever they stare in space. During lunch time. Whenever they see a peculiar object. How they view people, how they see the world. It’s funny how we teach things that we adults think are important to know, when our students ask the questions that reveal the things that are important to them.
I started the Wonderopolis Project, and immediately it had an impact on my students. My purpose is simple: to make inquiry fun, personal and more consistent. I asked them on a voluntary basis who wanted to join the project. The volunteers wrote one wondering on a post-it note. Each of them would have the opportunity to share, depending on which day they fall at. A lot of them asked if they can write more wonderings.
The wonderings are hilarious and interesting! From “Do girls flush their toilets?” to “Why do Cheetahs run so fast?” to “Who made God?” Things I’ve learned from my students: 1) I don’t have all the answers and there are so many things that I don’t know; 2) I discovered that they wanted to know more about their teachers; 3) I learned about the things that matter to them.
Are they simple questions? Maybe yes, maybe no. But somehow I know they are valuable. For instance, my students inquired about my family tree for her Wonderopolis project. As we were working on it, she and some of her classmates were shocked about how big my family tree is. This led to learning about the Filipino and Indian culture, the similarities and differences. This led to the differences amongst generations, the life before and now. This led to some of the current issues families are facing. It wasn’t just about my family tree- it was about culture, history and issues. I can’t wait to see where ‘do girls flush their toilets’ will bring us.
I’m looking forward to more exciting Wonderopolis Project sessions with my students. I thanked one of my students for being so passionate about the project and shared to her how I enjoyed it. Her answer: even I.