Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Tuesday Slice: The Wonder Wall

The Wonder Wall in the library got a good wipe-down yesterday evening, as the last task of the day.  It was a new addition to our walls this school year, one of those large, black, magnetic boards that you write on with neon-colored markers.

It was the second-most-favorite library activity in our student end-of-year survey, ranking just behind book fairs.  I enjoyed coming up with the pictures every two weeks, trying to find something that made them wonder and ask questions. 

And ask questions, they did!  There was a flurry of sticky notes surrounding each picture...and half of them ended up in the trash each week.  Why?  Because the students had difficulty coming up with "wonder" type questions.  Any question that began with "Is it a..." was discarded.

The directions on the board were simple.
1)  The questions posed must begin with who, what, where, when, or why.
2)  If the question can be answered by looking at the picture, then it is not a "Wonder Question".

I had to add the second after I posted this picture:  

and got a lot of sticky notes that said "Is it Darth Vader pouring water?"

I spent a lot of time reminding the students about how to ask a "Wonder Question", and I'm sure I'll spend a lot of time doing so next year.  But asking those deeper questions is so very important in this age of multiple-choice assessments.  

I realized how ingrained finding the right answer was in the student population when I would occasionally post a picture for which I had no explanation, like the one above.  I would get groans at the Friday assembly when I announced that "this picture has no answer that I could easily find".  It didn't deter me from finding more unanswerable pictures.  I want students to be curious, ask questions, wonder about things.  It is in the wondering that we grow as learners and explorers and innovators.

The Wonder Wall will appear again next year in our library.  I'm already looking for just the right picture to start the school year off with some good, healthy musings.


  1. I'm still working this week, too! I LOVE your wonder wall idea, and this line---It is in the wondering that we grow as learners and explorers and innovators.---Greatness!

    1. Sonja, it came from my recent experience in an IB elementary school. It is so easy to do, but has great implications! I find so many students lacking in curiosity these days, so I'm doing my part to try and fan the flames a bit!

  2. I love this idea! I'll definitely be creating a "Wonder Wall" this summer for the new school year. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. You're welcome, Paulette! I already have my picture up for the fall. It's such an easy activity, but interesting how hard it seems for the kids to learn how to ask the "right" questions.

    2. Oh, and if you have access to Britannica Imagequest, it's a great source for photos. Just type in "unusual" for your keyword. :-)