Combating the Spring Slide with Wonder

Mar 20, 2018

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Kristie Ennis

Feeling the apathy oozing from your students? It is that time of year, friends, the Spring Slide, when the weather is starting to warm up (well, unless you live in Ohio like me), the hormones are raging, and the countdown until the last day of school is posted in the front lobby. With roughly nine weeks to go for most, this is the time of the school year when everyone, students and faculty included, gets restless. The thing is, there are still NINE WEEKS LEFT. Some view that from a deficit perspective, as is easy to do when you’re feeling like you’d rather be enjoying the sunshine than be stuck indoors all day. I challenge you to look at this as a benefit — you still have nine weeks to positively change the lives of students.

One way to do that is with a Wonder Project. Louisville, KY teacher Maegan Woodlee and I worked together to develop a project for her seniors, who were feeling the senioritis earlier than ever this year after the holiday break in January. The idea was to switch up instruction to make it standards-based, but also highly individualized and interesting so students would be more engaged. Here's an abbreviated breakdown of the project:

  • Teacher leads an open discussion in which students generate as many wonders as they can think of and post them in a prominent place in the classroom. Ms. Woodlee used her chalkboard; I used sticky notes and my classroom windows.
  • Students decide which questions are appropriate for further research and list their top three.
  • Teacher facilitates the assignment of research topics to students based on their preferences.
  • Students explore Wonderopolis first to see what they can find that's related; the content is easily accessible to all students and highly engaging, so even the most reluctant or struggling readers can do this!
  • Teacher guides students through a study of ethical and effective research skill, using the library, the Internet, and expert testimony.
  • Students gather relevant research and document their sources properly.
  • Teacher makes Google Slides tutorials available to students and as a whole group the class works through effective presentation skills.
  • Students create their own Google Slide presentations on their original wonder question that shows their research and conclusions.

The students have begun turning in their products and there were some excellent samples! If you're looking to spice things up but maintain a standards-based approach to learning, try out the Wonder Project!

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