Our beloved PE teacher announced this weekend that she is completely redesigning this year's Field Day (which takes place in one week!) with an Olympic theme. Working in a community that supports mostly low-income families, I know that many of our students are unaware of the deep rituals and traditions attached to our modern-day Olympics. I immediately rushed to my very favorite resource - Wonderopolis!
The first passage I encountered was #663 - Does the Olympic flame ever go out? Great resource for us, since we plan to recreate the flame using our tetherball stand. The second resource I found, #133 - What is curling?, may have been great for the winter Olympics, but won't help us at the moment. As I continued searching, I remembered the same lesson I've been working to teach students all year. Searching using one term won't return the vast amount of resources available on the Internet. The same lesson is true on Wonderopolis. As I began to search using other specific terms attached to the Olympics, I ran across great passages that will truly benefit my students. #1263, Who is the fastest runner in the world? will help students understand the amount of speed and effort it really takes to compete at this level. #1332, How long has gymnastics been a sport? will help students understand the history and tradition attached to this global phenomenon. #197, How long is a marathon, will help students understand the stamina necessary to compete. And #872, How do you break the mold? will help students understand the respect and awe awarded to this outstanding athlete.
Although I was initially annoyed at the confusing results returned, Wonderopolis reminded me of a valuable lesson: not every search result seems relevant, but the Internet is smart, and Wonderopolis is genius. Students need these same sort of revelations in order to harness the power of the Internet. Guide your students by using search features in smart ways such as on Wonderopolis. Take the challenge of a Google A Day. Use Get Epic! and experiment with different terms in the search box to identify subject-specific texts. Know that the Internet is only as good as it's users; we can't seek out the answers if we don't create smart questions.