Sunday, August 12, 2018

My Wonder Project

Inquiry opportunities provide students with opportunities to do research, collaborate, build interest and connect to real world issues.  In Elementary School settings, K- 2 teachers can set up inquiry stations so that children can enter in the mornings and choose to be curious from the start like the amazing Aubrey DiOrio and Caitlin McCommons in Wake County!  I learn so much from their leadership in Wake County, NC at Brier Creek Elementary School!  They piqued my interest on “Inquiry for Littles” at the 2018 NCTIES Conference which I blogged about and shared with my K-2 teachers.

Teachers can set up a more formal opportunity to explore topics that students generate based on their interests.  One way that I set this up is to have my Grades 3 - 5 students explore, choose a topic that they want to know more about and take notes on the topic in a Google Sheet.  I show them how to copy and paste the web address in the address bar into their Google Sheet along with their Question from Wonderopolis and a Summary of their reading.  I love Wonderopolis because it has topics organized by categories like Science, Technology, Social Studies and ELA.  Plus, a new article is written every day, Monday - Friday, and posted to Wonderopolis’ website!  Children can even listen to the article as a voice reads it aloud to support comprehension.

I model this process for my students by first sharing a topic about which I am interested that I found at
I place my Question in my Google Sheet of “Why is world hunger still a problem?” and summarize the Wonderopolis text in my Summary column of my Google Sheet.  Next, I show students a print resource called Beatrice’s Goat by Page McBrier.  After reading it aloud, I type a summary in my Summary section of my Google Sheet and include the name of the book.  In this book, a charity organization named Heifer International, provides a goat to a family in Uganda, Africa.  This goat provides milk and allows the family to sell the goat’s milk and milk products from the goat to members of their rural community.  The money that they make allows the family to send the daughter, Beatrice, to the community school and provides materials to build a sturdy house for Beatrice’s family.

Next, I go to and typed in Heifer International to learn more about this organization helps people around the world.  I love to also share a video about how to analyze a website using the acronym TRAAP which means:
T - Timeliness
R - Relevance
A - Accuracy
A - Author
P - Purpose

We analyze which we found at the Sweet Search website and determine that it passes the TRAAP test.  I add this website as a resource to my Google Sheet and then summarize information that I learn about this organization in my Google Sheet. I am now ready to copy and paste my summaries into digital projects or record myself on Flipgrid to explain what I learned.

Once students had researched at least three topics at Wonderopolis, I had them choose their favorite topic to show what they had learned.  I have bookmarked at my website and placed in their Google Classroom a list of kid friendly search engines so that student could search for additional information on their topic found here:
-Sweet Search
-Safe Search Kids

As a way to have students share what they learned, I have students go to to create a digital project to showcase information learned.  I would show an example of a Trading Card and a Movie Poster that I would create using Big Huge Labs' website.  We pretend that a movie has been made about how to end world hunger and use my summary in the Big Huge Labs Movie Poster.

I also have children search for images for their Trading Card or Movie Poster at and go to Advanced Search to filter for free images to copy and share.  Once I place the images in the Trading Card and Movie Poster, I copy and paste the poster into a Google Slide or Google Doc.  Kids could also do a shared Google Slide presentation and be assigned a slide where they would paste their Trading Card or Movie Poster about their Wonder Topic.  I love the versatility of the tools in Big Huge Labs because they allow children to create a quick project after reading about any topic, but in this case, they would have chosen a Wonder Topic at Wonderopolis.

I also give them choices to create Word Clouds using their Summaries.  Here is my Word Cloud Summary from “Beatrice’s Goat”:

Children are naturally inquisitive and want to know more about the world.  Giving them safe search sites and a note taking scaffold will help them as they continue to read for information and dive deep into inquiry.  They love to share what they have learned with others in Flipgrid and in shared Google Slides along with other tools like SeeSaw.  How do you provide opportunities for Inquiry and Wonder Projects with your students?

Bio of Lisa Maples:
Lisa Maples is the K-5 Technology Teacher at Elon Park Elementary in the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and a former 3rd and 4th Grade Teacher in Greensboro, Raleigh and Charlotte.  She is a National Board Certified Teacher and holds a Master's Degree in Reading from UNC-Greensboro.  As an NCTIES 2016 Outstanding Teacher Award recipient, a 2014 PBS Learning Media Digital Innovator and a Google Certified Educator, she provides multiple creation opportunities for students to create and make with Cubetto Robots, Sphero Robots, Code and Go Robots, Lego WeDo 2.0 kits, Keva blocks,  iPads, Chromebooks and Desktop computers.  Visit her blog to see reflections on her lessons at and follow her on Twitter at @edu_maples.

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