During the class discussion we had with Dr. Norm, we were introduced to an interactive online tool that facilitated student participation, assisted students in the process of learning, and established a high level of motivation. This tool is called…Wonder Walls.
To put it simply, a Wonder Wall is a virtual bulletin board with a built in chat that kids can add questions (including images) to or chat with one another and/or an educator. A “Wonder Wall” is a way in which students, group members, faculty, peers, etc. can connect, with the help of a moderator (the teacher, perhaps?) and work together in a colorful, playful, exciting, visual, and stimulating way space. Wonder Walls promote synchronous and asynchronous communication…meaning; individuals can interact with one another simultaneously, or at separate times, at whatever times work best for them. When users (students) are logged on at the same time, they are aware of each other, see new posts as soon as they are posted, AND can live chat with each other. All posts are permanent unless the poster or moderator (teacher) deletes them, so users and moderators can log in later to read and add to the posts.
Dr. Norm is the original creator of the MSU Wonder Wall. The original was simply an 8 foot by 3 foot large piece of blank white paper and magic markers. Children, students, teachers…any visitor to the Children's Garden were encouraged to write anything they wondered about throughout the day.
The Original Wonder Wall accessed from wonderwall.msu.edu
The new and improved electronic Wonder Wall began with the same principle in mind. Digital, online Wonder Walls are specialized and stimulating environments that facilitate within students a sense of curiosity, fun, excitement, and importance…they also support inquiry, reflection, and cooperation; three very important elements of a child’s education.
The New and Improved Online Wonder Wall accessed from wonderwall.msu.edu
There are so many different things Wonder Walls can do and be used for…here are a few:
1. Connect museums, gardens, other educational locations with school children beyond the field trip.
2. Connect children and students with each other between class-times and meetings.
3. Connect entire classrooms with distant scientists, educators, and enthusiasts.
4. Engage learners with each other and encourage a sense of wonder.
5. Wonder Walls provide both synchronous and asynchronous connectivity.
During the time I spent with Dr. Norm, I was able to see how enthusiastic students are about the Wonder Wall, especially upper elementary students. It appeared that, the more comfortable students become using the online Wonder Wall, the more complex and thoughtful their questions and posts grew to be.
I would love to create one for my future classroom. It would be such a great tool that my students could use outside of the classroom. I would use it as a way to promote extended learning. I could have my class ask questions and I could facilitate discussions relating to topics being discussed that week. It would be very beneficial in a science unit, or ANY unit.
To learn more about using Wonder Walls and how to create your own Wonder Wall, follow this link!