Teaching research skills directly at the beginning of the school year and continuing to collaborate on embedding those information literacy skills with teachers on projects, assignments, and lessons throughout the year is essential in fostering an inquiry-based environment for our students. If students feel confident in their ability to locate information efficiently and effectively, they will naturally begin to use credible resources for their own inquiry-based projects.
With that being said, I want to focus on a way to passively keep students engaged in practicing research skills like finding credible resources, analyzing information, and sharing their findings with others. I use #WonderWednesday as a means to promote a fun research learning experience for our students.
What is #WonderWednesday?
What is #WonderWednesday? I pose a question on social media and on our Wonder Wall in the library with a hint as to where to find more information about the subject. Students then discuss the question on the Wonder Wall throughout the week. I tend to post questions relating to issues in the news or about holidays/monthly celebrations to have more engagement in the practice.
Why do I do this?
What library standards does this cover?
SLEI (School Library Evaluation Instrument) Performance Standard 5: Effective Practices for Research
The school library media specialist teaches and models developmentally appropriate best practices for learning and research.
• Promotes and models an inquiry-based approach to learning and the research process
Future Ready Librarians Framework
Ensures Equitable Digital Access: Provides and advocates for equitable access to collection tools using digital resources, programming, and services in support of the school district’s strategic vision.
Builds Instructional Partnerships: Partners with educators to design and implement evidence-based curricula and assessments that integrate elements of deeper learning, critical thinking, information literacy, digital citizenship, creativity, innovation, and the active use of technology.
Designs Collaborative Spaces: Provides flexible spaces that promote inquiry, creativity, collaboration, and community
ISTE Standards for Students
#3 Knowledge Constructor: Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others
#6 Creative Communicator: Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.
The Setup of our Wonder Wall
I used book fair funds to purchase a gigantic whiteboard from Amazon. Our amazing custodians helped me install it on our wall (which took a very noisy drill and some muscles but was overall painless). The board has held up over time and is super easy to clean with glass cleaner or whiteboard cleaner. Normal whiteboard markers do not work well so I use chalkboard paint markers instead.
This is open to all of our students and staff to use, but I do closely monitor the board for comments. Be prepared for comments like "Mrs. B was here" the first few weeks as students get accustomed to having the extra power to communicate. However, with middle schoolers being the lovely risk takers they are, I make sure to monitor for some more inappropriate comments that may arise. Luckily, we have some amazing students and this has not been an issue.
Who would win in a fight: Batman or Superman?
After originally posting a #WonderWednesday to our school library Instagram, a group of students and I got into a rich, albeit nerdy, discussion on who would win in a fight: Batman or Superman? So of course I capitalized on this and posed it to our Wonder Wall. This is just an example of how to utilize this method for your students.
Where to go from here?
After having done this for 6 months, I have learned how excited students get in the discussion aspect of the questions. I would like to start implementing an action step to go further with their learning - like creating a video or something similar to show their thought process, what they learned, etc. Is this realistic for them to do every week? Probably not. However, I would love to see this go beyond a Wonder Wall discussion! I'm trying it this week with Earth Day so we shall see how it goes.
School Librarian in Metro Atlanta