5 reasons why ‘wonder’ statements help students learn

December is full of holidays that bring wonder, hope, excitement, and memorable moments that bring joy. Wonder can be seen as awe, inspiring, a feeling that lifts one and creates joy. For me, it’s a feeling of delight that warms my soul. December is full of those moments, as I watch children’s eyes sparkle, walk around the neighborhood to see the lights, and take warmth in a faith that continues to inspire wonder and hope. 

Wonder is also linked to curiosity. In Beyond Technology’s Digital Literacy and Computer Science curriculum, we often start our lessons with the statement ‘I wonder…’.

Yet, many take a step back and ask why (‘Why is the sky blue?’). If we stop at the ‘why’ question, we never move forward to solving the problem. The world is wondering why. In late 2020 Google produced a video called ‘Google UK – Year in Search 2020.’ It’s inspiring (and moved me to tears) because the question did not just stay with ‘why?’ 

Why is this a question young children ask as they are growing in their curiosity? Children can ask hundreds of times a day, and it might make some annoyed. Yet this simple 3 letter word is powerful. This powerful video shows what can happen when we turn the questions of why into wondering. 

Wonder statements are the thoughts that are foundational in answering questions. All sorts of questions. A wonder for me has been a key emotion that moves me to exploration. 

‘I Wonder…’ As an educator, especially in technology education, I love this statement. 

Can we as educators inspire wonder? YES! Years ago in my Master’s program, a saying was said often: 

‘Instead of being the sage on the stage, become the guide on the side.’ 

This is what ‘I wonder’ statements do for our students. We guide our students. When we ask our students ‘I wonder how to flip an image,’ students quickly raise their hands with excitement to know the answer. Or they quickly observe to see if they can figure it out before their peers. The excitement of finding solutions drives them to action and learn. Throughout our digital literacy and computer science technology curriculum, we have ‘I wonder’ conversations.

Here are 5 reasons why ‘wonder’ statements help students learn:

  1. Gives students the power to solve problems. Implies that the student can help us with the answer. Most of us want to help others find solutions. Find the answer to the question. When we are asked to help, most will help. This gives our students buy-in to the solution. It gives our students a significant place in the solution process. HELPING others moves us to learn. 

  1. Gives students a safe space to build creativity. Sometimes there is meaning, justice, and logic in the way things are. But sometimes there just isn’t. The moment we realize this is the moment we become creative people.’ Kelly Anderson. There is hidden talent in everyday things. Asking students ‘I wonder’ can set up a safe space to be creative.

  1. Wondering gives our students permission to fail. Specifically in teaching students technology, instead of just telling students how to create the result, when a teacher asks ‘I wonder what will happen when, or I wonder how to, or I wonder why… students will experiment and try to solve the problem. This can take many tries and exploring the possibilities for the solution. Failing is part of the process.

  1. Wondering develops critical thinking skills in our students. We observe a problem. Computer science is all about problem-solving. How to get from one place to the next. We think critically about solving the problem. 

  1. Builds trust and confidence between students and teachers. Teachers are not expected to know it all. You might have moments when you wonder how to do something in Google Sheets or Canva.com. Your students will be there to help you and the whole class finds a solution. This builds lifelong learners that are curious, confident, and willing to try new things. We know we don’t know it all. We are not expected to. Technology is always changing. The teacher and students are in partnership to help each other. Guides with one another.

Wrap up with ‘what I wonder now at the end of each class. BOOM! You now have students thinking about your class, building excitement till they see you again.

This December as you marvel in the magical moments of wonder, know that the incredible administrator/teacher you are can bring this same wonder into your educational spaces.  May you all continue to wonder this holiday season and bring this same magic into the space you walk in.


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