Sparking Ideas of Wonder and Curiosity

Eleanor Duckworth stresses the importance of allowing and encouraging students to become curious and ask questions about different topics and subjects. This can be difficult for many different reasons.

  1. Some students can be introverted and may not feel comfortable asking questions.
  2. Teachers may be limiting the amount of wonder that is created in a student.
  3. Students may not be interested at all in the topic or subject being taught.
This Ted Talk discusses the importance of igniting wonder in students

Strategies to inspire curiosity!!

  • Be curious yourself! Model an open attitude to new and unfamiliar ideas
  • Ask questions and question answers
  • Practice and encourage active listening
  • Relate “uninteresting” or difficult subjects directly to your students’ interests or daily lives

So, what are some specific ways teachers can spark WONDER and CURIOSITY in their students?


  • At the beginning of the year brain storm with students topics that they are curious about
  • When students are finished early with an activity, have them go to the wonder wall and select a question the class is curious about
  • Have the student use a computer or electronic devise to explore the topic
  • They can post their findings on the WONDER WALL
  • If time permits, allow the student to share their findings and hold a class discussion

Have a WONDER DAY or WONDER WEEK project

  • This project begins with an open-ended inquiry based question, that students get to chose
  • You can have the question tie into a standard if you wish
  • For example… “What is the affect of cigarette smoke on lung cancer?” “How realistic is living on another planet?”
  • Have the student do research and share their findings with the class either through a paper, a presentation, a poster, a demo, etc.
  • The video below further explains the project


  1. Hi Shelby! I thought is was really interesting how you started you blog with reasons why it might be difficult to implant Duckworthian ideals into a classroom. I think you raised some very good points, but you beautiful combated those difficulties with ways to access wonder. One thing you did not address was how you are going to get your introverted students to express wonder. Do you have any ideas about how to do that?

    • I agree that getting the introverted students to speak up about what they are wondering may be difficult. A way I was thinking about doing this was to have them complete a wonder activity individually when there is time. This way they can discover something they are interested in without having to talk and share in front of the whole class. After they finish, I’ll post their work on the board and if they wish to share they can, but I in no way will force them to share what they found out. The other students will still be able to see what they found, regardless if the student directly shares or not.

  2. Great post Shelby! I really like the idea of Wonder Day/ Week project – it is a great way to allow students to explore their own curiosities and wonder. How often do you plan to do this in your classroom?

    • Ideally, I would want to do this once a month. When I was in high school I constantly had things I was curious about and they were always changing, so I feel like a month is a good amount of time to balance the standards and what the kids want to know.

  3. Hi Shelby! I like how you discussed the struggles some students have in accessing their curiosity and wonder. It is important for us as teachers to realize the limitations and issues or teaching methods have on our students capability to learn. How would you approach a situation in which your student has not shared any interest of theirs with you and is struggling with their engagement in class?

    • Hi Natalie! In a situation where one of my students has not shared any interest of theirs with me and struggling with engagement, I would try to develop a stronger relationship with them in hopes of discovering some of their interests. For example, I may ask what they did on the weekend and then have that tie into the lesson in hopes of raising their level of engagement.

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