Teachers can join up and serve as Wonderguides, curating content for the site and helping to create rich, meaningful learning "Paths" and lesson plans to help kids encounter awe-inspiring things in their world and bring depth and nuance to their exploration. Teachers might also search the pre-created Paths to find questions and prompts that relate to their classrooms. Keep in mind that the site is developing and changing rapidly. Some sourced videos come from sites that aren't always kid-friendly, though the developers are phasing out such external content. Regardless, check the videos and the existing user-generated content before sharing it with your class, just to be on the safe side.Continue reading Show less
The Wonderment is a website that seeks to build global awareness, empathy, and engagement through kids' shared exploration of the world around them. Kids encounter individual "wonders" (such as "Hear Your World," where kids capture a real-world sound and submit it to their classmates). Kids start by registering with an email address and create an avatar -- a bot -- that they can then use to visit different learning "Paths" on the site to explore different themes. There's a monthly theme and some weekly Paths to explore, and kids must address their chosen Path's challenge (usually something artistic) and submit their creation before exploring other kids' work. Kids can add their own creative content, a comment, or a sticker, and their submission will cause the Wondermeter to rise. Users can also use their actions to earn the right to update and outfit their bot beyond its simplest, default settings.
About that Wondermeter: It's a giant display whose level rises with each user submission on the site. Once it reaches its highest point, the latest user-picked project -- such as a water-sanitation project in a developing country -- will be funded by an outside donor. Kids never pay to use the site, but their participation effectively crowd sources community-improvement projects around the world as chosen by the kids who use the site.
The idea behind this social-networking site is extraordinary; it's inspiring to find a site whose mission is to inspire wonder in kids around the world. It also manages to leverage those kids' passion to do outreach and service work for those who need it most. The most encouraging thing about the site is its developer's commitment to improvement.
Some Paths include outside content (a BuzzFeed video was one unfortunate example), but the site is moving toward making all its video content come from its users (and from teachers in particular). The developer has also enlisted teachers to create new paths -- including lesson plans -- that other teachers might use to drop the Wonderment's activities directly into the classroom, which parents could conceivably use as well. The site doesn't quite deliver on its promise yet -- there's still work to do and a huge volume of wonders to address -- but it's an awfully good start. Overall, this is a neat site for getting kids to create novel solutions to address or depict the things that amaze them in their world, and it's likely to get better and better in the years ahead.
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