Friday, December 6, 2013

50 Things Fifth Graders Wonder About...

I have spent the last week introducing writers' notebooks to a class of fifth graders at a school in Newark, NJ.  One of the entries students began were a list of things they currently are wondering about. This is a list that they will add to throughout the year.

I modeled for them an entry I had started where I wondered about two things:

  • What are the types of things that can’t get lost? (I'm thinking about a line from Neil Young's song, Old Man. He says, “Give me things that don’t get lost…”)
  • What are multiverses?  Is there an exact you and me functioning in some parallel universe?

Then, I got out of the way and the students took over, recording in their notebooks the kinds of things they wondered.  We shared some and then returned again to the notebooks to record more. After we concluded (about 6 minutes), students wanted answers to their wonderings so we spent the next 20 minutes researching and recording interesting and important information in our notebooks.

Here's a partial list of students' wonderings:

  1. Why are dogs color blind?
  2. Is time travel possible?
  3. What made all of the universes?
  4. Is the Earth being duplicated?
  5. I wonder about this quote: "Oh, my dear Miss Everdeen I thought we agreed to not lie to each other."
  6. Why do people say, "It's going to be okay," when it is not?
  7. What is beyond our universe?
  8. How did scientists learn about the moon before traveling to it?
  9. How many different worlds are there?
  10. How did Hawaii form out of a volcano?
  11. Why is there animal cruelty?
  12. Why do cats have sharp claws?
  13. Why are people's noses, mouths, eyes, and ears different?  Why are there variations?
  14. Who was Charles Darwin?
  15. Is Area 51 real?
  16. What caused dinosaurs to become extinct?
  17. Why are there different sounds in the world?
  18. Will we cure breast cancer?
  19. Why do we have a zodiac?
  20. How was the idea of a Bermuda Triangle formed?  
  21. Where are the 10 dimensions? How can I understand each?
  22. How many moons are in our universe?
  23. How do myths begin?  Are they true?
  24. How many universes are there?  Are any the same as ours?
  25. Why do people adopt wild animals like tigers, cheetahs, or lions?  What prompts this?
  26. Is there really a man named, Moth Man?
  27. Are aliens real or made up?
  28. Why do most people think money is the solution to their problems?
  29. Why do some people take their anger out on others when it was someone else who made them mad?
  30. What are crop circles?
  31. Why are there only 12 months?
  32. Who created homework?
  33. What will humans look like 1, 000, 000 years from now? How will we evolve?
  34. How are snowflakes alike?
  35. What will happen next?
  36. Are there parallel universes? Can we move between them?
  37. Can you time travel and still live?
  38. When will my dad's work calm down?
  39. How do adaptation and variation connect?
  40. What would happen if the Earth died?
  41. What is the most endangered species in the world?
  42. Are there superheroes? Can we believe in them?
  43. Why are some things in the world dangerous?
  44. How are wormholes created?
  45. Are there medicines that can cure AIDS?
  46. How do brain tumors form?
  47. How man planets have water on them?
  48. What's evolution?
  49. Can you curve a bullet like they are shown in movies?
  50. Can we get rid of radioactive waste safely?


  1. Like Pablo Neruda's question poems.

  2. so love this.
    better than common core ness.. no?

    1. Certainly more authentic and it provides us with a way to inquiry that is not forced or misused as it comes from actual questions that children have. They also have the right and the responsibility to change those ?s as the need arises.


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