I Notice, I Wonder

Subtitle: Get Some Big Bang for Your Buck!

I notice recently a lot of teacher-bloggers employing “What do you notice? What do you wonder?” in their classrooms. (Examples here and here.)   I notice that it is typically posed at the beginning of an exploration of a new concept.  I notice that it is being used across all grade levels, successfully. I notice how this is related to Kate Nowak’s solid advice about inverting lessons (You do, Y’all do, We do.), and Dan Meyer’s insightful analysis of traditional text books (You can always add. You can’t subtract.) I notice that all of these strategies go a long way (potentially) to empower students to be active learners, something I definitely want and need help with.

I wonder where, or from whom, this Notice/Wonder strategy originated? I wonder if I can just Google it?  (Update:  Yes.)

I KNOW this is a gem. I’ve dabbled with leaving-off-the-questions myself, although not nearly enough. I found that whenever I omit the questions on a task, students then focus first on understanding the situation. With the questionsin place, usually preceded by a series of steps of Thing to Do, some students rush forward to answer the question, whether they understand it or not. Their goal is to be “done” and “right” and, perhaps, to look “smart”. The students who lack rushing-in abilities, for whatever reason, are now panicking or intimidated, unable to think. No one is learning.  Omitting the question now puts everyone in the same place, focused first on the same important thing: understanding the situation. (This is a GREAT place for I notice, I wonder!) Once a situation is fully understood, then they also know not only what kinds of questions they can ask answer, but also how they will get there.



2 thoughts on “I Notice, I Wonder

  1. Hi, Just MSU. I’m glad you’ve discovered I Notice, I Wonder and its power, especially with math “scenarios” (situations that don’t have explicit questions). I hope that you tracked it back to us at the Math Forum. You’ve summarized some of its power well by pointing out that it’s a great tool to help students focus on sense making and understanding rather than calculating. A quick resource to share with colleagues who may not be so enamored (or who simply say, “What??” when you tell them about it) is my Ignite talk about it. 5 minute commitment you can get any math teacher to do. https://youtu.be/a-Fth6sOaRA Enjoy, and thanks for sharing your experiences with others!


    1. Hi, Annie- I did indeed trace it back to you folks, and plan to investigate more. Thank your for your link, too. I’m predicting a “Notice/wonder” culture in a classroom will go a long way to nurture curiosity and heighten engagement.


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