The program Wonders was adopted by Byram Hills to foster a love of reading in grades K-5 by providing a comprehensive set of connected resources. Wonders offers instruction specifically designed to create experiences that increase student engagement, build language skills, and inspire confidence. The lessons place an emphasis on listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. These skills improve academic and social language and accelerate student progress.
Every student has a reading/writing companion and a literature anthology book that is colorful and appealing to children. It is broken down by genre, each opening with an essential question that students think about as they study. Genres always begin with a shared read. It takes several days to get through an article because the class closely analyzes the text and works carefully on the vocabulary words. Listening comprehension exercises are done through read-alouds from rich, authentic stories and informational selections from award-winning authors and illustrators.
Wonders includes the best of blended learning. Every print resource is available digitally so that it can be utilized from home or school. The program consists of thousands of books, hundreds of interactive games, videos, songs, research projects, and a myriad of optional resources to extend or create lessons and respond to students’ interests and needs. “There are many critical thinking questions and a lot of going back to the text to support the answers and to find evidence,” said Ms. Pui Cheung. “This is new for our students and a skill that you would see in higher grades.” The program is different from what students have had in the past, but they are adjusting well.
“During instruction, I log on to Wonders, pull up the lesson of the day on the big screen so the class can see, and model the thinking,” said Ms. Cheung. “I can show them how to pull out a detail and write it underneath the paragraph, and then they do the same.” The program provides all of the necessary resources and includes activities focused on word work, spelling, and phonics. “A nice attribute that Wonders incorporates is social studies and science,” Ms. Cheung shared. “In realistic fiction, we talk about cultures around the world, and that is great for students. It is truly integrated learning.”
There is also an assessment component to this program that monitors comprehension progress to evaluate student growth every few weeks and identify difficulties. The most vital part of the Wonders program is the online component. “On any given day, a child may have to stay home, but they will not miss out on the instruction because they have online access,” said Ms. Cheung. “That gives us all such a sense of peace and is the strength of this program.”
To provide the ability to pivot from in-school to remote learning at any time, and to offer students a strong educational experience in English Language Arts, an online learning program was imperative. Wonders provides Byram Hills K-5 learners the tools they will need for academic success.