Long-Term Learning Strategy: Notice & Wonder

This is the fifth in a series of posts highlighting classroom strategies that support long-term, profound learning, rather than short-term, superficial learning.  The previous posts are linked below.

In this post the learning strategy Notice & Wonder is shared and connected to the vision in Article V: Organizational Transformation in which we recognize the necessity for students to take ownership of their own learning.  As the students advocate for their own learning, they self-manage and monitor the gap between their current understanding and the goal of transfer. We hold that: V.j Profound learning (owning the knowledge) as opposed to superficial learning (short-term memory) comes more from engagement and commitment than from various forms of compliance, coercion, sanctions, or rewards. 

As educators design classroom environments and learning experiences conducive to such profound learning, they integrate opportunities for students to make connections, seek generalizations, and inquire about the content.  The simple, yet impactful, structure of Notice and Wonder may serve as a vehicle to foster skills that lead to profound learning.

Notice and Wonder is a learning strategy that teachers may use to slow down classroom discussion, promote deep thinking about a prompt, and draw out questions from the students.  Think of slowing down classroom discussion in a positive light – much like wait time in the classroom, or allowing students to think and process information before the teacher jumps in with the correct response.  Like the four other learning strategies shared in this series, it is important to note that Notice and Wonder should be accompanied by scaffolded support.  Stopping to ask yourself, “What do I notice?” is not natural without previous experience with this question.  The same applies to, “What do you wonder?”

If you have asked yourself any of these questions below, I encourage you to try Notice and Wonder with your students:


How do I support students to make sense of problems/prompts/content?

How do I support students to ask questions worth answering?

How do I support students to advocate for, and manage, their own learning?

Notice and Wonder is simple: Provide a prompt.  Ask, “What do you notice?” Provide sufficient time for thinking.  Ask, “What do you wonder?”

This strategy can be varied with the use of student journals, sticky notes, and hand signals.  Notice and Wonder can be used in any content, any grade level.  A few examples are provided below.

Notice and Wonder in Mathematics

Kristin Gray shares Notice and Wonder in mathematics in this Teaching Channel video.  Used in conjunction with a numberless word problem, the students use this strategy to make sense of a given context.

Notice and Wonder in Reading, Language Arts

As described in her blog, Hannah Braun shares the strategy Notice and Note through the lens of reading.  Based on the book, Notice & Note: Strategies for Close Reading by Beers and Probst, Ms. Braun describes key features of the learning strategy, all of which call for the student to recognize specific signposts and respond with a relevant question to dig deeper into comprehension of the text.

Notice and Wonder in Science

Anne Stevenson shares in her article about I Wonder Boards, a method to foster student inquiry by capturing student wonderings on sticky notes.  Ms. Stevenson included how the questions posed by the students may be used to drive the focus of the learning experiences.  In addition, by capturing the wonderings on sticky notes, the students are able to see progress as the questions can be checked off as they are answered through carefully designed learning experiences.

Teachers should use an intentionally designed prompt to elicit student noticings and wonderings.  The image below is an example of how to remove much of the definitive information from a graph to begin to draw out of the class what they notice and what they wonder about the data.   Then, the teacher may add axes labels and other measured data points to focus the classroom discussion on specific concepts.  This gradual reveal of context allows the students to practice sense making so they may become equipped to do so when they encounter new situations in the future.  A description of this process can be found here.


When students are empowered with learning strategies such as Notice and Wonder, they will grow to become confident, capable problem solvers capable of profound thinking.

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