Cultivating Wonder—Great Texts and the Questions they Inspire

Although it has not “officially” launched, readers can visit a new website, and learn about a resource being developed to “showcase great texts (essays, poems, excerpts from longer works) and identify simple, elegant questions for each text; questions that propel ourselves and our students back in the world the author has created; that help pause on moments that are worthy of attention; and that, quite simply, cultivate wonder.”

The original essay, Cultivating Wonder, sets the frame by looking at five questions, from five texts, with a focus on the first five Common Core standards. The texts include Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Martha Graham’s “An Athlete of God,” Mark Twain’s Adventures
of Huckleberry Finn, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night,” by Dylan Thomas “One Art,” by Elizabeth Bishop. By reading the essay, educators are given a chance to see how good questions can unlock great texts and allow authentic access to the CCSS.

About Aaron Grossman

I am a 5th grade teacher at Roy Gomm Elementary in Reno, Nevada. I started working with elementary students as part of the Montana Reads program and AmeriCorps. In 2001, after graduating from the University of Montana and moving to Reno, Nevada, I student taught at Rita Cannan Elementary before receiving a 6th grade position at Veterans Elementary. I moved out of the classroom to be a Literacy Coordinator, then an Instructional Coach, and finally a School Improvement Program Coordinator. In 2011, I began working on the Nevada Academic Content Standards in the district’s Curriculum & Instruction Department. I returned to the classroom for the 2015-2016 school year to teach 4th grade at Huffaker Elementary. Before returning to the classroom, I helped develop the Core Task Project that has been featured by National Public Radio, the Gates Foundation, American Radio Works, Eduwonk, the Fordham Institute, Vox, and the Center for American Progress. In 2014, I received the Leader to Learn From Award for my teacher-centered initiative and work to bring college, career, and civics ready outcomes into Northern Nevada classrooms (here). In 2015, I was appointed by Governor Sandoval serve on the Statewide RPDP Council. The same year, Nevada’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction Steve Canavero placed me on the state’s State Improvement Team. This year I will be part of the National Council on Teacher Quality’s Teacher Advisory Group. I am Google Certified Educator and a Nevada Teacher Ambassador. I believe strongly that teaching content is teaching reading and I make sure my students have ample opportunities to work with social studies, history, science and art outcomes. I do what I can to blend the learning for my students and this blog is part of that effort. You can contact me at
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1 Response to Cultivating Wonder—Great Texts and the Questions they Inspire

  1. CCProf says:

    Why should everybody follow David Coleman’s interpretive views of these texts instead of reading the debates of real scholars of Shakespeare, Mark Twain, and so on? In other words, what expertise does David Coleman add to these discussions? None as far as I can tell. I find it amazing that a 25 page essay that discusses Hamlet and Huck Finn does not have any footnotes or cite any sources. Instead of cultivating wonder this seems like a good approach if one wants to cultivate ignorance.

    If I were teaching either Hamlet or Huckleberry Finn, I would do some research of the scholarship on those books. To simply ignore all the sophisticated writing about these texts and pretend to offer the world original insights is the height of hubris or naivete, or both.

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