Geodes® books are across the pond. Really far across the pond—8,436 miles from creator Great Minds® headquarters in Washington, D.C., to Chiang Mai, Thailand.
After weeks at sea and more weeks at a Thai port, the 64-book set of Geodes Level 1 cleared customs and reached Grade 1 students at Chiang Mai International School. The Grades PK–12 school with American roots and a truly international student body—students are Thai, American, British, Dutch, Swedish, Chinese, Korean, and more—is the first international customer for the library of books for emerging readers released in 2018.
Students and teachers already love their Geodes. “I totally like all of the stories because the books are magical,” one Grade 1 student said.
Grade 1 teacher Justin Garcia said, “The way phonics and storytelling are woven through Geodes is genius. The students love annotating and highlighting the books as they read them. Students enjoy taking their books home to show their parents how they engaged with their reading.”
Geodes are a new category of books, called Readables, in the early reader field. Created in collaboration with Wilson Language Training®, Geodes offer beautiful illustrations, content that builds student knowledge, and significant phonics practice.
Geodes titles are set around the world, covering topics in science, history, visual art, and literature, fascinating early readers with their intriguing stories and characters, both real and imagined. They are steeped in the research showing how fact-imparting texts and decodable words are a winning combination to teach knowledge, reading, and writing.
Geodes are aligned with Wilson Language Training’s Fundations®, a foundational reading program that the Chiang Mai school also uses, and work well with Wit & Wisdom, the K–8 English language arts curriculum from Great Minds. The school chose Wit & Wisdom and Geodes after a positive experience with Eureka Math, also from Great Minds.
Chris Capadona, director of Curriculum and Instruction/Accreditation, along with the school’s Grades K–5 teachers, started the curriculum evaluation process with edreports.org, which positively rated Eureka Math and Wit & Wisdom. The Thai school followed that groundwork. “It was a really good place to start, with that heavy lifting that we wouldn’t necessarily as a small private school have the time or the resources to do,” Capadona said.
Chiang Mai students started with Wit & Wisdom for Grades K–5 in fall 2019, along with Geodes in Grade 1.
Capadona said comprehensive curricula such as the Great Minds products are well-suited for students at international schools, as the materials encourage curricular consistency and rigor and challenge already academically high-achieving students, such as those at Chiang Mai International School.
All of the Chiang Mai students go on to secondary education, at universities spanning the globe in the United States, Europe, Australia, and Asia.
“We have a pretty solid success record of preparing students for the rigors of advanced placement classes, college, and careers,” Capadona said. “My belief is that the standards along with a strong curricular framework in K–5 can really help those students thrive in the rigorous courses many Chiang Mai students will take in the upper grades.”
Chiang Mai International School also invested in professional development to help teachers best prepare to use the curricula. As the school is aligned closely with regional counterparts across Asia, Capadona hopes other schools will participate jointly in professional development. The distance from the United States and longer shipping times require careful planning to train teachers before school starts, but Capadona said the extra effort is well worth it.
“There are great things to come in the future here for the school,” Capadona said. “We really think Wit & Wisdom, Geodes, and Eureka Math are one of them.”
Great Minds PBC is a public benefit corporation and a subsidiary of Great Minds, a nonprofit organization. In addition to Wit & Wisdom, the company offers Eureka Math®, PhD Science®, and Geodes® books for emerging readers, developed in collaboration with Wilson Language Training. Great Minds in Sync™ adapts the materials for remote or hybrid learning. Learn more at greatminds.org.