Students at Saville Elementary School in the Mad River Local School District near, Dayton, Ohio, jumped in their state English language arts testing results from low performing to the highest scoring in their district. How did they do it? Answer: District educators carefully chose a knowledge-building curriculum, Wit & Wisdom, and supporting foundational materials, and thoughtfully implemented them. The process was hard work but well worth it, as teacher Katie E. Luedtke explains in the December 2020 issue of Young Children published by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
There were those who doubted us and our students because of the statistics. But what started as a room full of frustrated teachers became a discussion of research and teaching techniques, and it grew into a school family like no other I’ve seen in the 18 years of my career. While I believe an individual can and should be a force for change, this dynamic shift was the result of a staff coming together. That is why, throughout this article, I intentionally chose the pronoun we, not I. Our success was not just dependent on our students, it was something we all had to deeply believe in. Today, we are still learning and growing together. The knowledge-rich curriculum, adapted to make it our own, changed our school, our teaching and learning, and the dynamic of an entire school. It has changed us. Forever.
The article, “Snippets of Conversation: How Knowledge-Rich Curriculum Can Change a School Community,” and a forward, “A School’s Journey: An Introduction to the Article by Katie E. Luedtke” from Barbara R. Davidson of StandardsWork and the Knowledge Matters Campaign, are available here to NAEYC members and subscribers.
A video featuring the Mad River team’s discussion of the transformative nature of Wit & Wisdom is available here.
An initial story about the “joy of learning” and student achievement using Wit & Wisdom is available here.
A follow-up story on continued student and teacher success with Wit & Wisdom is available here.
Journalist Natalie Wexler features the district and Wit & Wisdom in her influential book The Knowledge Gap.
Diana DiPofi is an account solutions manager for Great Minds PBC. She was born in Conneaut, Ohio, and has remained a lifelong resident of the Buckeye state, attending Ohio University and settling in her hometown, where she served on the local school board. Her storied career in education includes being a classroom teacher at all levels, pre-kindergarten to college, a school administrator, and a literacy coach. She began her work with Great Minds in 2020 and prides herself on the partnerships she has created in both Ohio and West Virginia.