“Trust in the process” was a common phrase I heard as I began implementing Wit & Wisdom® in my classroom. So I did just that, placing my trust in the process that first year as I successfully taught all four modules. It was my third year of teaching, and implementing a new curriculum was not a simple feat. But by the end of the year, having successfully used a rigorous, research-based curriculum for the first time gave me a sense of accomplishment as a new educator. During that first year, I gained confidence in my teaching, learned how to fine-tune my preparation, and along with my students built stamina for learning. We dove into Hatchet during Module 2, navigated both sides of the American Revolution in Module 3, and built our knowledge of myths and their diverse impact on culture in Module 4. Wit & Wisdom provided me with robust tools to maneuver through those years of novice teaching and a firm foundation for instructional practices and time management skills.
Wit & Wisdom supports knowledge building by gradually adding complexity to the topics presented and strategically revisits previous learning. This intentional spiral of information and skills practice helps students succeed in reading, writing, speaking, and listening in complex texts. Teachers can trust that students will have many opportunities to engage with a particular text or concept and add to their knowledge and skills throughout the year. This trust allows teachers to progress efficiently through each lesson.
Below I offer some practical tips to help maximize your time with your students. Every minute matters, and these small strategies can make a big difference.
Quick Tips for Mastering Pacing
- Annotate with time stamps
- Invest in tools
- Prepare materials ahead of time
- Build a strong foundation of instructional routines
Annotate with Time Stamps
One of the most critical components of successful implementation is managing the pacing of each lesson. The Teacher Edition provides time stamps for each lesson section. The Welcome and Launch sections are allocated 5 minutes each in most lessons. A block of 55 minutes for the Learn section, the heart of the lesson, follows. To maintain the program's integrity, teachers must work to stay within the parameters of those timeframes. Sticking to the timeframes helps students remain engaged with the lesson. I also benefited from annotating my lesson according to my instructional schedule. Time stamping helped me ensure that students moved through each lesson properly. For example, I might annotate the Welcome section to indicate that it should take place between 8:25 and 8:30 and the Launch between 8:35 and 8:40. Glancing at section times provides a quick reminder to move forward if needed. Time stamp annotation was especially beneficial in those first years of implementation, as I learned the rhythm of instruction.
Invest in Tools
A timer is one of the most effective tools for teaching Wit & Wisdom. Being mindful of the allotted time for each section ensures movement within each lesson and helps teachers and students avoid feeling as if they are trudging through mud. I set the timer for students to Think–Pair–Share, collect evidence, or complete a jigsaw activity. When the timer sounded, students knew to come back together and give me their complete attention. This allowed for seamless transitions.
Another helpful tool is a teacher-created slide deck. Creating a slide deck supports deep preparation and helps teachers internalize the lesson so they understand exactly where the lesson is going. When preparation time is limited, using an existing slide deck, like the ones offered with Wit & Wisdom in Sync™, helps teachers stick to the lesson and ensure that students stay focused on learning goals. A slide deck also helps students understand directions, key questions, and expectations for the lesson, so no one is slowed down by a lack of clarity. As an example, posting the question for a Think–Pair–Share in the slide deck allowed my Grade 4 students to discuss the question immediately instead of trying to recall it.
Prepare Materials Ahead of Time
Proper preparation of lesson materials is critical for the success of each lesson. Before each lesson, I reviewed and prepared needed resources, including anchor charts, response journal templates, and materials posted on Google Classroom™. To build knowledge, students need access to resources that help them read, think, explore, and respond for most of the class time. It also helps to hang on to your anchor charts! You can use those again, year after year, which will take some time off your materials preparation.
Build a Strong Foundation of Instructional Routines
I wanted my students to engage in instructional routines efficiently and effectively (e.g., conducting Socratic Seminars independently or knowing the ins and outs of a Chalk Talk). With Wit & Wisdom, it is critical to “go slow to go fast.” I spent time at the beginning of the year carefully teaching the procedures for the instructional routines and making sure that they ran smoothly. When teachers take sufficient time at the beginning of the year to explicitly teach instructional routines, students internalize each routine’s purpose and know how to engage in the learning to move through the lesson easily. Because I established the routines in Module 1 and had students practice the transitions and expectations for engagement, student learning in Modules 2–4 was much more efficient. Module 1 might take a little extra time as the students learn your expectations and procedures, but those later modules move more quickly because your routines are firmly in place.
The age-old saying of “timing is everything” certainly applies to using high-quality, rigorous curriculum. Teachers cannot afford to lose even a minute of instruction. Wit & Wisdom provides the tools needed to ensure effective timing as a part of preparation, planning, and teaching leads to meaningful student engagement. With strategic planning, commitment to excellence, and yes, a timer, educators can make the most of their time with Wit & Wisdom.
Anna Bradshaw is from a small town in southeastern Arkansas. She is a multi-classroom leader in Crossett School District where she supports third through sixth grade literacy teachers. Crossett School District was one of the first schools in Arkansas to adopt Wit & Wisdom. She taught fourth grade for five years before transitioning into her coaching role for the 2021 - 2022 school year. She had the honor to win CES Teacher of the Year in 2020. Wit & Wisdom has changed the trajectory of her teaching career by providing the opportunity to be part of the Fellowship and the ability to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to be successful.
Topics: Implementation Support