Deep understanding of each module and the Wit & Wisdom approach will empower you to fully leverage the curriculum to foster students’ knowledge and skill building.
As you begin to teach with Wit & Wisdom, you will want to do the following:
1. Recognize the shifts in teaching that Wit & Wisdom may require.
Many of our new teachers have reported that Wit & Wisdom required shifts to
Knowledge-building as a central focus,
Complex texts (in place of leveled texts) for all students,
Rereading to deepen comprehension,
Student-centered discussion and inquiry, and
Integrated skill instruction.
As a Wit & Wisdom teacher, you will facilitate students’ learning through their collaboration with classmates and independent work. Students learn and retain more when they productively struggle with the curriculum, doing the heavy lifting themselves. Your role is to facilitate. As they read (and reread) complex texts, you pose important questions for them to ponder, write about, and discuss. After you provide direct instruction, students practice the skill and receive feedback from you and their peers.
2. Internalize the module.
You must internalize the curriculum to teach it effectively. The Implementation Guide and Moving Forward with Wit & Wisdom deepen your understanding of the curriculum. Our preparation protocols at the module, Focusing Question Arc, and lesson level deepen this internalization, building understanding of the what and why of each module. Completing the protocols helps you understand how students develop knowledge and skills over the course of the module, arcs of lessons, and individual lessons; this understanding of how learning unfolds and what comes next help you guide student learning effectively and maintain appropriate pacing. After year 1, preparation time lightens. In subsequent years you can refer to year 1 completed protocols, updating and supplementing them as needed.
3. Prepare your classroom (or virtual space).
Consult the Wit & Wisdom Implementation Guide, pages 43–44 for guidance on setting up your classroom and preparing materials. Use the following checklist to plan and document progress:
Review the module and consider your students’ needs. Depending on your context for learning (in-person, online, or hybrid) determine which charts to post where and when for continued student reference.
- Module questions (Essential Question, Focusing Question, Content Framing Question, Craft Question)
- Content Stages and corresponding questions
- Writing models (for the module’s writing type, e.g., ToSEEC for informative)
- Anchor Charts (charts used throughout the module for student reference)
- Socratic Seminar guidelines and sentence frames
- Content-area and academic vocabulary
- Core texts
If in-person, core texts can be kept in the classroom and distributed as needed for homework. If teaching at a distance or hybrid, students will need 1:1 copies of core texts to bring home.
- Student Response, Vocabulary, and Knowledge Journals
- If in-person or hybrid, students maintain separate composition books, notebooks, or 3-ring binders. Identify where these will be kept in the classroom. If online, students maintain a virtual journal, ideally in an online space where they can easily share responses with you.
- Lesson materials
- Core texts
See the Materials list in each lesson and communicate in advance to families/caregivers during distance learning.
CLASSROOM CONFIGURATION: IN PERSON
- Configure desks to support collaboration.
- For younger students, mark off spaces in a separate whole-group floor area.
CLASSROOM CONFIGURATION: ONLINE
- Identify the mode of delivery of asynchronous instruction.
- Identify digital communication platforms, such as Zoom, Google Hangout, or Microsoft® Team for synchronous instruction.
- Identify digital platforms for providing and exchanging assignments and feedback, such as Google Classroom, Schoology®, or Microsoft® Teams.
4. Build a supportive learning community.
As you know, students learn best when they feel safe enough to take academic risks. Think through how to establish your English Language Arts classroom community so that students know the routines and expectations and feel safe to engage in thinking, reading, discussing, and writing about module texts and topics. Consider teaching Module 0, a brief opening module that introduces the curriculum, establishes instructional routines, and fosters students’ connections to each other and their learning:
Engaging families and caregivers will also help build a strong learning community—particularly if your school will be engaged in distance or hybrid learning in the 2020–2021 school year. Share Family Tip Sheets to extend learning at home:
- Be forgiving! Students and educators are experiencing an unprecedented situation—and Wit & Wisdom is a multi-year implementation curriculum with a lot of learning in year 1.
- Collaborate with colleagues in your district. Consider completing the preparation protocols collaboratively, as your work with colleagues will deepen your understanding of the curriculum. Share ideas for in-person or online setup.
- Collaborate with colleagues nationwide through Wit & Wisdom online communities.
- Maintain your focus on prioritizing key skills and knowledge and engaging students in the gold of the Wit & Wisdom texts. Explore this resource from Student Achievement Partners for additional information: 2020-21 Priority Instructional Content in English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics. In daily instruction, focus time and attention on the Learn sections of the lesson. Maintain a quick pace for Welcome/Launch activities and informal checks, like Whip Arounds or Quick Writes.
- Continue to use the Teacher Edition as your guide and work with your team to adjust pacing as needed. Students will benefit from deep engagement and a thoughtful pace. This may mean that teachers do not complete a full lesson each day or all four modules in the academic year.
- Check out additional tips within the preparation protocols.
Director of Implementation Success, Humanities
Liz was a New Hampshire public-school educator for 30 years, serving as a classroom teacher, Special Education teacher, and Literacy Coach. During her last few years in NH schools, she also worked part-time for Great Minds as the lead writer for Grade 4 Wit & Wisdom. When the curriculum was finished, she transitioned to lead the Professional Development team and supported districts with Wit & Wisdom implementation.
Now, she serves as the Director of the Humanities Department’s Implementation Success team. Liz leads a team of more than 100 educators who create and deliver professional learning opportunities including PD, coaching, and strategic planning sessions, to teachers and school leaders across the country. Liz is passionate about high-quality education for all children, especially when it helps all teachers, leaders, and students actualize their greatness.
Topics: Implementation Support