Wit & Wisdom

At Wit & Wisdom’s core is a framework of strategic questions designed to guide teachers and students through reading, writing, and speaking about exceptionally rich and diverse texts. Many award-winning favorites are included that showcase diverse perspectives. Instructional protocols drive deeply thoughtful inquiry into the material. Paintings, photographs, and music are thoroughly integrated and seamlessly connected to lesson studies. Artfully rendered, phonics-aligned, readable texts called “Geodes” reinforce students’ application of sound-spelling patterns connected to the topics studied.

Rich, rigorous, diverse texts:

How Wit & Wisdom designs for:

Deep knowledge-building

Wit & Wisdom devotes six to eight weeks to explore each topic in tightly crafted, multi-faceted lesson sequences. In one grade 4 unit, “A Great Heart,” students explore the heart literally (as an organ) and figuratively (as the seat of courage and love), deepening their knowledge of multiple aspects of “heart.” A unique element of Wit & Wisdom is the close examination of artwork related to the core topics.

Discussions and activities are built into daily practice. Writing is text-based or text-inspired with clear instructional routines to support students. The program pays close attention—devoting 15 minutes daily—to building word knowledge through student-centered vocabulary and morphology routines. Other routines encourage students to engage independently with a range of topic-related texts.

Systematic foundational skills and fluency

Wit & Wisdom does not have a foundational skills component but can work with any research-based program. Geodes, its lyrical series of decodable readers, integrates with ELA topics and can be used with any foundational skills sequence. Grade-level fluency is effortlessly baked into lessons with passages that connect to the module topics.

Equitable access to challenging texts

Close reading is supported by the consistent use of five research-grounded stages—Wonder, Organize, Reveal, Distill, and Know—to engage students in productive struggle and guide their multi-layered explorations of complex texts. Students are habitually asked to reflect on what they are learning and their attitudes about acquiring skills and knowledge.

Topics of study

Learning and exhibiting deep knowledge

Foundational skills instruction

Access Wit & Wisdom

Wit & Wisdom was developed and is distributed by Great Minds.

Wit & Wisdom in districts

Chalkbeat: We changed how our NYC school districts teach reading. It’s working.
Schools across the cities are adopting new reading curriculums. The transition won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.


Keisha Douglas – P.S. 325 Fresh Creek Elementary, NYC, NY

“I’ve learned to step back and give the students more of the torch.”


Jessie Fields – P.S. 325 Fresh Creek Elementary, NYC, NY

“You see the students engage in conversations that wouldn’t necessarily happened if the curriculum was different across the classrooms.”


Jamar – P.S. 325 Fresh Creek Elementary, NYC, NY

“I can say that I have grown with reading understanding. So now, if I read somebody asked me what I learned from the story, I can say a lot.”


Erica Raucci – P.S. 325 Fresh Creek Elementary, NYC, NY

“You can see that they’re more comfortable and confident in their writing and in their conversations.”


Casey – P.S. 325 Fresh Creek Elementary, NYC, NY

“If I just take the easy one, I’m not really pushing myself to learn harder.”


Snippets of Conversation: How Knowledge-Rich Curriculum Can Change a School Community
"Moving to a knowledge-heavy reading diet was hard, but we stuck with it."


Social Media
See a second grade foundational skills lesson in Milan Elementary
From practice with sounds to practice with decodable readers, a look at a foundational skills lesson in a Milan second grade classroom.


Social Media
Powerful testimony from parents and educators in this round table conversation
A wide range of perspectives on value of high-quality curriculum and engagement of students with knowledge-rich learning via this Twitter thread.


Social Media
A virtual visit to Lauderdale County Schools, to see the impact of high-quality curriculum
This expansive Twitter thread from our visit to Lauderdale County takes you into classrooms and conversations with teachers, admins, & parents.


Valencia Smith – Sumner County Schools, Gallatin, TN

“They [teachers] still spend a lot of time outside the school day working… but it’s more rehearsing and fine-tuning.”


Kari Petty – Sumner County Schools, Gallatin, TN

“The Socratic seminars are great. They really enjoy those academic, text-based discussions.”