This month, we dive into Geodes®. These readable books help students practice foundational skills and build knowledge. Because the product design allows for flexible classroom use, many K–2 educators may wonder how to best integrate Geodes into their classrooms. Danielle Gaither, a Great Minds® implementation leader, shares practical steps to help teachers get started with Geodes.
Even if the calendar says otherwise, New Year’s Day comes in August or September for many educators. This time of year invites reflection on past years in the classroom, enthusiasm for what comes next, and commitment to trying something new.
Educators may have noticed literacy discourse shifting toward the science of reading, a field of promising research. Literacy journalists including Emily Hanford and Natalie Wexler cover topics such as the importance of systematic phonics instruction and the role that knowledge building plays in reading comprehension. With more knowledge about the science of reading and with additional skills to implement this kind of instruction, educators can expect a transformational year in the classroom. This year, more teachers than ever resolved to incorporate Geodes into their classrooms.
Geodes do not constitute a program. Rather, they function as a resource to bridge foundational skills instruction and Wit & Wisdom® modules, connecting best practices in phonics instruction and knowledge building. That is, Wit & Wisdom, foundational skills instruction, and Geodes work together in an effective literacy block. Geodes let students practice decoding skills through authentic texts that bolster background knowledge and vocabulary in science, history, and the arts. Teachers use Geodes flexibly to best meet the needs of their students.
Getting Started with Geodes
Those who make New Year’s resolutions in January often need support to keep their commitments. Educators committed to using Geodes starting this fall are encouraged to take the following steps: organize their Geodes library, prepare for instruction, and consider how they will share Geodes with students’ families. The following five tips offer help for each of these steps.
Organize the Library
Tip 1: Open the boxes to explore Geodes. Geodes include books for the classroom, take-home books, the Inside Geodes® teacher resource, and a real geode. Select a book that sparks your interest. Examine Inside Geodes to find the Book Notes for your selected Geodes book. Book Notes describe each book’s features and provide instruction options to help educators use Geodes with their students. You will quickly notice how Geodes simultaneously build knowledge and support students’ foundational skills.
Tip 2: Give students access to Geodes. Consider where you will keep Geodes materials in your classroom; make these resources available when students have extra time, start the day right by providing Geodes as students enter the classroom, or create routines for students to access Geodes at home to continue their learning. Display Geodes in an exciting and accessible way so students will want to explore these beautiful books! Keeping Geodes accessible allows students to grab a Geodes book when they have time to read throughout the day. Geodes come with My Geodes® print take-home books, and many schools have started using the My Geodes digital platform to encourage students to read outside of the literacy block.
Prepare for Instruction
Tip 3: Prepare to use Geodes to support students' accuracy, fluency, and comprehension. Students might face hurdles in one or more of these areas while engaging with complex texts. As you start instruction and get to know your students, collect data to consider students’ accuracy, fluency, and comprehension needs. With Geodes, all students have the opportunity to read the same books. Your Geodes instruction can help students approach each text based on their needs.
Tip 4: Plan for multiple reads with different levels of support. Aim to share one or two new Geodes a week with students. Plan supports while also considering how to remove them as students improve their accuracy, fluency, and comprehension. For example, some teachers start the week reading a Geodes book aloud before working with students in small groups. At the end of the week, teachers transfer the reading responsibility to students.
Share with Families
Tip 5: Introduce Geodes to students’ families. Sending home My Geodes printed materials or providing access to the My Geodes digital platform includes students’ families in the classroom. Family Tip Sheets communicate the knowledge and skills students build as they read Geodes. The books give families tangible examples of grade-level text, including word patterns and knowledge students should have and continue to build. At the end of each book, the More section—available in English and Spanish—can deepen students’ and families’ knowledge of Geodes topics together.
Much can be celebrated at this time of year, even if the actual New Year feels a long way off. Great Minds relishes supporting educators who are unwrapping Geodes and preparing to use them with their students. Find more information about the Getting Started with Geodes professional learning session.
Danielle Gaither worked in North Carolina public education for 23 years as a classroom teacher, a reading interventionist, and a district-level literacy intervention coach. During her district's implementation of Wit & Wisdom and Geodes, Gaither served as a Great Minds fellow, facilitating Great Minds professional learning for her colleagues locally and nationally. Gaither now works for Great Minds as an implementation leader, supporting successful implementation of Geodes in the Southeast.