Reinvigorating Literacy Instruction and Student Engagement

Exploring Wit & Wisdom® Implementation in Skaneateles Central School District

The Skaneateles Central School District is located approximately 25 miles southwest of Syracuse in the Finger Lakes area of Central New York. It serves 1,400 students from six small townships in four schools:

  • Waterman Primary School (Grades K–2)
  • State Street Intermediate School (Grades 3–5)
  • Skaneateles Middle School (Grades 6–8), and
  • Skaneateles High School (Grades 9–12).

The district adopted Wit & Wisdom as its English language arts curriculum in Grades 3–8 starting in the 2020–2021 school year.

This resource documents year one of the district’s implementation journey, excerpting extensively from the journal entries that educators started keeping in January 2021, from their monthly videoconferences with the Great Minds® team, and from their end-of-year reflections.

Each of the below sections also provides the opportunity for you to reflect on the implementation experience in Skaneateles Central School District and apply it to your own district context as you assess and/or implement Wit & Wisdom.

  • Implementation Planning
    • Curriculum Selection
    • Goal setting
    • Rollout and Monthly Implementation Highlights
  • Teacher Experience, Professional Learning, and Support
    • Working with Content-Rich and Complex Texts
    • Early Implementation Challenges
    • Teacher Voices: Mastering Curriculum Pacing
    • Professional Learning and Instructional Tools
  • Student Experience and Outcomes
    • Writing Integration and Development
    • Teacher Voices: Watching Students’ Writing Blossom
    • Teacher Voices: High Student Engagement, Strong Academic Discourse
    • Student Engagement and Discussion 
  • Family Engagement 

"In 33 years here, I’ve never had kids so excited about learning ... This rejuvenated me as a teacher."

-Kathy, Teacher, Grade 3



Thank you to the administrators, teachers, and the media specialist who participated in this documentation effort:

  • Francine Grannell, K–12 humanities curriculum coordinator, 25 years of experience, third year in Skaneateles
  • Seth Benjamin, Grade 6 teacher, 18 years of experience, all in Skaneateles 
  • Stephanie Donzella, Grade 4 special education teacher, 19 years of experience, first year in Skaneateles
  • Kelly Gunderson, middle school media specialist, 20 years of experience, fourth year in Skaneateles
  • Gisella Hendrix, Grade 5 teacher, six years of experience, most in Skaneateles
  • Kathy Herr, Grade 3 teacher, 33 years of experience, all in Skaneateles
  • John Lawrence, State Street principal, 18 years of experience, second year in Skaneateles
  • Pete O’Connor, Grade 4 teacher, 23 years of experience, 13 years in Skaneateles 
  • Lauren Pohl, Grade 7 teacher, 17 years of experiene