By Daniel Sonnier, KIPP Wheatley Achievement Director, Teaching & Learning Labs
At KIPP, we’re all about sharing what we’ve learned. We know our mission speaks to more students than we can enroll in our own schools. At the same time, we know that there’s no better way to learn and improve than by sharing what we do with others.
So when we created our KIPP Wheatley literacy curriculum, we were excited to share it outside our walls. With the help of grants from the Charter School Growth Fund and the Schusterman Foundation, we’ve been able to partner with fellow public charter schools to bring KIPP Wheatley into their classrooms.
Our partner schools are in communities from Chicago to West Palm Beach, and range from single-site schools to networks of 10 schools or more. And our collective impact is growing. Last year, over 9,000 students were introduced to KIPP Wheatley in our partner schools. This year we’re at 15,000 students and counting!
That’s where I come in. As the KIPP Wheatley Achievement Director, my job is to make sure that our partner schools have access to all the training and materials they need to successfully launch KIPP Wheatley. Seven days per month I’m on the road, providing on-the-ground support to schools across the country.
Here are three things my colleagues and I have learned over the past year of sharing KIPP Wheatley:
KIPP Wheatley offers a huge leg up towards college readiness…
We created KIPP Wheatley in response to new federal and state college-readiness standards. It’s a study of rich, worthy, diverse texts, and the craft on which they were built. This curriculum does what it does really well—preparing students for college by exposing them to rigorous reading and writing tasks.
In order to get the most from KIPP Wheatley, schools are implementing it as part of a comprehensive and balanced literacy program. That includes challenging students who are already on grade level, as well as supporting and remediating those who still need to catch up. Every school’s approach is different, but each implementation of KIPP Wheatley shows it can make a huge difference in how ready students are to tackle college-level reading and writing.
…but just handing teachers the curriculum isn’t enough.
KIPP Wheatley is so different from what many students and teachers are used to, that you can’t just start using it in the classroom one day and expect good results. You have to build in lots of support along the way.
My job is to provide that support, however it’s needed. When I visit a partner school, I start by sitting in on classrooms to see how teachers are using KIPP Wheatley and diagnose any challenges. I might also observe teachers while they plan or meet in content teams. Then I’ll plan with regional leaders, or lead professional development sessions, or help set goals for the future—whatever a school or organization needs. I’ve even arranged to do virtual trainings in between visits, using video of teachers in the classroom.
After nearly a decade with KIPP, I know how well KIPPsters express gratitude. Our charter partners have demonstrated gratitude at a level I’ve never seen before. Every time I visit, people tell me how excited they are to be using KIPP Wheatley and how glad they are for the support we provide.
Sharing KIPP Wheatley is a two-way street.
When it comes to sharing with others, we get as much as we give. Different partner schools are implementing KIPP Wheatley in different ways. We’re learning so much from seeing this curriculum in action outside of KIPP’s walls.
I’m so excited to see our partner schools getting more and more involved in revising and improving KIPP Wheatley. For example, our friends at Aspire Public Schools in Memphis are often the first to let us know if our assessments need updating or tweaking. In sessions where we solicit educators’ feedback on KIPP Wheatley, over a third of participants are from schools outside the KIPP network.
Not all of our charter partners have the national scope to create a resource like this, the way that KIPP does. So they are thrilled to have access to this curriculum, especially since we’re giving it away for free! In turn, they’re helping us refine and improve the curriculum, which will end up benefiting all of us in the end.
Sharing KIPP Wheatley is just the beginning. This is a gateway to sharing even more of KIPP’s curricula and model with the larger public education community. And as we do, we are excited to learn even more from our fellow public educators.
To learn more about how KIPP shares our resources, visit the Beyond KIPP Resource Library >