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Dr. Jeff Beckley Earns Mary L. Fitch Trust Grant for Jefferson Marine Science Elementary Schools

Dr. Jeff Beckley Earns Mary L. Fitch Trust Grant for Jefferson Marine Science Elementary Schools
NPS Communications

On June 21, 2024, Dr. Jeff Beckley received a grant from the Mary L. Fitch Trust for just shy of $10,000 to fund his project Building Thinking Classrooms at Jefferson Marine Science Elementary School.

As Norwalk Public Schools continues to develop its work on the Portrait of a Graduate, the pillar of Critical Thinker plays perhaps the most important role moving ahead and will be a heavy focus next school year at not only Jefferson, but across the district.

Dr. Beckley, the Instructional Coach for Mathematics at Jefferson, has been hard at work trying to prepare Jefferson math instruction to follow a Building Thinking Classrooms (BTC) approach. The author of this approach is Dr. Peter Liljedahl, a professor of mathematics at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada and a former high school math teacher, who has authored and co-authored many books and articles in education.

The core of the philosophy rests with the question: “How do we get more students to think, and think longer?”

BTC has 14 components that were developed over 15 years of research:

  1. What types of tasks we use
  2. How we form collaborative groups
  3. Where students work
  4. How we arrange the furniture
  5. How we answer questions
  6. When, where and how tasks are given
  7. What homework looks like
  8. How we foster student autonomy
  9. How we use hints and extensions
  10. How we consolidate a lesson
  11. How students take notes
  12. What we choose to evaluate
  13. How we use formative assessment
  14. How we grade

For the purpose of the grant, Dr. Beckley will be training the staff through a year-long book study to examine mathematics tasks and student groupings as well as purchasing equipment to transform the physical space for students. Some of these equipment changes include the addition of Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces (VNPS) such as white boards on wheels. The goal is to provide this worldwide-recognized approach to foster Critical Thinkers!

Congratulations to Jefferson Marine Science Elementary School and Dr. Jeff Beckley and a huge thank you to the Mary L. Fitch Trust for this award!