Professional Learning

Litchfield Intermediate School

Professional Learning: Our Philosophy and Our Work

At LIS, we believe providing a rich and varied educational program will engender in students a love of learning and the confidence to explore their unique talents as they grow, taking their places in society as creative thinkers and problem solvers. Our mission at LIS is to support and encourage this growth through diverse and engaging learning opportunities. You will find examples of this mission in our classrooms, the curriculum, and programming throughout our school. As part of this mission, our focus continues to be on the integration and development of our programming to include 21st Century skills. These skills include creative and critical thinking, real world problem solving, communication, and global mindedness. To this end, we continue to develop our offerings in our already strong STEM opportunities, more time for the study of Spanish, and a continued focus on the integration of language arts and social studies to build rich units of study that reflect our history and current world issues. Our EnVisions 2.0 math program continues to encourage our students to think like mathematicians. The development of our imaginations and creative expression is supported through our programmatic offerings in art and music. We believe the arts are integral to literacy and the innovation necessary for today’s world.

Our talented and dedicated staff create a school and professional culture that represents a community of learners focused on the whole child and our continuous improvement in all aspects of teaching and learning. Our staff is special because we think differently about matters in education. We think deeply about the theoretical underpinnings of our educational choices, and we study our implementation specifically. Through this, we trace our metacognitive processes to study our thinking and learning to increase our professional growth in a collaborative manner. We do this in a student centered and student directed environment. We do this because we believe the deep study of all aspects of teaching and learning will improve the opportunities we offer children, increasing their achievements, happiness, and contributions to our world. It is our hope that you, too, find Litchfield Intermediate School to be a very special place for all students. We love our work, we love working with our students, and we look forward to our continued partnership in achieving a standard of excellence in teaching and learning for all.

We would like to share with you some of the research and literature that has enabled us to meet the needs of the 21st Century learner:

Book Cover: Pathways to Common Core
Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement.
Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth, and Chris Lehman

LIS staff studied this book in response to the new Common Core State Standards. The book focuses on English/Language Arts and the new demands for increased rigor, more sophisticated text complexity with a shared balance between fiction and non-fiction. LIS continues to meet this need by teaching students how to closely analyze text and think meta-cognitively about their learning process. Pathways to the Common Core provided us with a conceptual framework to study these important strategies. Our work in close analysis of text and meta-cognition continues each year.

Book Cover Picture: Make Just one Change
Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions
. Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana

LIS began its approach to professional learning through staff book studies a few years ago. Spearheaded by our library media specialist, Debbie Benedict, LIS embarked on an inquiry-based initiative to encourage students to ask their own questions to guide their own learning. Through the study of Make Just One Change, LIS adopted the Question Focus Technique (QFT), a strategy to help students identify through a constructivist lesson structure the important aspects of the subject matter they were learning. The QFT process continues to be a utilized strategy in our teaching repertoire.

Book Cover Picture: Reading Workshop 2.0
Reading Workshop 2.0: Supporting Readers in the Digital Age
. Frank Serafini

Through a Connecticut State Department of Education mini-grant award, our Language Arts and Social Studies Coordinator and Reading Teacher, Katie Sullivan, obtained funding to bring in a researcher from the University of Connecticut to work with our staff on digital literacy. As educators for the 21st Century, we recognize the need to teach students reading strategies for digital print. This work included ways in incorporate meaningful opportunities for technology integration in the classroom. Reading Workshop 2.0 served as a resource for our understanding of that need.

Book Cover Picture: Envisions Math 2.0
EnVisions Math 2.0 by Pearson, Inc.

In the 2015 – 2016 school year, our K- 6 math coordinator, Lori Shuhi, embarked on a mission to identify the best resources to meet the demands of the Connecticut Core Math Standards. In its fourth year of implementation, the new standards required a new approach to math: one focused on inquiry or constructivist learning approaches and real world problem solving. Through the EnVisions 2.0 program, students explore multiple ways to solve problems. Students then dialogue with each other about their process. Emphasis in the classroom is on this problem solving dialogue and process. While we continue to pursue the deep understanding of concepts and numeracy skills, math instruction is no longer just about finding the right answer. Our professional learning in this new way of teaching math has included workshops delivered by Mrs. Shuhi, as well as work with a consultant from the publisher. These efforts continue this year.

Picture: Teacher Rating Pie Chart
The recent federal legislation regarding teacher evaluation has prompted Litchfield to align its teacher evaluation plan to the Connecticut SEED (System for Educator Evaluation and Development) requirements. To continue in this effort, District staff have participated in workshops led by the administration to study the rubric on which all teachers are evaluated. This work has led to an increased knowledge of discreet characteristics of exemplary teaching.