Author: Maltby, Owen

Defined Professional Learning Opportunities

Defined Professional Learning Opportunities

The CSDE, in partnership with Defined, will offer two introductory professional learning opportunities in February. Defined Learning and Defined Careers are two of the three components of the Defined ecosystem available to all CT districts at no cost.

Defined Learning

This immersive and collaborative professional learning session is designed to introduce teachers and curriculum leads to Defined Learning’sstandards-based resources and best practices for implementation. The session will be held February 27th from 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM EST at 165 Capital Avenue, Hartford. This session is designed for educators who are new to Defined Learning.

To learn more about the Defined Learning, watch this short video.

Click here for more information and to register.

Defined Careers

This immersive and collaborative professional learning experience brings together school counselors and educators to deepen their understanding of how to utilize Defined Careers in the classroom, in advisory, and for career guidance. The Defined Careers resources are aligned to 16 Career Clusters and 79 Career Pathways to provide broad exposure for students.  The session will be held February 28th from 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM EST at 165 Capital Avenue, Hartford.

To learn more about the Defined Careers, watch this short video.

Click here for more information and to register.

All inquiries can be sent to Cheryl Tokarski at

Jen Roggi at AMTEC

Jen Roggi, alongside her UConn intern, Katie Kuegler,  presented to pre-service teachers from across the state at the AMTEC Mathematics Pre-service Teacher Conference held on January 27, 2024. The focus of their presentation was how the use of self-reflection and guided discourse can promote positive math identities and student agency and help to develop a strong math community within the classroom. Participants were shown how small changes can help with students’ perseverance, risk-taking, and collaboration, allowing them to see themselves as a valued member of the problem solving community.

Shawn McClory at AMTEC

Shawn McClory presented to pre-service teachers from across the state at the AMTEC Mathematics Pre-service Teacher Conference held on January 27, 2024. Shawn shared his presentation on how to effectively launch a lesson using methods from Peter Liljedahl’s Building Thinking Classrooms. He demonstrated tasks that promote student engagement – both for the immediate task and long term, positive math identities, and proficiency with many SMPs. In this session, participants are students first as they do a problem solving task and model a launch for engagement. Shawn and the participants then debrief and share what they learned and tips for developing and implementing effective launches. As a last step, participants select a problem solving task, develop the launch, and have the opportunity to practice with others.

Financial Literacy Requirement in CT

Superintendents of Connecticut Schools received the following communication from the Commissioner of Education on Thursday, January 11, 2024:

Financial Literacy 

In response to Public Act 23-21 (An Act Concerning Financial Literacy Instruction), the CSDE has reviewed endorsements appropriate for teaching financial literacy courses. In an effort to provide flexibility to districts, it has been determined that these courses may be taught under any of the following endorsements: 

  • 010 Business Education 
  • 026 Social Studies/Economics  
  • 029 Mathematics  
  • 045 Family Consumer Science 
  • 089 Marketing Education 
  • 104 Cooperative Work Education  


Also, a new EDS assignment code has been created for districts to properly identify educators teaching these classes: Financial Literacy/Personal Finance (90120). 

Additional Financial Literacy Course Guidance will be forthcoming from the CSDE Academic Office. 


The Financial Literacy Guidance is going to be in a format of a “Course Kit” which will guide the implementation of a FinLit Course or accumulation of the credit in flexible learning models. The CSDE hopes to release the artifact to the field at the end of January.


We thank you for your patience as we work to bring you tools to help successfully equip your students with the skills they need to be prepared for Learning, Life, and Work Beyond School.  Please feel free to contact with any questions.

ATOMIC Conference Registration

We are pleased to announce that registration is OPEN for the 2024 ATOMIC Conference

Please join us on

March 25, 2024
7:00 am – 4:00 pm

Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale



Non-Member or Member Renewal Price

$140 (includes 1-year ATOMIC membership)

Member Price


Pre-Service Educator Price


Continental breakfast, coffee all day and buffet lunch are included with registration as well as parking! The parking has been updated from last year to include two garages and no need to visit a teller.

STEM Research Study

Kenya Overton, as part of her doctoral journey, is working with a professor in the Neag School of Education at UConn who is conducting a study on STEM teacher turnover within Connecticut. They are seeking math or science teachers with at least 10 years of experience in the profession and self-identify as Black or African American.

With funding from the National Science Foundation,they are studying STEM teacher movement and attrition in Connecticut. From data gathered by the CT State Department of Education, they uncovered dramatic variation in science and math teacher movement based on individuals’ race and gender. However, that information is very limited and they can only speculate about the underlying stories that explain this phenomenon. Consequently, they wish to conduct interviews with science and math teachers who could share their perspectives with us.They are particularly interested to learn from Black teachers who have been in the profession for approximately ten years. The plan is as follows:

  • For those who agree to participate in this study, they will arrange for three interviews for which each participant will receive an average of $200 per session. The first interview will be an individual interview scheduled at a time convenient to the participant in early 2024. This interview will be approximately 75 minutes in duration and could take place either in-person or virtually. The second interview would involve three to four STEM teachers in a focus group and will require about 90 minutes. Once again, depending on participant preferences, the focus group could be in-person or virtual. This would be scheduled in late spring. The third and final interview would take place during summer and would be individually scheduled. We anticipate this interview would require 75 minutes.
  • The goal for this study is to identify factors supportive of math and science teachers remaining in the teaching profession. They anticipate uncovering a range of personal, workplace, and institutional variables that contradict the common sad stories of teachers leaving their schools or departing the career. Knowing what traits, characteristics, and systems that promote math and science teacher retention would inform discussions about diversifying the STEM teaching profession and also enlighten schools and universities about approaches that could remedy long-standing shortages of math and science teachers.

If you are or know of any Black math or science teachers who might be interested in participating, I encourage you to pass this message along to them. Interested persons can email Kenya Overton at or Dr. John Settlage at to provide their contact information. They will then follow-up with additional information about the study so they can make an informed decision about participating. 

Your assistance with promoting this study to potential participants is greatly appreciated. The challenges of diversifying the teaching workforce must attend to retention as much as to enticing new entrants into the profession. Your support assist in capturing the realities of STEM teacher turnover which will in turn inform practice and policy.

Fellow Spotlight

Jackie Rankin, Bulkeley High School, Hartford Public Schools

Noyce Fellow Jackie Rankin, along with Hartford-colleague and Noyce Fellow Kate Grayeb, are spearheading an effort to support Hartford math in taking up and implementing the Building Thinking Classrooms (BTC) (Liljedahl, 2020) instructional model. Jackie and Kate were asked by her math director to co-lead this work with a cohort of 30 teachers from grades 6 through 12 who are piloting BTC. In this role, they present webinar-type sessions for teachers, to inform them of the key ideas and philosophies of BTC and facilitate collaborative study groups throughout the year to support teachers as they implement the model in their classrooms. In addition, Jackie was TEAM trained (mentoring training for the state) as part of the Noyce program and is hosting a student teacher from UConn this year. Jackie is excited to mentor and collaborate with her student teacher and highlight the benefits of teaching math and teaching in Hartford. Extending her leadership activities, Jackie presented to teachers, coaches and math leaders at the Association of Teachers of Mathematics in New England (ATMNE) annual conference in October in Portland, Maine. The session focused on effective task design- drawing on BTC principles – to enhance engagement and student autonomy. Jackie is teaching Algebra 1 and a Freshman intervention course called Transition to Algebra this year. 

Fellow Spotlight

Kelsey Onofrio, Joseph Melillo Middle School, East Haven Public Schools

Kelsey Onofrio is one of two 8th-grade teachers at Joseph Melillo Middle School in East Haven. As a Fellow, she has stepped into multiple leadership roles this year at the school-level and beyond.  Last spring, Kelsey opened her classroom for math coaches from Hartford Public Schools to observe the Building Thinking Classroom (BTC) model in action. Within her school, Kelsey will be a TEAM mentor for the first time, supporting a new 7th-grade math teacher. Drawing on her experience working with the BTC model, Kelsey was asked to lead an interdisciplinary initiative to bring the model to all subject areas at her middle school. In addition, Kelsey was invited to participate as part of East Haven’s team in an interdistrict consortium through The Acceleration Networked Improvement Community (NIC) and Partners for Educational Leadership. Reaching out state-wide, in August, Kelsey – along with Fellows Marta Soto-Johnson and William McKinney – hosted a Back-to-School Webinar on BTC and how to design curricular tasks that promote student autonomy. The webinar was attended by educators from across the state and is posted online at this link.