Jay’s evolution towards a project-based, collaborative educational model grew from his personal interest in the education of hearing impaired children using an “inclusion” model.”
Jay retired from active participation in the firm in January of 2023. As Principal Emeritus, he provides strategic guidance to the firm and occasionally consults directly on projects when his expertise is needed. He also consults independently on passion projects with schools and Districts.
Before his retirement, Jay was a major contributor to the successes of Fielding International and the field of education architecture around the world.
For more than forty years, he shared his deep understanding and appreciation of the educational challenges facing both children and adults within the teaching and learning environment. His professional experience focused primarily on the planning and design of PreK-12 educational facilities; campus planning and design; public and private libraries; and historic rehabilitation. His project background also extends to urban planning, housing and commercial.
Jay had a deep involvement in the emerging theories of project-based, collaborative teaching and learning that has helped reshape the language of modern school design. His evolution towards a project-based, collaborative educational model grew from his personal interest in the education of hearing impaired children using an “inclusion” model. The emerging theories of the time mandated fundamental changes in the design of the classroom environment such as; learning in smaller groups, working collaboratively on project based assignments, creating multiple modes of learning within one classroom as well as paying attention to acoustics and lighting.
Before his retirement, he developed the idea of a new curriculum component centered on design and problem-solving. This led to the development of the “STEAM Learning Center.” The STEAM Lab teaches students to envision, invent and build their ideas. His vision has resulted in the design and construction of several major STEAM projects both at International, Public and Private School Campuses.
Another innovation that Jay led with the firm was the design of the Educational Innovation Lab. The “I-Lab” is an educational laboratory where teachers have the ability to incorporate teaching and learning methods into the curriculum units that could not be adequately delivered in a traditional classroom. This is a place where education practice and spatial design work in harmony. It demonstrates how new teaching and learning methods benefit from spaces specifically designed to fit a new model of education. The I-Lab enables self-directed, independent and group learning which research has indicated is a key form of knowledge acquisition; students who work together learn more. It provides the infrastructure where faculty can ignite discussion, coach, give feedback, demonstrate, supervise, observe and consult with student teams as they collaborate. There are now three built in the United States.
Jay has led teams for new or revitalized schools and campuses in countries such as Switzerland, Russia, Japan, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. His work with the Sinarmas World Academy in Serpong, Indonesia was recognized by CEPFI (A4LE) with an International Award of Distinction.
Jay continues to be available to the firm’s leadership to help when and where needed.
The space truly allows our students to think, create, present, and flourish. Many didn’t realize how much work went into designing and building the space – and how the details transformed student learning... You have helped us develop a model of innovative instruction, and use space to amplify learning. This could not have happened without Jay’s vision!”
Education Talk Radio Podcast / Equity & Access https://open.spotify.com/episode/4uQlKxh9Vv3ZkmKgSAzeyP?si=e4f1299f4bf44193 Featuring Fielding International's Jay J. Litman, AIA, Partner and Architect, on the Education Talk Radio Podcast with Larry Jacobs discussing the impact of school design on students' wellbeing.
The Future of Education is now! We recently had the chance to chat with Jill Nicolini on Business Talk Radio and share some insights on our research and what we see for the future of education. We hope you listen in to a few of our sessions and learn more about our global leadership in the development of a new language of School Design. The Future of Education for a Post-COVID World. Jay Litman and Jill Ackers begin a 5-week series of conversations. Reimagining the Ritual of School. How can we create a fluid infrastructure that will allow the children of tomorrow to thrive? Fielding discusses what has to change in the basic premises of school design so that we can create new kinds of venues and educational environments to engage and support students in new ways. What should modern learning look like? Children of today won’t enter the “real world” until the early 2040’s! This means the future is now! For the children of tomorrow to find success in a wired AI-driven technocratic society, they must have a solid grounding in the physical world. We believe those schools must support the development of not just skills and competencies but create a learning environment supports the development of critical human skills such as patience, inquisitiveness, curiosity, empathy, collaboration, confidence, humor and critical thinking. With the departure of corridors and autonomous classrooms, new freedom in the Language of School Design has occurred. The morphology of the “School” building has shifted away from the rectilinear office building form to something far more organic. Jay and Jill explain how this design evolved and how it can support and nurture the next generations. Planning and Design for STEAM Education. Experience and insight into the development and design of the supports for a STEAM curriculum and required training of teachers to work effectively in this revolutionary environment. Innovation in education is universal, there are no age boundaries. Although the specific needs of each age group must be considered, the new language of school design is common in all age groups. That is why Fielding works from preschool through post-secondary levels to empower and immerse students and educators in inquiry, dialogue, critical problem-solving, and experiential learning that deepens the understanding of all fields in their educational experience. The Future of Education for a Post-COVID World. Series wrap-up discussion. What next?
A Holistic COVID-19 Response Strategy Written By: Jill Ackers and Jay Litman, AIAGraphics by: Enrico Giori As we release our strategies for a Full Return Scenario our experience working with various public school districts over this summer along with our research has made a few issues very clear. Our three return scenarios: Full Return, Alternating/Hybrid Return, and Flex/Remote Return should not be considered as three distinct choices but rather as a single return strategy. Therefore, we are now presenting the three scenarios graphically as a single fluid process for reopening and maintaining our schools as healthy places for teaching and learning. It is also our hope that you embrace the idea that all solutions should not only find ways to mitigate infection rates but create new kinds of learning spaces that engage your students. The approach presented in this final release will transform learning environments into innovative 21st century learning spaces, moving away from the traditional “cells and bells” configuration, while working to minimize infection rates. In the end, it is our belief that all solutions must create a safer school environment that enables all learners to thrive! The strategy of deploying all three scenarios in an agile and flexible system will provide the framework for you to develop reopening options that work best for your school district. Consider this a new toolkit with which to build possible solutions and consider the vision we have illuminated. All scenarios require strict discipline in individual factors and environmental factors. The environmental factors are outlined in this release as well as a link to the technical brief prepared by our partnering MEP Consultants: Creative Environment Corporation (a division of Thielsch Engineering). The individual factors include the school department protocols of contact tracing, health questionnaires and individual temperature taking as well as parents observing their kids, notifying schools of sickness of their child or of children they found to be sick. Over this Summer we have focused our development of suggested strategies for reopening schools on the three scenarios. Each scenario is based on the understanding that the COVID-19 virus is principally spread as an aerosol contaminant, much less so as droplets. The vapor cloud will rise to the ceiling in each classroom and then settle down. The concentration of viral particles is the key to how effectively it will spread in a classroom. This can be mitigated by everyone wearing face masks, dilution of the viral particles by aggressive ventilation of the air volume with fresh outside air, by filtration of the classroom air with a HEPA based air filter at the ceiling, and if possible, filter systems that use a UV-C chamber system. It is clear we cannot do all these things due to time and money, but focusing on the individual and environmental factors is something most school systems can certainly achieve. It is important to understand that the transmission rate of COVID-19 is affected by individual behaviors and environmental factors, which are listed below and incorporated in our “Day in the Life” scenario. Based on the factors we have presented, here is how we envision a transformative spatial configuration for a set of rooms in the Full Return Model. The classroom set up is based on FI’s “Learning Communities.” In a Learning Community, spaces are shared to allow for a range of learning activities and for teachers to work collaboratively. Ideally, each group of three classrooms would connect through shared internal doors typical in most school classroom arrangements. Each classroom would be set up for a specific set of learning modalities. For instance, in one iteration, the middle classroom would act as a collaborative learning commons. The classroom on the left could be set up as a project-based set of workspaces and for presentations. The classroom on the right might be set up as instructional space and for group work. There are endless possibilities with such an organizational strategy. For instance, one room could be set up for reading related activities while another room might be set up to better support social-emotional learning activities. In Middle and High School, this arrangement would support interconnected STEM or STEAM curriculums. The next part of this strategy to minimize potential COVID-19 infection involves establishing 4-6 collaborative student groups or “Stable Groups” within each classroom cohort. The CDC recommendations for classroom modifications results in a return to a 1950’s arrangement of desks and chairs, all in rows and facing forward. As well-meaning as this advice is, it does not recognize what is happening in the classrooms of today’s schools nor is it a good strategy to minimize infections. As discussed, we are proposing a paradigm shift from the typical one teacher for each isolated classroom to a more collaborative Learning Community model. Instead of 20-25 students packed into each available 700-900 SF classroom, we propose joining at least three contiguous classrooms into a richer and more flexible learning environment. Not only would each classroom be outfitted for a different combination of learning modalities, the students assigned to each teacher would be grouped into 4-6 collaborative teams. Each student team would remain together to minimize a sudden mass infection when a child within a team becomes ill. The “Collaborative Team” concept represents an uneven grouping of students, within the existing three collaborating classrooms. While students would maintain the 3-foot/1-meter distance recommended by the WHO, each project group would maintain a distance of 6-10 feet apart. The teacher is able to utilize a direct lecture mode, or circulate from team to team. This arrangement will also give time for teachers to quickly isolate a potentially sick child and perhaps quarantine the suspect collaborative team while offering greater distance and protection for the other students. This approach will transform learning environments into innovative 21st century learning spaces, moving away from the traditional “cells and bells” configuration, while working to minimize infection rates. The “Collaborative Team” or “Stable Group” concept would result in the zoning of each classroom into a series of learning modality zones. Each zone would consist of a specific furniture grouping designed to support a different set of tasks and group work. For instance zone B1 would tend to support ad-hoc levels of conversation such as brainstorming and discussion while zone C4 would be more supportive of group presentations. It’s important to remember that each classroom cohort would have access to all the zones within their three-room Learning Community. However, the collaborative teams formed from each classroom of students would remain together for the fall semester. Who We Are Fielding International exists to make the world better by improving environments for learning. As an interdisciplinary team of architects and educators, we partner with school organizations to design learning spaces and experiences that promote student agency, enrich well-being, and cultivate authentic learning communities. With nearly two decades of award-winning educational facilities across 50+ countries, we remain deeply committed to reimagining the future of education alongside the communities we serve. How Can We Help You? Covid Resiliency Page
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