Author Archives: bsullivan35

About bsullivan35

I am an English teacher working with great students at an independent school in Ct.

Women’s History: PD Launch for #PBL Among #CAISCT Ts & Ss

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 1.07.33 PMWhat famous Connecticut women made history in your community? Who is making history now? What significant woman’s contributions to your community history has been overlooked? Forgotten? Undervalued? Start researching and writing about your local history. We will plan to do the same research and share research methods when we published our discoveries on this CAISCT PBL blog. Bill Sullivan’s class will also be putting on a community presentation to the town’s historical society in April of 2019 where the students will share what they learn and show how they learned it. In some ways, CAISCT students and teachers can find their own venues to add more depth of authenticity to the way they share their local history discoveries with their community. Perhaps it is best to consider this work as another form of service learning.

Curious about using a classroom blog and student-operated Twitter account to accommodate project-based learning? Plan to join our day hike for the 2018-19 academic year and dive into this authentic, local history challenge. Any CAISCT learner is welcome to collaborate on the CAISCT-PBL blog and Twitter account. So provide your students the opportunity to write history and appreciate the discipline form another perspective. They will soon learn that Connecticut’s history is complex, and one ingredient of our historic inquiries acknowledges that a local history perspective will CAISCT learners shed a new light in the historiography of Connecticut’s narratives. Lisa Leveque from Rectory School and Bill Sullivan from Suffield Academy will share their students’ learning experiences while working on one blog during the 2016-17 academic year in which they investigated freedom and slavery in the pivotal year of 1774 as well as the 2017-18 academic year, which pursued homefront issues of WWI.

Bring your day hike bag and learn about next year’s inquiry into Women’s history and set your students on an adventure course where they explore possible nominees for the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame in their community. http://cwhf.org/induction-ceremony/induction-process#.WvxbmNMvzaYWomen’s History: PD Launch for #PBL #CAISCT Teachers

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Got HOT Log? A Great #PBL Assessment

Higher.order.thinkingSimply stated, a HOT Log (Higher Order Thinking Log [log = systematic record, journal of one’s intellectual expeditions) explains what you have learned, what you want to learn next, and what skill(s) you will apply for your discovery. Because we will categorize each HOT Log on the blog, we will be able to access anyone’s discovery when we begin to synthesize our information before our final presentation. As a class we will assign students to compose individual HOT Logs ritualistically (every 7 or 10 days) or sometimes the research process prompts us to do so sooner or in groups. Sometimes when the student(s) discovers an interesting collection of sources, primary or secondary, it is best dive into the source and upon. Likewise, when students make discoveries together or when the class makes multiple important building block moments, students can team up and compose these HOT Logs together. The most important feature of the HOT Log process occurs when students follow up with the PQP peer review process.

Another way to describe this Project Based Learning writing assignment is to think of this task as an intellectual reflection on your next step towards our goal of finding more information about members of the Connecticut 20th Regiment. You should explain what skill you will use to learn this next topic or research step.

In 500 words, make a claim about the necessity to explore one, specific resource (article, book, periodical, web site, historical society, historian (even better if we can Skype him/her}, historical library [I am a member of The Connecticut Historical Society), movie, technology or other research tool, learning lens, such as Place Based Learning, etc). Your short paper will evaluate the potential importance of this source for our investigation as well as building upon our research story.

In terms of skills, click here (http://www.pinterest.com/bill0353/ } to reflect on the possible skills you will need for your next steps.

Be sure to include an informative and pithy (concise and forcefully expressive) title and embed complementing media (video if possible, clear and interesting image, audio link, etc).

Citation standard. Let’s have a list of sources at the bottom. You can type “source:” with a colon after it. Then create a hyperlink to your actual source. If it is a book, create an interesting link associated with that book. You can be creative as long as the reader knows exactly what source you used. If it is an image, let’s type “photo credit” and then paste a hyperlink for the image.

A range: lucid, logical, sequential, includes a valuable source or resource. Well-written following rules of Standard English. 500 word range achieved in a concise and fluent manner. You also articulate well the skill you will require for your next intellectual step.

B range: there is a missing ingredient or prose contains issues of Standard English. Overall logic or sequence of ideas may need to be addressed.

C range: Length and other significant issues.

Great #PBL Step: PQP Protocol for Peer Review

peerreviewOne of the most essential parts of building a productive atmosphere for learning in any classroom is sharing what you learn. Another is giving and receiving useful feedback. The most important thing is to do this in a positive spirit. With that in mind, we must give feedback on each other’s work in a useful and kind way (remember the class motto?). So, moving forward, please be an active agent in creating a more positive and productive learning environment.

We’ll follow these these PQP steps when we comment on each other’s blog posts. To start, let’s have everyone make at least one sentence for praising the post, one sentence for poising a question about the post, and one sentence for suggesting how to polish the ideas in the overall post (which include text and complementing media). Feel free to write more than this amount. Also be mindful that a good blog post has media the complements the prose and the proper categories and tags are selected (and “uncategorized” is de-selected). Most importantly, compose your comments in Standard English. Stay positive!

Some links for more learning on the topic: http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/peer-review-narrative-122.html

Just One Way to Leverage a Classroom Twitter Account for #DoingHistory

Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 9.26.25 AMThe following image was captured from our classroom Twitter Account (https://twitter.com/caisct_pbl) and resides in our shared Google Document, which is one of the many documents in our Shared Google Drive #PBL folder. Students are working in pairs on writing original history about three Connecticut women who served in the #SignalCorps Unit during World War I. Elizabeth Cobbs recently published an amazing book telling the national story of this untold chapter in American history. It’s titled, The Hello Girls. I suggest that you order it for your school library so that students can enjoy this topic when they encounter the usual WWI topics in the typical US History Survey approach. The current World War I commemorative process rightly celebrates this forgotten episode, and our class is trying to dig a little deeper into the aspects of Connecticut history that illuminates this important story. We call these moments in our #PBL approach: #CTUntold

Many colleagues ask me how I use Google Docs in class, and I think some are afraid to ask me how I use Twitter. Here’s a great moment to explain both.

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First Draft of Tweets

There are four small groups writing history about this topic, and everyone is approaching the stage of a good rough draft. We then thought it would be good for students to see what kind of feedback they could receive from experts outside our classroom before I grade a draft. Some teachers call this a #flatclassroom (paste #flatclassroom into the search bar of any Twitter account) moment because we are using social media to reach beyond the traditional walls of a classroom for this educational and authentic connection. Here are drafts of Tweets that we are peer-editing together in class before each student Tweets it from the one classroom account. With a standard of lyric poetry and a zeal to write unwritten history, I set a high bar for a tweet in that the composer should reflect on audience and have clarity of expression as well as a specific question (inquiry drives history!) that will hopefully illicit more useful information. I have included screen shots of some of this process.

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Second Draft of Tweets

As an educator and English teacher, I find revising Tweets to be akin to collaborating on poetry. We really want to refine our communication and be sure our question is clear. The first screen shot is early in the process and students are still in the composing stage. That’s good because writing is a process. The second shot is a more revised version from our collaborative work in class. Of course, the most final draft is on the Twitter Account itself. You will see that we take a little time in the Twitter Account window that opens when one begins composing a tweet and revise there one last time! Then rubber hits the road and the real test of authentic writing occurs. Will anyone respond? Follow our work here: https://twitter.com/caisct_pbl

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26 Minutes for Response Time

PS: I drafted this post after class, and before I hit the blue publish tab, The Connecticut Historical Society answered the students 26 minutes after they Tweeted! Wow! Get thee to Twitter, fellow educators. And model appropriate use, good manners, and excellent prose.

 

 

Suffield Academy’s Presentation to Suffield Historical Society

The American Studies class presented highlights from their fifteen week investigation about the history of Suffield’s homefront during WWI at the April meeting of the Suffield Historical Society.The program was also open to the public, and attendees entered the room hearing popular songs of the era, including the 1915 hit, “I didn’t raise my boy to be a soldier” as well as the iconic rally cry written just after our entry into the war in 1917, “Over There,” by George M. Cohan. The class presented over 130 slides of information, many of which were archival materials from Suffield Academy and the Suffield Historical Society. While many in the audience knew a good deal about the evening’s topic, many of the seniors wrote in their reflective writing assignments that they “enjoyed presenting to the Historical Society because this was a topic that they were interested in and they were able to learn new things from us.” Working together as teammates in a project-based learning environment, the students engaged well with the community audience and appreciated most the question and answer period and further discussions over refreshments. Please add your reaction to comment section on this post, and the class will get back to you with a response.

Screen Shot 2018-04-22 at 9.52.40 PMMany in the class play varsity sports, and Myles leveraged that spirit and stepped up to be a captain on the spot by helping everyone focus and leading the introduction gracefully. His contributions about Connecticut culture and the role of Connecticut manufacturing elicited great dialogue after the presentation. His insights about the anti-war movement, in particular about Carl Sandburg’s contribution to the peace movement was appreciated. Later in the presentation while he was elucidating trends in propaganda posters, Ben Sylvester also explained how the two above songs served as cultural markers that showed first the country’s stance for isolationism and then the spirit to enter the war and fight “Wilson fight for democracy.” Each student also conducted family research to how many ancestors were involved in WWI, and Senior Sedley Benitz pursued research similar to her ancestors’ services, such as ambulance driving and nursing. Along with researching espionage, a topic related to his own family research, Rory Tettemer also pursued important Connecticut history topics such as the 1920s census, the 1916 election, and the sinking of the Lusitania; the closest figure to Suffield from the event turned out to be one the heroines, Theodate Pope. Chase Moran adroitly explained how partisan politics polarized Wilson’s neutrality stance throughout the early years of the war against a strident national preparedness movement. While many in town knew that Suffield Academy was called Suffield School during WWI, they learned how Suffield School was one of the first schools in the area to order uniforms for students and have experienced officers conduct military training exercise. After Michael Burch explained how Sgt. Stubby (now a motion picture), was the first war dog in the history of the American Military, he shared the campaign that he, Rory, and Chase helped launched on Twitter (#BringStubbyHome) to request from the Smithsonian that Stubby be installed during this commemoration year in a Connecticut Museum. Michael explained how much the class learned of the request protocol of the Smithsonian Museums from their thoughtful response and how the campaign enhanced our Twitter network among Connecticut historians. He then illuminated how the class discovered an unwritten Connecticut chapter of history regarding the new national history being written about the “Hello Girls,” the untold story about America’s first female soldiers who were telephone operators along the front lines organized by the Signal Corps. While Owen shared narratives regarding the manufacture history of Connecticut and the national economy during the second decade of the twentieth century, he also explained his original research regarding data about an African-American enclave in Suffield from 1900-1930s. Using Stacey Close’s thesis from the seminal work, African-Americans Connecticut Explored, the class followed Rory’s insight to delve into Suffield’s 1920 census records as Professor Close explored Simsbury’s 1920’s census records to illuminate Great Migration trends in Simsbury. Owen reported the significant results when the class tested Professor’s Close’s thesis. Since the presentation, the class hopes to publish more content on this chapter later in the month on the classroom blog. Along with explaining the complex causes of WWI as well as each significant turn at the Battle of Seicheprey, Connecticut’s finest day in WWI, Dylan Chase leveraged his past courses on presentations and digital mediums and communicated some of our most challenging topics with clarity and confidence. On his reflection prose he appreciated the experience to share our learning in an authentic setting with an audience who turned the questions period into an engaging dialogue. Dylan was a great academic ambassador during the subsequent conversations that occurred over refreshments. Dylan’s reflection prose also captured the spirit of the night as the class had not had the time because of our recent schedule to rehearse the whole presentation in one setting. “I really enjoyed the presentation and getting the chance to be a part of a class that worked so well collectively. Everything really came together last night, and I can speak for everyone when I say I’m proud of our work.”

Twitter: Research Tool, Network & Curation Opportunity

Twitter allows us to fine-tune our research skills and create an academic network that will help our class this year as well as other American Studies students who will inherit new inquiries yet utilize and build this network of historians, museums, librarians, journalists, writers, researchers, historical societies, and enthusiast who love history. And as someone who grew up learning how to appreciate cross-referencing skills and harvest great sources, key players, and important narratives at a card catalogue (of course, I’m “referencing” a 20th century library here) or in the notes and index of an amazing book, I now love to teach students how to apply the same techniques to books, internet searches, and Twitter accounts. Now let’s move forward with more research and curating. Onward #PBLResearch & #CrossReferencing!

As an educator who internalized the idea that keeping up with professional development is best practice, I constantly share with other educators that Twitter is a great place to network with other learners. What better place then to find historians who are in the process of researching and writing history as well as other educators who are scaffolding authentic projects for deeper learning! So within that big picture appreciation for Twitter in the classroom, I also think there is so much to learn from having students compose intentional and deliberate Tweets that illicit information and expand our academic network at the same time. What a challenge! Perhaps what is the most important thing about these challenges in class is that we are pushing the academic boundaries so much that we do not need to bring grades into the conversation. If your Tweet is not strong enough for this high standard, let’s all help you improve it. If it does well, meet the standard, and illicit much needed information for our authentic project as well as adds a new asset to our academic network: Huzzah!

Therefore, pause with me a little while and see how I use Twitter to slow down the learning process in a #PBL classroom. Let me summon some Whitman’s genius in section II of Song of Myself: Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems, and suggest that Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano (http://langwitches.org/blog/) and others in the #PBLChat know #PBL educators are sharing their micro steps on Twitter, and if you want to try your own version of #PBL and want suggestions or ideas from other practitioners, then get thee to Twitter, fellow educators. And model appropriate use, good manners, and excellent prose.

 

Social Media Sources “Over There” For #CTHistory!

Screen Shot 2018-04-18 at 10.31.47 PMAs we prepare for our public presentation for the April meeting of the Suffield Historical Society, we are also keeping an eye on social media sources “over there” for the upcoming events at Seicheprey. This is such an important anniversary for Connecticut History. #CTHistory! During this battle, the German army sent special stormtroopers over the top and attacked the American line here in this quiet sector to see what type of fighting force the inexperienced American were. After getting knocked out of the trenches by the Germans, the Americans successfully re-established themselves in the trenches, which began by the cooks takings meat cleavers and fighting the Germans back with hand-to-hand combat. Back in December when we read about the battle, we researched some of the men from Suffield who were in the 102nd or the Yankee Division, and we all were shocked and awed by the fact that William Habikai from Suffiled was listed in the records as being a cook!

Here is a list of social media sources that we are following to help us appreciate the significant battle of Seicheprey in real time back here in Connecticut. Do you have others to suggest? The text, When Connecticut Stopped The Hun, is available online from several libraries. If you have any suggestions, please add that content to the “comment” thread incorporated with this post.

Our #PBL class also enlisted the help of one of our French I classes to help us with researching sources on the French language landscape. They are helping us out on the “left flank” or here “in the trenches” if you appreciate how war idioms infiltrate our daily language. The latter “in the trenches” still seems to be alive and well in the modern vernacular. They will be researching and reading media and cultural materials in French for us so that we can appreciate the French dimension of this Commemoration period.

Do you have other sources to suggest we add to our list? Please comment below with a link and a few words explaining the value of the source. A #PBL thanks in advance for your contributions!

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