Author Archives: bsullivan35

About bsullivan35

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

Let’s Realize & Learn More About Divergent Thinking!

Do you see how one thing these two thinkers have in common about explaining divergent thinking involves school? With that in mind, let’s leave behind your school brain and enjoy this moment to foster a new cognitive skill that helps with creative problem solving. So we will add another step of divergent thinking so that you might incorporate this cognitive awareness and develop a creative disposition more deeply in your thinking. In other words, how can you apply this learning to our work in our #PBL classroom? Interestingly, this type of thinking may help you navigate your future challenges in your college courses and future careers.

For homework, have fun viewing both videos. Then create a paragraph (7-10 sentences) and reflect on one of these thinkers (or both) and locate a specific moment in a movie, show (your favorite Netflix series), book, or drama where a character exhibits divergent thinking. Composing thoughtful sentences of Standard English, explain briefly the character’s personality and situation in the work and explicate how this one specific scene captures this “out of the blue” (Claxton) thinking that enables the character to move forward with this new idea, new thought process, or new mindset. This is an opinion-based prompt that simply requires you to support your claim with support from your selected text. By all means include any links in your final submission to Schoology if they will help the general reader.

How Can We Learn Entrepreneurial Skills?

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https://www.npr.org/player/embed/562887933/563105739

Let’s have fun learning about how the founders of this now ubiquitous App Instagram developed this Billion dollar model, and then we will examine how we can adopt elements of their success story as we begin our first steps in our own project-based learning journey. So how can we use this Instagram’s story to teach the dynamic disposition and positive attitude a student needs to cultivate in a project-based learning classroom?

It is very fascinating to hear the early iterations of Instagram (see more here: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/07/instagram-used-to-be-called-brbn/373815/) and then realize all the changes they made to make the app what it is as a working app today. That process that is narrated here is design thinking, which is a process we will explore more this year. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Design-based_learning

Perhaps an important moment in their start-up was when they followed the advice to ask their users about what they enjoyed about their app rather than investing time into wondering what others who are not using the app would want. What did they learn from this part of the process?

(Podcast Time: 6:30) Isn’t it fascinating that the best thing for any entrepreneurial is failure? The founders of Instagram cite Eric Ries and his ideas about the process of a lean startup. “Don’t ask why people don’t use your startup. Ask why people who continue to use your start up use your startup.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lean_startup 

(Podcast Time: 8:00) One of the founders tells a story of being burnt out and going on a break. Does he really take a break? Why type of thinking does he do on this “break” and how does it help the next iteration of the product of Instagram?

(Podcast Time: 9:00) Style topic. Did you notice how the music delivers a great downbeat when the divergent thinking that one of the founders has when his then girlfriend and now wife provides an insight while walking on the beach?

(Podcast Time 12:00) Just appreciate this moment. No response necessary. This is my hook for our audience!. “It was trial by fire; so many chances to fail. Kept working; all nighters. The amount we learned in that first year was crazy. It was fives years of college in one.” I would make this the hook because I’m an educator, and the producer here chose a more entertaining hook.

(Podcast Time: 17:30) There is a great conversation about how the story of success is never linear. It’s always dynamic, an up-and-down journey. Reflect on this moment and also reflect on how the founders keep their eye on the experience of the user. Do you have a personal success story that was not linear and had several “false starts” along the way before you achieve a degree of success? Write a 3-6 sentences here about that experience. We’ll share these moments in class and expand more on them.

(Podcast Time: 23:00) Around minute 23 they discuss the currency that feeds an entrepreneur. Explain in your own words this experience and its value. Then reflect on our course description and explain what experience will make our experience valuable.

(Podcast Time: 24:00) They reveal another great moment where they learned a lot through failure. This moment had to do with a mistake. What was the mistake? Could the mistake been avoidable? What else did they learn about the relationship they had with her users?

What do you think of the founders’ thesis about luck and talent? What role do resilience, grit, and optimism play in capitalizing on luck?

Many people define a person’s mindset as an established set of attitudes, what did you learn about the mindset of these innovators? Does it help you realize your own mindset(s)?

Exploring Other Project-Based Learning Models

What is project-based learning? Let’s start by celebrating this diagram that will explain our instructional goals during this creative and meaningful learning process. So read this article carefully and bring questions about it to class. Moving forward we will keep these points in mind and discuss how best to help each learner design a project. Also appreciate that the iterative and collaborative process that we use in class will better help you internalize confidence in the complicated and messy process of collaboration and authentic learning. The other instructional goal is that you transfer these skills into your college courses and future careers.

Now let’s have everyone research other project-based learning classes and classroom and find two great models. Your first model with be the best #PBL model; explain how you appreciate something related to the iterative or collaborative process that the class used and demonstrated. The second model will be something related to what you think is an important topic for your generation to explore. In other words, you will appreciate the disciplinary aspects of this #PBL model. In the comment thread below, please compose a thoughtful annotation in 3-5 sentences using Standard English for each internet link for your two models.

Join Our Journey to Discover Best Practices for Public History

What public history skills do historians employ to create and celebrate a meaningful sense of place in any community? What part of our past should be showcased today? What are the best practices associated with the process of making effective public history that will best engage community members? Bill Sullivan’s American Studies class will delve into historical topics relevant to the town’s 350th anniversary and share what they learned from this sustained inquiry during the April meeting of the Suffield Historical Society. They will study topics and design public history projects that will hopefully benefit the town’s process of commemorating this significant anniversary year.

#CAISCT students and teachers should establish a line of local history inquiry and join the process of learning these best practices for public history in their own community. #CAISCT students and teachers can share best practices for public history and #PBL on this collaborative blog. #CAISCT teachers should feel comfortable brainstorming topics based on other years of #PBL inquiry on this blog and ask Bill Sullivan further questions about Connecticut history, great historical societies that can assist your student learning, and archival resources that will be beneficial for research. The following driving questions about public history may start great conversations about possible lines of inquiries for the following topics:

  • 1774 Census: who are these enslaved colonials in your community’s census? Could your community curate the time and place of these enslaved Africans lives with help from the Witness Stones project? 1774 is also a remarkable year in American Colonial history as so many were thinking of freedom. Your town records will also animate this discussion of freedom as among so many entries of borders, roads, and prosaic community projects, a history student will observe how suddenly meetings for “resolves” appear. Amidst this landscape, you should also appreciate the narrative of Mum Bett in southwestern Massachusetts. https://caisctpbl.wordpress.com/the-spirit-of-1774/
  • 29th Regiment: who enlisted from your town? What is each story behind every name? https://ct29thcv.wordpress.com/join-this-project-today/
  • Women’s history: Do you have any women who you could nominate for the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame? https://caisctpbl.wordpress.com/womens-history/

Black Codes: 1731 Document from Suffield Town Records

Suffield Academy’s American Studies class learned from Hezekiah Spencer Sheldon’s May 1885 Windsor Locks Journal article that colonial Africans were buried in the northwest corner of Suffield’s first churchyard, which is the Old Center Cemetery. While trying to learn why colonial Africans were buried in the northwest corner, the class found the following vote in Suffield’s Town Record Book.

Many towns in the Connecticut River Valley had similar practices for colonial Africans. Do you know of any other records that shed light on this colonial custom in Suffield? Please connect with the display case’s blog: http://amielpzakdisplay.wordpress.com and create a comment.

In the recently published African American Connecticut Explored, which is a collection of essays, Tamara Verrett’s essay explains the origins of the Talcott Church in Hartford. African Americans in the early nineteenth century were tired of sitting in galleries and began gathering on their own in the conference room of the First Church of Christ, now Center Church in Hartford. From these meetings emerged the Talcott Church, the first African American Church in Hartford.

Below is an image of the Suffield’s Town Record Book entry for May 17th, 1731. This is a transcription of the 12th entry:

12th. Voted, to allow ye [the] masters of negroes, and free negroes, a liberty to, for them to make a seat for s [said] Negroes at ye [the] Norwest corner of ye [the] Meeting House, upon ye beams.

May.1731.Town.Rec

Can you Decipher the Last Word at the End of the December 23 Entry?

Please click on the comment thread and offer any suggestions or insights on transcribing the December 23rd line entry. Bob Romer’s Slavery in the Connecticut Valley of Massachusetts as well as Joseph Carvalho’s Black Families in Hampden County, Massachusetts 1650-1865, 2nd Edition both capture a moment in Reverend Ballantine’s Journal when he describes in February of 1767 Sylvia’s “bitter aversion” to a possible negotiation for sale from the Gay family. Interestingly, Reverend Ballantine, fellow minister from Westfield, was a rare example of a Connecticut Valley minister who did not own slaves. Nevertheless, he did have Sylvia in his home as Reverend Ebenezer Gay lent her out to the Ballantine family. Sylvia also sought refuge with the Ballantine family on a previous occasion in November 8, 1763.

Eben.Gay.1767.Almanac
IMG_1355 - Version 3

We are fortunate to have Reverend Ebenezer Gay’s Almanac for the year 1767. The almanac does not mention Sylvia in the month of February, but the entry for December 23rd does have Sylvia’s name on it. Thus, the two journal entries of Ballantine and Gay do cross-reference for the 23rd of December. Nevertheless, the last word after Sylvia’s name is hard to decipher. Can you read the last word after her name? Please click on the comment thread and offer any suggestions or insights for that word and the whole line. Feel free to comment on the absence of Sylvia from the February entries as well.

Launching #PBL Podcast: Modeling Skills & Appreciating PD Down the Hall

My #StudentCenteredPBL project-based learning Students are creating individual podcasts, and producing a podcast from scratch does require brainstorming, drafting, reflecting, revising, and finally follow through with the technology steps in order to finish the audio project in GarageBand or similar software. The following conversation captured in our Beta podcast has been ongoing here at our school because we know that the best professional development is down the hall. Breaking into small professional learning communities (#PLC), my colleagues and I have been working on a whole range of PD topics. I am fortunate to work with others who want to learn more about being facilitators of great #PBL. Our #PBL group have been utilizing a recent publication that distills the robust elements of this program. Click here to read it on the PDK International webpage. I have been able to use this article to share the methods that I am learning more carefully because I am currently enrolled in the certificate program. In this podcast Beth and I are discussing the four goals outlined by the University of Pennsylvania GSE Project-Based Learning program. While we are discussing a launch of a project, our conversation refers to the four aspects of learning that should occur in order to scaffold consistently deeper learning opportunities. This great conversation also evolved into a great model for my students who are working on their own podcast. Stay tuned for those projects. Click here to learn more about the #PennPBL certificate program: https://www.gse.upenn.edu/tll/pblc

Big shout out to the website: incompetech.com. I featured the following music, “Hard Boiled,” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/