Author Archives: bsullivan35

About bsullivan35

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

Can you please help up understand the value of this gift?

Our schools’ two piece high chest left; on the right high chest attributed to Eliphalet Chapin, East Windsor, Connecticut, 1771–1795

The class began wondering about the value of this antique gift that resides in our school’s beautiful Cone Lounge. (See more in our slides here.) Our athletes sign commitment letters to their future schools there. Other students have met there because they are part of clubs who have a special event there or perhaps they observed a special Passover Seder ritual feast there. One of the intriguing goals for the class was to find out more about this piece of antique furniture that stands between the two doors of Cone Lounge. Another dimension of our inquiry became the project to write about the social history fo our community asset that is in plain sight. Some call this hidden history; for project-based learning classes, this type of public history is an authentic way to spread the learning outside the classroom walls, and writing and sharing to our community will help students leave a more meaningful footprint of learning behind. In order to appreciate the value of these high chests in colonial culture, the class read Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s “Furniture as Social History: Gender, Property, and Memory in the Decorative Arts.” We also enjoyed reading (great reading quiz scores) Laurie Halse Anderson’s Chains; Chapters 4-5 animate the cultural context of such a high chest. Along with appreciating the value and roles these cultural artifacts played in colonial culture, the opening chapters also answered many great student questions. As we were coming to terms with researching colonial slavery and making new discoveries about the lives of slaves in our historic homes on main street, students pondered deeply the dynamic among slaves and slave owners. What was slavery really like here? How did New England owners keep slaves from running away? What were the conditions of indentured servants? Imagining the fears associated with running away in colonial times did help us imagine a world of colonial paths which when we stripped away highways, railroads, and canals, only had wagon ruts and horse traffic added to the distinctions that served when they were Native American trails. We read chapters in the seminal text for Connecticut History, Complicity, and learned about the violence whims the owners of Venture Smith and his wife’s owners had on their lives. Now as we prepare for our upcoming community presentation on April 23rd, we want to learn who made this piece of furniture and try to explain the context in which Dorothy Fuller Bissell (class of 1916) made this gift. Can you please help? Feel comfortable connecting with us on the class Twitter account: https://twitter.com/caisct_pbl or just by commenting on this post. Thanks!

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#Screenagers: Hosting a Community #PBL Event

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Follow us on Instagram to learn how to live a positive and balanced life with social media

This project-based learning class began their journey with the challenge to identify and understand the most pressing issues for their generation. This is a truly student-centered approach, and I have not found many other examples of this type of ground zero for #PBL. So if you know of classroom online, please let us know. After researching and writing upon these topics, some of which are teen mental health issues, ocean pollution, e-waste, hidden poverty, and automation, the students curated their learning on our classroom blog. Then the group was challenged to create a community project where they would be able to share their learning and show how they learned it. With this #PBL mantra in mind, the class navigated towards the compelling documentary Screenagers. We then researched the movie and conference called the office before we brainstormed the idea to partner with our freshmen leadership colleagues. The students are now in the exciting and challenging stages of preparing curriculum for this community program. Follow our progress on Twitter: https://twitter.com/caisct_pbl and Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/caisct_pbl/

Appreciate the #PBL Iterative Process via Classroom Twitter Account

Source: https://www.teachthought.com/technology/establishing-a-twitter-routine-in-the-classroom/

One of my many takeaways from #PennPBL last summer was that reflection is a key component to the cycles of production in a #PBL classroom. Recently, I realize that celebrating the iterative process more deliberately creates a better scaffold for our #PBL learning and sets up a better path for even more reflection; in other words, when we take time to have students show what they learned during the process of learning, then we track their learning and provide them at the end a more productive reflective process as they can more efficiently review the tacks of their learning.

Now I think modeling a Twitter account for positive reasons is more relevant than ever today than a few years ago! The image below was created by the Langwitches back in the old days of 2012. That said, I thought I would utilize that classic image of the open road journey to celebrate how our Twitter routine could shed more light on the iterative process. I am also in the process of learning more about how other thought leaders, such as Laura Tierney form The Social Institute, who are rewriting the appropriate use guides and creating positive “To Do(s)” in terms of how students should use social media. So I am even more excited about what a classroom Twitter account can provide for student learning.

Here are some tweets that connect with mid-winter learning that I shared during an iteration focus among my #PennPBL classmates. https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

What Can a TED Talk Do for a Young Person’s Idea?

Our #StudentCentered #PBL class was unpacking the complex topic of Ocean Pollution, and towards the close of academic period, the class came to a consensus that we should view this TED Talk as part of our homework. That conversation was interesting and fun because Boyan’s talk here was recorded when he was a teenager in high school. Let’s have everyone view this tonight and make a brief comment (2-3 sentences) in Standard English. What about this TED Talk do you find inspiring? Or write a comment about the specific moment where you feel that Boyan relates to his audience with words or images or both. Check out the email folder for other written homework.

#PBL Challenge for Today’s Class

We made great progress on the 19th century newspaper article regarding the local 18th and 19th century slaves from Suffield’s history. Now we need to curate our information, create a driving question, and acknowledge the skills required for more learning. So, let’s create four groups. You can decide the make-up of the groups. Once you gather, decide what labor is required and then divide the tasks evenly. Let’s publish the post and tweets by the end of class.

Goal: can we achieve the productive “hum” that we met on Saturday? https://twitter.com/caisct_pbl/status/1081261701994082305

  • One group to finish as best they can the transcription.  
  • One group to create a blog post explaining what we have in this document as well as what we want to learn. This can be one large or two small paragraphs.  See the criteria for making a blog post in our Google Drive folder.
  • Twitter research team: who in our academic network can help with this question? Who else outside our academic Twitter network can help?
  • Compose sophisticated tweets with crystalized prose; the prose should be in a form of a question and add hashtags that tap into content areas as well as skills (such as #PBL for project-based learning).

Day Two: Challenge Extended. While we achieved our “Productive Hum” yesterday in class, we did not complete the task. There are several reasons for that; our work is complex and collaboration is challenging. That said, let’s continue with the missing parts of the above goal and add a new challenge because completing the work above does not require all fourteen team members. New challenge will be to find our more history about the woman who ran the Austin Tavern, which was a famous colonial destination. You will now read legacy work about George Washington and John Adams’ visits there. In Lea’s post: https://caisctpbl.wordpress.com/2017/01/30/john-adams-a-complex-reporter/

And Jackson’s post: https://caisctpbl.wordpress.com/2017/02/28/george-washington-and-his-affect-in-suffield/ https://caisctpbl.wordpress.com/2017/02/28/george-washington-and-his-affect-in-suffield/

Driving question: What should be Mary Seymour Austin’s record in Suffield’s history? https://founders.archives.gov/?q=suffield%20Author%3A%22Austin%2C%20Mary%20Seymour%22&s=1511311111&r=1

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 important ingredient is giving and receiving useful feedback. The most important part of the process is to do this in a positive spirit. With all of 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

How Can We Teach & Learn Innovation Skills?

how-I-built-this.jpghttps://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 sue 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)?