Category Archives: Project-Based Learning Assessment

#Screenagers: Hosting a Community #PBL Event

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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/

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)?

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.

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.

 

Suffield Academy Students Present: WWI Homefront

Screen Shot 2018-04-22 at 9.52.40 PMWhen the American Studies class began its investigation in December with a trip to the Suffield Academy archives, students were very curious to find young students one hundred years ago were wearing military uniforms. After researching our local and national history, the students are ready to share insights about the preparedness movement in Suffield, the region, and nationwide to help explain how Suffield School (now Suffield Academy) was one of the first schools in the area to start such a military prep program that provided students military uniforms and training. While following the research methods of Connecticut Historian, Stacey K. Close, the American Studies students used his chapter in African American Connecticut Explored as a model to look for patterns of the Great Migration here in Suffield. Close’s chapter, titled “Black Southern Migration and the Transformation of Connecticut, 1917-1941,” centers around migration trends in Simsbury. Please join us to learn how the American Studies students discovered similar patterns in Suffield. The class will present during the Suffield Historical Society meeting, which is open to the public, on Tuesday night, April 24th, 7-8pm at the Suffield Senior Center on 145 Bridge St, Suffield, Ct. Finally, like everyone in Connecticut who is excited to learn about the story of Sargent Stubby and see the newly released film, Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero, find out about four of the WWI veterans from Suffield who served in the famous 102nd of the Yankee Division, alongside “Stubby,” the first service or therapy dog. For more on the movie that was just released, click here: http://www.stubbymovie.com/

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