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/
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.
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.
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.
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
The most important issue that faces our generation today is the lack of face to face conversations. It is quite simple yet our generation suffers from screen addiction which leads us to putting our head in our phone while face to face with other people. In today’s world, you can learn so much from one face to face conversation. Personally, I pride myself in taking life lessons from face to face conversations whether it’s with my family or with the man or woman working the front desk at CVS. Although we’ve talked about this issue of screen addiction among adolescence over and over again it is an issue that cannot be addressed enough. Phones are made to be addicting each year when a new phone set to be released it being worked on there are large amounts of developers that do everything they can just so one can be addicted to their screen causing more people to buy Iphones. As the years go on the age we get addicted to cellular devices will become younger and younger. It’s important to know that although you can learn a lot in school the bigger life lessons are learnt in face to face conversation. Charles Dickens once said it best saying, “Electric communication will never be a substitute for the face of someone who with their soul encourages another person to be brave and true.” This idea of how important face to face communication has been around for centuries and will never go away no matter how advanced technology becomes.
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/
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.