Category Archives: Project-Based Learning Scaffolding

How Can We Teach Innovation Skills?


Let’s have fun learning about this now ubiquitous App Instagram evolved, 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: 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.

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.” 

(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?


Twitter = Excellent #PBL Resource


Last year’s class discovered this excellent resource online. How can we connect with this Yale scholar and map our important local history discoveries. Should we make our own digital map of Connecticut? Can we task students with this challenge? While sharing what we learn is an important aspect to having student reach the higher levels on the Blooms Taxonomy scale, it is also a crucial step to explaining Connecticut’s complex history. As historians of Connecticut agree, there are many different enclaves and communities inside our complex state that make writing “general” history of our 17th- to present day events daunting. Thus, students writing (or “doing”) history from the local level and making connections to the state level will compose a more enriched account of our national historical tends.

What Specific Writing Skill (or Issue) Do You Want to Improve?

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 1.33.24 PM.pngI purposely selected support for this practice from an entrepreneurial site as this mindset best represents our project-based learning spirit (#PBL). So as we focus on sharing what we learned and sharing it with our audiences, let’s also be mindful that we have an opportunity to help you improve your writing skills even more before you head off to your college. Take a reflective moment and decide what priorities you want me to help you improve. Here is the source for this image, and it lends excellent suggestions for how to improve: To help you reflect on some other writing topics to consider, view this web page from a Stanford University site.  Finally, I am always impressed with the way the Owl Purdue writing center web page organizes excellent information. Again, reflecting on how two of my above sources come from writing centers, know that you should be sure that you know where your future writing center is located within the first week of steeping foot on campus!

Caribbean Slave Movement


lg_ms2_bahamasstamp                      I wanted to explore the Suffield history society, as they cover many different sides of slavery and why they came to , in general, Connecticut. I wanted to find out what was the reason slaves landed in Connecticut, who sent them, why were they sent, and what did they do once they got here. This source gives me a lot of information and I have to read through to find what I want. This is troubling, however, the lack of organization of the source does not allow me to find my answer efficiently. It is necessary that I explore this site to dig out as much as I can. Through this site I was able to find different facts about slavery in Connecticut, and the site is composed of five different sources, where there is a detailed and organized list of, towns, names, and number of slaves, has a lot of information about the reason slaves landed in Connecticut and the times and date in which they arrived. is a similar site to Slave north where it gives you a lot of information, however this site focused more on the time and dates rather than the reason they came to Connecticut. focused on a single slave and everything she went through starting from where she was born to where she died. Lastly, the Connecticut magazine talks more about numbers, and the reasons they were brought over to Connecticut. Small ideas from all these sites where taken and added to the Suffield history society website, this gives me an advantage because I can see that there are more than one authors perspectives of slavery in Connecticut situation. I visited these sources to make sure they were credible and they prove to be. The information was taken out of these five sources was information specifically regarding slavery in Connecticut. The Suffield history society wrote this article in 2003 by Douglas Harper, who is a historian, author, lecture and journalist. He began researching Northern slavery around the year 2000 during the course of general Civil War research. Quickly reading through this site has a lot of detailed information, including dates, names, and towns. According to the Suffield history society, on the eve of revolution Connecticut as a whole had the largest number of slaves in New England (6,464). Families in Hartford, New Haven, and Norwich were said to only had owned one or two slaves during this time. Later on, come to find out, most ministers, lawyers, and public officials owned slaves. Early in the 1700s the direct import of slaves to Connecticut where considered to be too few to be worth the trouble of taxing. The Connecticut citizens did not directly participate in the slave trade. Through my research I find that there is a lot of opinions about the reason to why and how slaves ended up in Connecticut, Suffield History Society is written by a certified author and has a background of history when it comes to slavery and them being in Connecticut. Not only did I makes sure the site was credible I made sure the author was too so that I know that I am getting the most accurate information possible.  Viewing the slave motion from the Caribbean would bring the presentations together so that there are different views of the trade. Though there was not a large slave movement in Bahamas there were ships carrying slaves stopping there.

Reverend Hemenway 1850s Census

Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 11.10.48 AMHere’s an image of Reverend Hemenway’s 1850s Census. As Shannon astutely noticed in the historic research at the David Ruggles center where those local history scholars (#PublicHistory, #LocalHistory) focussed on the 1850s Census because it supplies more data information about the household occupants, we went looking for Reverend Hemenway’s 1850s Census record in class the other day. We discovered his 1840s record with a few data entries and a couple of clicks; searching for his 1850s and 1860s, however, became problematic. After applying a few more strategies, such as searching for it through a census selection route first and not applying our birth dates, as they could be inaccurate, we still hit a wall and could not get the records. Then an email to our local expert on researching census records proved immediately valuable as he showed how Hemenway’s name was spelled differently in different census records. For the record” and future searches, we should keep in mind the various spelling and use Daniel Hemingway for 1850; Daniel Hemming for the 1860 and 1870 records. Below is Daniel Hemenway’s 1840s Census image. Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 9.35.04 AM

Now our class must analyze these sources in more detail. What can we learn from these two snap shots in history? What did it mean that some of Hemenway’s students came from outside of Connecticut in the 1850s data? What was the cultural ramifications for hiring and housing Irish immigrants in the 1850s in Suffield, Connecticut? Could this school be the place where fugitive slaves found refuge from the Francis Gillette House or Phineas Gabriel in Avon?

For more on Francis Gillette, visit the Connecticut Freedom Trail site:!/francis-gillette

View our previous work about Avon resident, who might have led fugitives to West Suffield, Phineas Gabriel, on other posts, click on our tagg, “Phineas Gabriel.” NB: Phineas Gabriel is also mentioned in Horatio Strother’s work, too. Click here for his work and search for Phineas Gabriel or other assets in the search box.