Category Archives: Project-Based Learning Scaffolding

Places Where Enslaved People Lived in My Hometown

Van Cortlandt Mansion

Coloniel Slavery in the Northen Colonies was an important occurence . Slavery was every where whether we knew it or not.An important story of slavery was in my neighborhood. Van Cortlandt Park, which is about 15 min away from where I live in Riverdale. The Riverdale Press, and Manhattan College and many others decided to go deeper in the slavery that occured in this period. There is a book even written called Blacks in Colonial Bronx. One example was in 1698 when a man named Antone was freed. He also had a wife and there three sons. This family was the first ever to freed in the Bronx. However slavery didnt end until 1827. There was a lot going on throughout those 200 years of Colonial History in the Bronx.

Slavery in Van Cortlandt started in October 1749 when a man named Fredrick Van Cortlandt signed the deed of the “plantation”, which was said to be a large dwelling house to bring the locals. The estate that he bought included six slaves. Later that year his will shows eleven or 12 slaves 6 men and 5 women. One of the female names is Hester, which is listed twice on the will, we aren’t sure as researchers weather or not that was a mistake or if it actually is two different people. Another slave was named Leville who was a boatman. There was also Piero a miller and married to one of the Hesters had a child named Little Pieter. There was Caesar. This was just some names of the slaves in the Van Cortlandt House at this time.


No one really knows about Salem Poor

Salem Poor Biography at Black History Now - Black Heritage ...
This is Salem Poor in a picture and what he might have looked like.
Salem Poor - Wikipedia
This is Salem Poor on a U.S. Stamp.

Salem poor is from my hometown Andover Mass, and it seems no one really knows about him around the town from what I have seen on the internet and in the Andover Townsman. Salem Poor lived in Andover and was owned by John Poor. Then when the revolutionary war came around, John Poor had already released Salem and they had a pretty good relationship, Salem decided to enlist. He enlisted in 1774 and was immediately thrown into the fight. He ended up being in Boston for most of his service, and he is best remembered for what he did at the Battle of Bunker Hill, where he was credited with killing the British Lieutenant James Abercrombie. I don’t think enough people really know about Salem Poor and I want to change that.  

Joe Gebbia, Entreprenereal Mastermind #PBL

Joe Gebbia, 2017 VOICE, BoF’s Annual gathering

Joe Gebbia founder and CEO of AirBnB has shown great resilience throughout the entrepreneurial process, his seemingly “crazy” idea was presented to 100s of investors and turned down by all, yet today AirBnB is a common app and system we all use. Joe Gebbia has made an idea into a way of living thorough the world, it is no longer odd to pay to stay in someone’s bedroom in Key West Florida for a few nights. Joe Gebbia has built an entire lifestyle and company of the idea of staying at another person’s house.

A Few Questions….

  1. How and why do investors trust such a “crazy” idea such as AirBnB was?
  2. How do you go against the judgement of people who you know are smarter than you and more established in the world of business and marketing?
  3. How did you know when to succumb to failure and realize when an idea was not working?
  4. What type of strengths do you need to be an entrepreneur?
  5. How do you act out of being uncomfortable in a situation environment?

How Can Perry Chen’s Story Kickstart #PBL?

The host of How I Built This Podcast series, Guy Raz.

On Dec. 31st 2018, Guy Raz released an interview with Perry Chen, the co-founder of Kickstarter. Kickstarter is an online fundraising platform for people to donate to projects that they like. Kickstarter became popular soon after the release. The interview with Perry Chen revealed the story behind the founding of Kickstarter.

NXNEi - Day 2 - Perry Chen,
Perry Chen, cofounder of Kickstarter.

Fifteen years ago, Perry Chen had no idea that he would start a technology company. He was a musician who liked to go to music festivals, and it was at such an event when the idea of Kickstarter came into his mind: “why can’t people get funded for their projects from people who support them?” While he hesitated to stick to this idea at first, he restarted his idea when he moved to New York and introduced this insight to people he met there. Sharing new iterations of his idea with different thinkers in New York helped him even further. While he had no network for funding or financial support, he began to think of ways to create and run the product. Finally, he found his two co-founders who kickstarted the innovation of Kickstarter. He was not afraid of the unknown, and he was willing to learn the required technology to build his service. He was a patient learner, and it took them three years for to develop the product. As Kickstarted gradually got popular, Perry Chen and his team continued to reflect and incorporate feedback into improved iterations. Perry Chen then shared his story about how he decided to strengthen the review process for some prototypes because he saw that companies were using the platform to sell their product instead of fundraising. 

Four goals for Project based learning.
  1. How did Perry Chen started to come up with the idea of Kickstarter? Did Perry Chen immediately put his idea into action? What made him hesitated to start his idea? What does he think he is lacking before he moved to New York? (7:00)
  2. When did the idea come back to him? What is the major reason that Perry cannot pursue his idea in New Orleans? What did it show that is important in starting a new idea that a person do not know a lot about? 
  3. Why did the three cofounders persistently work for three years? Why did they like the idea and continued to collaborate on working on the project for so long? Does it show the collaborative value of the group? (16:50)
  4. Why decision did Perry makes towards some companies that make gadgets and prototypes of their new product and use the platform as a selling platform. How do you think it shows the iterative process in this decision? (29:00)
  5. Overall, did the interview of Perry Chen show the four goals of Project-based learning? Give some examples and explain how it helps you in Project-Based Learning?

The definition of an innovative thinker (James Dyson, PBL)

An innovative person does not need to be wealthy; instead, an innovative person is someone who thinks and behave differently from other people. Many innovative people’s projects start with limited or no support from the people around them, but eventually, they will surprise everyone with what they have accomplished. James Dyson, the founder of Dyson, is one of the innovative people. Two of the critical values from his podcast is about resistance and mistakes. When James Dyson starts to create the first generation of the Dyson Vacuum, people think he is crazy because big companies already dominate the market. However, James Dyson does not give up on his project even he has to borrow money to sustain his life. The second value that shows James Dyson is an innovative thinker is how he reflects himself after he makes a mistake. He says that making mistakes is not the end of world; instead it is a great chance to learn from the mistake and improve. Being able to reflect and revise on the mistakes will bring the project into a higher level.

Questions about the podcast

(Time 8:00-9:00)

It is mentioned that after finishing the design, James’s boss also asks James Dyson to do the selling process, a new field for James Dyson. Why is this important for his future startup of his own brand

(Time 18:00-19:00)

As people around him thinks he is stupid to compete with those giant vacuum cleaner companies, what opportunity does James sees that insists him to develop his own vacuum cleaner?

(Time 19:00-20:00)

Why James thinks that being kicked out from his own company is a great thing? And what is the biggest problem he is facing after being kicked out form his own company.

(Time 21:00)

At the start of James’s company, he has to borrow money to support his project. However, these cannot stop him from working on his vacuum cleaner. What is an important characteristic of a good entrepreneur that can be found on his? And how this characteristic will help you in your project base learning?

(Time 37:00-38:00)

When he talks about mistakes, why dose he mention that mistakes are great?

(Time 38:00-40:00)

James Dyson has grown from someone who owns nothing into a billionaire. What separates him from the people around him?

How Can The Story of Spanx Help The World of #PBL?

My selection of the Spanx podcast as the best podcast demonstrates innovative thinking because it shows collaboration of ideas, disciple, authenticity, and creativity.  Sara, the founder of Spanx, is triggered with an idea after seeing a flaw in pantyhose, and changing them to become what is now known as spanx.  She created an authentic product, since it was original and had been all based off of her findings.  In class today, Jason discussed the growth of his company, and how it started as something average, and due to his success, he was able to use his revenue to improve his product.  This shows success, and how he may have started at an average level, but had a basic platform to work off of, and create the more advanced website that we saw in class today.  This can be compared to the story of spanx, because after seeing the potential she had, Sara worked to perfect her product, using the small income she made from her initial sales.  One of my questions asked about trial and error, and this can relate to Jason’s process as well, since every innovator experiences trial and error.  Trial and error allows for the innovator to improve something, and approach it in a different manor than they initially did. 

Image result for guy raz and sara from spanx
  • It is human nature to ask other people for approval, but what does Sara do instead of asking people their opinions on her idea?  How does this benefit her?
  • What stimulated the idea of Spanx?  How did Sara discover her invention?
  • Why is it useful that Sara kept a log of her ideas that could become something one day?
  • Why is trial and error important, and how does it ignite innovative thinking?
  • What is a story of an act of kindness Sara experienced?  How does this change her point of view of her business approach?

My Questions:

How Can We Learn Entrepreneurial Skills?


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: 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 use 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?

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.
  • 29th Regiment: who enlisted from your town? What is each story behind every name?
  • Women’s history: Do you have any women who you could nominate for the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame?

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: 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.