Looking Forward to Learning with CAIS Colleagues on 1/25/16

We were asked to share our presentations. If interested, mine follows:


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Connecting Our PD with Elevator Pitches

elias-elevator-pitch-01The Commission for Professional Development is excited to host another great Teachers Helping Teachers event. We continue to believe that our best professional development assets are among us in our schools and state. Upon reflecting on this insight and reviewing past evaluations from attendees, the commission designed a new elevator pitch format to replace for the opening remarks. This new format will allow session leaders a chance to convey what is important about their session in 60 seconds or less. This large group moment will foster more collegiality as we will begin to make personal connections to a specific educator and topic, and attendees can pass along notes to their community if the topic is outside of their daily practice. We will post the morning of the event the final Google Slide Document with all the pitches, which will in turn be a fun archive of the day’s highlights. The commission wants to thank again all the #CAISCT colleagues for presenting at this year’s conference. Email Diane Brewer or Bill Sullivan w/any questions: bsullivan@suffieldacademy.org

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#CAISCT #PBL Investigation

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CALL FOR PROPOSALS. What Works is Worth Sharing: Teachers Helping Teachers. “Plugged, Unplugged…Whatever!”

CPDLOGOIs there something you’ve done with your students that you’re really proud of? Join your CAIS colleagues on January 25th and share what you love. Some of the best professional development comes from spending a day with colleagues learning from each other – “What Works is Worth Sharing”. Participants in these programs learn about best practices, lesson plans, innovative projects, and pedagogical techniques that have had a significant impact on students and schools. Sessions may include the use of technology or not; they may encompass all sorts of important learning, such as mind, body, spirit curriculum as well as service learning. Likewise, you should also consider revisiting essential educators topics, such as assessments, homework, measuring engagement, or teaching collaborative work. Moreover, there seems to be a need among CAIS colleagues who now teach in an online grading environment to rethink common classroom practice regarding homework, quizzes, and tests. In general, we are open to you presenting a great learning moment that you feel should be shared with fellow CAIS educators. If you’d like to see what’s been presented at past programs, visit:

In a multi-year effort to concentrate our professional development offerings on 21st Century skills, the CAIS Commission on Professional Development (CPD) is seeking proposals for our next session of “Teachers Helping Teachers”.  Previous events in this series have won rave reviews from your colleagues. The program consists of Connecticut teachers hosting 45-minute sessions where they share their best ideas, lesson plans, projects, and pedagogical techniques. Presentations may also include a question and answer period. The question and answer session can evolve into a continuing dialogue and an opportunity for colleagues to network and make plans for visiting other schools to see innovative curriculum in action. Participants are able to visit several classrooms throughout the day so they can see a variety of teachers and projects. And…as a presenter you, too, will have an opportunity to attend sessions. Ultimately, this program is about “sharing excellence.”

Won’t you join us? Submit your proposal: http://www.caisct.org/2015callforproposals

To read more about the CPD’s efforts and to view timely articles from fellow educators, please check out the Commission’s Blog more.  If you’d like to become a blog poster, email Bill Sullivan, mailto:bsullivan@suffieldacademy.org  Contribute your best ideas, websites, etc. to the blog so that it will become a true collaborative working environment for all CAIS educators. Thanks and we look forward to reading about and learning from your projects!

Posted in Across the Curriculum, Collaboration Among CAIS Colleagues, Teachers Helping Teachers 2016, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Doing History in the Digital Age with CAIS Colleagues

Come Join a #CAISCT #PBL Investigation of the UGRR

Join CAIS colleagues (Grades 5-12) in a dialogue over dinner at Choate Rosemary Hall on Thursday, October 29th at 5:30pm. As in past programs for history teachers, this CAIS program wants to foster a collaboration with our friends in the Library and leverage their content curation and technology expertise. We will discuss best practices for teaching and learning skills to delve into the very compelling and complex history of Connecticut’s role in the Underground Railroad. Register today here: cais link for registering can be pasted here

  • Come share and learn best practices for effective Project-Based Learning investigations, specific assessments for the #PBL journey, presentation skills, etc.
  • Learn about and join our central blog where students will be “doing” real history, networking with local historical societies, curating relevant content, and publishing their findings. https://caisctpbl.wordpress.com
  • Dialogue about the historiography and complexity of this part of Connecticut’s history, which will further demonstrate the imperative for us to do more local history to create collectively an authentic history of nineteenth century Connecticut.
  • Appreciate Place-Based Learning and Service-Learning elements for your local communities as well as the benefits of collaborating with other CAIS students and teachers.
What's in your backyard? Explore more of this map in Horatio Strother's Underground Railroad in Connecticut

What’s in your backyard? Explore more of this map in Horatio Strother’s Underground Railroad in Connecticut

Explore and add content to our central blog, which will host primary and secondary sources to synthesize our focus, such the 1838 Charter Oak Newspaper, Horatio Strother’s seminal work, and new revelations of David Ruggles. Can your students make connections to Strother’s map on the left? https://caisctpbl.wordpress.com

Horatio Strother’s Underground Railroad in Connecticut: https://archive.org/details/undergroundrailr1962stro

See also: http://www.ctfreedomtrail.org  and http://www.ctfreedomtrail.org/trail/underground-railroad/

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edcampCAIS–Sign Up Today!

There’s still time to register for this Saturday’s edCampCAIS but don’t delay.  This is a FREE event where you and your colleagues can gather to share a vested interest in learning about learning and growing professionally. Unlike other conferences, an edcamp is considered to be an unconference because it does not include a keynote speaker — the day is planned by the attendees. If you want to share your ideas, sign up to speak. If you want to hear the ideas of others being shared, sign up to attend a session. For more detailed information about edcampCAIS, please visit the conference website at: https://edcampcais.wordpress.com/

Posted in Across the Curriculum, Best Practices for Planning CAIS Event, Collaboration Among CAIS Colleagues, edcampCAIS 2015 | Tagged | Leave a comment

An #CAISCT Invitation to Join our Sate-Wide #PBL History of Connecticut’s UGRR

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 11.16.57 AM

Join CAIS learners (teachers and students) in this Project-Based Learning investigation of Connecticut’s complex history of the Underground Railroad. While teachers will be collaborating and sharing best practices for effective project-based learning environments (rubrics, assessments, etc), students will be “doing” real history, networking with local historical societies, and publishing their findings (as well as making primary source documents digital for our blog as well as their local historical society) on our central blog.

Timeline for programs: October 29th convene history teachers and librarians; January program at the Connecticut Historical Society to experience primary source documents and have students share best practices for research and early results and breakthroughs. February program for students to share. March/April students present in their own community and share their learning steps (and ideally every presentation might have a CAIS colleague in the audience). Late April-May CAIS will sponsor a program at the State House for the “all-star” presentations.

Central Documents and sources: We will use the first edition of the 1838 Charter Oak Society (Connecticut’s Anti-slavery society) newspaper to propel students into our state-wide process of students “doing” history about the names of the abolitionist from their specific neighborhood, town or region of Connecticut. We will aim to have a December program at the Connecticut Historical Society that will feature students being able to see many of these original newspapers from the archives. In terms of continuing the trend of researching for new leads of African-American involvement in Underground Railroad history, we can begin with these two resources and then venture into other texts that will help out each town and region. Text: African American Connecticut Explored: http://ctexplored.org/book-african-american-connecticut-explored/ as well as the Connecticut Freedom Trail website: http://www.ctfreedomtrail.org

When students research society members in their region, they will make meaningful connections to 19th century UGRR history; they will likely confirm established UGRR history and more importantly uncover new leads! Students should also and we can collaborate on creating a larger and more complex history of this important institution, which was also a network for the Underground Railroad Network in Connecticut.

Who can join? This curricular goal will be appropriate for grades 5-12, as many 5th and 6th grade programs already prepare for a Civil War day in the spring and study the Underground Railroad as well as Prudence Crandall. In addition, US History classes could incorporate this PBL unit in their 19th century curriculum. Other students can research one or two specific members or their hometown’s affiliation with the Charter Oak Society as an independent study. Bill Sullivan’s American Studies class at Suffield Academy will take the lead in organizing and helping others use the central blog for our collaboration. Bill is also a member of the CAIS Commission of Professional Development. Once other classes become more involved, they are welcome to share in the editorial process; this could be a great opportunity for CAIS classroom connections via Skype, Google Hangout, etc. Our central blog address: https://caisctpbl.wordpress.com

What if I don’t know anything about Project-Based Learning? We will collaborate and co-author our findings on a central blog, which will publish student work and create a forum for questions and suggestions. We will also have CAIS programs from December to April to help with the process of historical research as well as rubrics, assessments, and activities for Project-Based Learning environments.

Why is this important? There is so much original history for our students “to do” for creating a greater understanding of the Underground Railroad’s role in Connecticut history. Most importantly, students will be unpacking 19th century Connecticut’s complex role during this turbulent time period; while Connecticut can proudly boast Prudence Crandall’s courage, we also have to keep in mind that it was her neighbors who terrorized her, her family, and her school for the radical idea to education young African-American women. Now we should have our students delve deeply into their local history to write and share a more sophisticated history of 19th century Connecticut.

PBL: we will provide rubrics and models for PBL assessments for teachers new to this student-centered approach. The fun potential will be for teachers to share their models that complement student learning on the central blog.

Intangible take-away: I have observed over the years how that this type of PBL learning where students delve into local history fosters a mature sense of place in students. Your students will develop in several dimensions when they learn new things about the history of their campus and community; seeing their everyday environment in a whole new light sows the seeds of preservation and the appreciation of their place. What could be interesting for us as CAIS educators will be to try to find ways for the students to share and explain how their findings have opened these new windows for them as community members.

Here’s the link to the first Chart Oak Newspaper, 1838. Do you know any of the names listed from your area?  Charter.Oak.Vol.1.

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