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Capstone Project Hmm?/?/

As we in BC are starting to think about or actually are implementing the new curriculum in grades 11 &12, I am wondering how everyone will find a way to complete the capstone project portion of CLC. Really I am curious how this is going and what steps have been taken to begin this implementation.

So my first thought was to think what is the capstone anyway. Well according to the curriculum guide:

A capstone project, also known as a culminating project or experience, or senior exhibition, among other terms, is a project that allows students to demonstrate their learning using an area(s) of interest as the basis for the project. Ideally, this would be in an area that they are passionate about and anticipate they will be pursuing after graduation.

Wow this seems big... Are we, as schools, ready for this? Are our teachers ready? Who is responsible for this program at the school level? Have we laid the ground work to get here? Hmm. I am really thinking now..

Now my brain is really going to the thoughts of what would I do for a capstone. How would I demonstrate my learning using an area of interest as the basis of my project? This is big.. It seems daunting to me. So again I look back at the guide for more clarification.

Students will design, assemble, and present a capstone project to an audience to demonstrate personal learning and achievement (in and out-of-school), growth in the core competencies, and a reflection on the post-graduation plan.

So we are showing the personal growth of our core competencies through our project based on an area of interest. Yes, this can be done but it will take many people to invest in the change: teachers, administration, parents, community and mentors.

Now as I think about this program change, I realize many of my class's big project can fit this criteria. I remember the day a student came to me with a video of a balloon launched to space by a group in California. He followed it up with the question I love... Could we do this? Yes we can try. OK we have an area of interest here. The student needed to formulate a team to attempt this. He found students and 4 teachers to help. But none of us had ever done this before so we all started researching what we would need to know, do, design, learn and get help with. It was a big idea and would need so much collaboration among everyone. We needed:

  • to figure out how to a package to space and back

  • design a payload and parachute

  • source out weather balloons and helium

  • develop an understanding of the winds and air space and aviation rules and HAM radio rules

  • do many trials

  • figure out how what knowledge we wanted from the launch (science experiments)

  • find people with the knowledge base to help us

  • find the money needed

It was a daunting task but the students divided into teams: payload development, radio control group, scientific data group, communications and grant writing team. So this became a great cross curricular project that was all inclusive.project. Almost every interest area could be covered here. The writers, artist, mechanical, technical, hands-on, and experimental learners were involved. This group covered all learners and learning styles so everyone could find success here. And it worked and they produced this video.

So now I ask would this cover our core competencies as well as many aspects of our curricular competencies.

The communication competency encompasses the set of abilities that students use to impart and exchange information, experiences and ideas, to explore the world around them, and to understand and effectively engage in the use of digital media. This aspect was covered with the many group discussions, mentor calls, media presenting and the overall video. Yes they can communicated the learning quite well.

The thinking competency encompasses the knowledge, skills and processes we associate with intellectual development. It is through their competency as thinkers that students take subject-specific concepts and content and transform them into a new understanding. Thinking competence includes specific thinking skills as well as habits of mind, and metacognitive awareness. Thinking oh yes they were thinking in creative and critical ways. They needed to create everything from scratch for our payload and experiments. The subject specific knowledge was gained for all aspects but we needed to apply it in new and adventurous ways. There were many version of everything used and still more variations for the next years launch.

Personal and social competency is the set of abilities that relate to students' identity in the world, both as individuals and as members of their community and society. Personal and social competency encompasses the abilities students need to thrive as individuals, to understand and care about themselves and others, and to find and achieve their purposes in the world. Our students were able to have personal awareness and responsibility as they each took on portions of the project that were needed for the whole to be completed. Students needed to have empathy and understanding of each other and our individual greatness so that we could work as a big group. It was a great learning experience personally for each and everyone of them.

So now I am pretty confident that there are many examples of my students projects that would cover the criteria for a capstone. So yes it is doable and we can take this step together.

Just remember it is about the journey and not just the destination.

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