AC A D E M I C S F RO M T H E O F F I C E O F T H E C H I E F AC A D E M I C S O F F I C E R
What is the Capstone Project? In architecture, a “capstone” is the top and final piece of a structure, a crowning element that represents the character of a building. When an arch is constructed, in fact, the capstone is the center stone that holds the entire arch together. Similarly, the Capstone project at the Scheck Hillel Community School is the crowning achievement in our students’ academic career. Like an architectural capstone, it should represent the student’s intellectual character while connecting many different areas of study and interest. For this initial year of the Capstone program, the Capstone Project is intended only for students enrolled in the optional Honors section. How do students choose a topic? Going forward, students will select their Capstone Project topics in 11th grade. For this initial year, however, students are expected to select their topics and have them approved by their advisors by no later than the end of September. Topics must be articulated in a formal proposal, with a timeline for implementation, and should connect thematically to at least one of the “Big Question” units of study in the Senior Seminar: • What does it mean to make a good decision? • What will prove to be the most valuable resource of the 21st century? • What does it mean to “know” something, and how do we know what we know? (And how does my brain work, anyway?) • What does it mean to be “healthy?” • Where do I belong? • How do I measure something? • The Two Cultures: How do we bridge the gap between arts and sciences? • Understanding community: What unites us, and what divides us? • What is power, and who has it? • What effect does technology have on identity?
Gary Weisserman, Chief Academics Officer • Scheck Hillel Community School • 19000 NE 25th Avenue, North Miami Beach, FL 33180
• Futurism: what does the future hold for us? Project requirements: Each student will have two advisors on their project: a Capstone teacher (for this initial year, the instructor of the honors section) and one community member who is a professional in a field related to the topic of study. The student must select their own community advisor, following a process that will be detailed by the instructor. The community advisor must agree to the requirements set by the school. Capstone projects are year-long endeavors, and should represent the very best work the student is capable of producing. More to the point, it must either: • Meaningfully add to the body of knowledge in a specific field; or • Make a significant and measurable impact on a specific group or community. Final projects must be made publicly accessible. The project itself must have a substantial research component, as well as a substantial written component. It must stand on its own, insofar as it should be self-contained and not require any explanation to be meaningfully shared. The project must address the topic through at least three of our academic lenses: • Engineering (human ingenuity): the mastery of scientific and technological tools and the disposition to use them thoughtfully; • Knowledge building (approaches to learning): the ability and desire to make useful intellectual contributions to a learning community; • Artistic expression and appreciation (the cultivation of aesthetic sensibilities); • Civic engagement (community and service; environments): the ability and desire to address important social issues, as well as to engage in meaningful public and private discourse; • Personal development (spiritual, health and social education): the tools and sense of self necessary to spiritual, physical and personal growth. Students will use Project Management Software to track and report progress. At a minimum, monthly progress updates will be required of each student. Final products will be defended at a year-end program entitled JED: Jewish Educational Design, to be held on campus and opened to the community at large. Each student will give a formal 10 minute presentation in TED-talk format highlighting the results of their research, and answer questions on their research. Project assessment: While the focus is on a final product, students are required to keep a process/design journal that shall be counted as 20% of the final grade on the project. The format of the journal will be determined by each advisor, but must be publicly accessible.
10% of the project’s final grade will be based on the year-end presentation. 20% of the project’s final grade will be based on interval assessments, including monthly updates. The remaining 50% of the project’s final grade will be based on the project itself, including its written and research components. Following formal submission and presentation of the Capstone project, advisors will give written feedback to their students, including any required revisions. Students will have until June 10 to make revisions, following which advisors will assign one of the following assessments to their Capstone project: • • • •
Did not meet requirements Met all requirements Outstanding performance Superior performance
Students’ transcripts will be marked appropriately based on their level of achievement.