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Capstone Projects from the AFT

  • Capstone Projects from the AFT

    Use these capstone projects to wrap up the school year, complete a voluntary summer learning program, or even serve as re-entry activities for the next school year—whenever that happens.

    American Federation of Teachers (AFT) members across the country are grappling to balance their search for accessible and culturally relevant teaching resources with the need to ensure students’ learning has not been stunted due to the abrupt closure of their school buildings.

    With this in mind, AFT President Randi Weingarten launched an innovative virtual initiative: Culminating Capstone Projects. With projects relevant to different grade levels, the initiative will enable students to demonstrate what they have learned in innovative, meaningful ways. Most of all, these projects help students recognize and feel good about all they know!

    These capstone projects can be utilized as an exciting way to wrap up the school year, complete a voluntary summer learning program, or even serve as re-entry activities for next school year—whenever that happens. Teachers can adapt and modify the capstone project ideas, making them unique for their classrooms. All the necessary resources have been provided (e.g., hyperlinks, activity sheets, question prompts, etc.) to make them easy to use.

    In the high school capstone projects, “Overcoming Challenges Through the Lens of Social Justice,” students select a struggle that matters to them and carry out a project that can be adapted to meet academic standards for ELA, social studies, or science and math. Students will also have a choice in the final phase to represent their learning through graphic design or media arts. Includes accommodations for English language learners, students with disabilities, and students lacking technology access.




    Overcoming Challenges Capstone Projects

    A cadre of AFT members from across the nation worked together to design standards-based, integrated content, offering capstone project ideas that are grade-level and developmentally appropriate.

    Here are the guiding/essential questions from their project ideas:

    How have heroes overcome an obstacle during their journey? Grades 9-10 ELA
    Do works by authors implicated or convicted in some sort of crime/scandal/social issue belong in the classroom? Grades 11-12 ELA
    How is an environmental issue connected with these phenomena? Grades 9-10 Math and Science
    How can we use mathematical models to explain research associated with the social justice struggle related to inheritance and variation of traits? Grades 11-12 Math and Science
    How do multiple perspectives on social issues complicate the debate? Grades 9-10 Social Studies
    How have personal struggles become national debates? Grades 11-12 Social Studies
    How do pandemics influence human relationships? Grades 9-12 ELL

    The resource also includes how to infuse art curriculum into the project. Possible art integrations include:

    Graphic design. Infographic to display data analysis from the core subjects
    Inspirational “Call to Action” poster to express a personal point of view that was formed by the research done for the Capstone project
    Media arts. Create a video essay complete with references. Record and edit a video that demonstrates a clear point of view. End with a “call to action.” What do you want the viewer to do after watching this?

    Special thanks to the AFT members and staff who developed this project.


    I’ve seen teachers really put students in the driver’s seat in the last few weeks, especially leading up to the end of semesters and quarters. At one school, students were able to film “TED talks” on a research question that is rooted in something that directly impacts them. Students then circulated these TED talks that were interrelated and had a Fireside Zoom chat to discuss what impacts them as a collective.

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How are you finding ways for students to demonstrate what they are learning during this unprecedented time in the history of schooling?

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