Capstone History Projects Showcase Student Learning
History is expansive in Jacqueline Mathey’s 8th grade classes this month as students present their research Capstone Projects on everything from “The Black Lives Matter Movement” to “The Mexican American Civil Rights Movement” to “Asian Representation in Film Through History.” This culminating activity for the year offers a showcase of all students have learned about approaching a subject with historical thinking.
Jacqueline describes the Capstone Project as “a multi-week assignment that asks students to identify significant events in the life of a person, community, or movement. The events, taken together, will tell the story of each student's research subject, and our Capstone work will finish with presentations, complete with a slide deck and a question/answer period. Capstones require students to make use of their research, note-taking, writing, editing, and presentation skills.”
For each presentation students must walk their class through the slides they have prepared and take questions at the end based on what was shared. Both the presentations and the questions asked illustrated the curiosity and thoughtful connections students have learned to practice in their study of history.
Lauren Claggett’s project focused on “how people like Gladys Bentley, Aaron Douglas, and Jessie Redmon Fauset affected the music, literature, and art during and after the Harlem Renaissance.” She said “I was trying to focus on what they specifically did to affect the time period and after the time period to see how things grew because of them.”
Lauren has been at FCS for 9 years and she said she could see how her growth over that time prepared her for a research project like this. “All of my classes have really helped me learn how to analyze things and to find things about people and information and then to expand that learning and write about it and understand it.”
Here are a few projects along with their guiding research questions that showcase the range of work these Capstone Projects represent.
How has the representation of Asian Americans in film changed since the advent of cinema?
How has Black Lives Matter affected positive social change on behalf of black people?
How did the Mexican-American Civil Rights Movement affect the lives of Mexican-Americans?
What are the lasting impacts McCarthyism has had on American society?
“Each year I am amazed both by what the students find to research and what I learn from what they share,” Jaqueline said. “We spend a lot of time talking about how to find good sources, how to evolve a research question as you go through your study, and how to present your findings in a way that makes sense to others. It’s rewarding to see what they are able to accomplish by their 8th grade year here.”