The Senior Capstone program is an opportunity for students to explore an interest or passion in a manner that allows for deeper meaning or understanding that might not otherwise be permitted in a traditional classroom setting. The spirit is to encourage a self-directed curriculum that is empowering and fosters inquiry and intellectual risk.
All MVRHS seniors are encouraged to consider and apply for a Capstone project. Taking place during the second semester of their senior year, a Capstone is the culmination of what they have learned throughout their life as a student, applied toward a project of their choosing. It embodies the core values and expectations of MVRHS. A Capstone project offers them an opportunity to investigate a real-world challenge, perhaps similar to what they will encounter after high school, in college or in your career, or perhaps something they’ve wanted to do, but never had the time to do before.
The Senior Capstone program offers students the support, guidance and advice of a team of faculty and experts. There are three required components of every Capstone project: a digital journal/portfolio, a research paper, and a formal presentation before a panel of judges. Meeting the deadlines outlined below is critically important to succeed in all three areas. To allow for time necessary to complete the project, they must have at least three periods open on their schedule.
A senior would need to conceive of an original project that bears some educational significance to him or her. The student would then need to choose two mentors (see details below).
Each student will meet with Assistant Principal Elliott Bennett at the start of the Project to discuss the student’s plan. The student would agree to specific timelines for mentor meetings, project meetings, and periodic review of the project components listed below.
In order to be enrolled in the Senior Capstone program, students must first submit a proposal. The proposal will be reviewed by Capstone faculty. Students will receive a response within a week. Accepted proposals should show evidence that the project is original, feasible, and allows for significant personal and intellectual growth. Often, proposals are sent back to students for revision or clarification before acceptance.
Senior Capstones are graded on a PASS/FAIL basis. To pass, students must successfully complete three required components. Panelists score the rubric and submit all materials to the Assistant Principal for final review.
1) RESEARCH PAPER:
All Capstone projects include a research paper. The paper poses a significant question that is addressed through both secondary research and through their field work. It is written for a specified audience and is often submitted for publication. There will be components of the project the student had little or no background knowledge; therefore the student will need to research the appropriate method, facts or procedures. An audience-appropriate style guide (MLA, APA, or Chicago) must be followed. The Research Paper Rubric Guide is here.
2) JOURNAL: The journal documents the student’s experience, new knowledge, dates and times, and daily or weekly reflections. The student keeps track of the progress, or lack thereof, and must have a minimum of one entry per week. The entries will serve as a record of the student’s time. It will also serve as a source for the evaluators to read about the student’s most immediate and reflective thinking. The Journal Rubric Guide is here.
The student must orally present his or her project to an audience, consisting of a panel comprised of school personnel and community members. The presentation must cover the scope of the project and last a minimum of twenty minutes. Each presentation will be accompanied by some form of visuals. These might include the project itself, video footage, photographs, posters or some other form of electronic presentation. At the conclusion of the presentation, the student will field questions from the panel and/or audience. The Question & Answer component will take no longer than 15 minutes. The student will be assessed on the depth and breadth of his or her responses. The Presentation Rubric Guide is here.
Students must choose two adult mentors. The first, “inside mentor” should be a faculty member who is available to meet periodically at MVRHS. The second, “outside mentor” should be someone who is 1) and expert in a related field of study to the student’s project, and 2) available to meet periodically, either in person or online. In addition, a Senior Capstone faculty member will be assigned to their project.
Students should work out a schedule of meetings with both mentors. These meetings are essential to sustaining progress. Students should plan to meet at least four times per month (or twice per month with each mentor). Each student meets with Capstone faculty at the start of the Project to discuss their plan, including a timeline for mentor meetings, project meetings, and periodic review of the project components. There will be periodic mandatory meetings where all Capstone students meet as a group.
Mentors will be submitting a mid-semester and final evaluation form based upon the student’s performance; therefore, he or she will need numerous observations and conversations with the student to fill out the evaluation form adequately .
All Capstone students must be enrolled in the Senior Capstone Google Classroom. Updates, announcements, and requirements are posted there. For course code, see Mr. McGrath or Ms. Bennett.
Sharing is essential to Senior Project. Early in the semester, students must designate an online home for their portfolio. Free online portfolio possibilities include Google Sites, Weebly, Behance, Wix, WordPress and others. Their portfolio is the home-base for their project, where their share their topic and question, evidence/artifacts, photos, their journal, their discoveries, and their research.
The Research Paper
The Senior Project is an opportunity for a senior to take initiative in his or her learning. Here seniors highlight and demonstrate different aspects of their learning and add depth to a particular topic of interest. Students will have different approaches to displaying their work, but the one constant all seniors participating in this project will share is the research paper.
The purpose of the research paper is for students to support their essential question or topic with current, reputable research. It is not enough for students to create their finished project; they also legitimize the work they have done throughout the semester with support from current research. The students’ projects are based upon an essential question or specified topic. By writing a research paper, students show how they have acquired new information and applied it to their particular area of interest or answered their essential question. The goal is for students to take initiative in what they are learning, gain new insights, and then support those insights and learning with reputable and reliable sources.
Standards for the Research Paper:
- The paper must have an essential question or thesis to be answered clearly described in the introduction. The paper may solve a problem, narrow, or broaden the thesis or essential question.
- The paper must include peer-reviewed, professional sources.
- The paper must provide evidence to support the topic or essential question.
- The paper must analyze referenced material.
- The paper must be well organized and include an introduction and a conclusion in addition to the evidence and analysis.
- The paper must be proofread and reasonably free of spelling and grammatical errors. One rough draft must accompany the final product.
Deadlines and Other Dates
“Posting” means adding to the project website.
Dec 2nd 2:05pm PROPOSAL DUE
Dec 9th 2:05pm NOTIFICATION OF ENROLLMENT DECISION
Based on Proposal
Jan 27th 2:05pm ONLINE PORTFOLIO CREATED & SHARED
Feb 3rd 2:05pm ‘BIG 3’ POSTED
Topic, Question, Thesis
Feb 17th 2:05pm ANNOTATED SOURCES POSTED
Feb 24th 2:05pm LIT REVIEW POSTED
April 14th 2:05pm ‘ROUGHLY’ DRAFT POSTED
Rough + ugly
May 1st 2:05pm PAPER: FIRST DRAFT DUE
May 1st – 15th * INFORMAL PRESENTATIONS
*AP Tests are held during this time – plan ahead if you’re taking any!
May 18th 2:05pm PAPER: FINAL DRAFT DUE
May 18th 2:05pm JOURNAL SUBMITTED
May 18th – 26th FORMAL PRESENTATIONS
Before panel of judges and community