Culminating Capstone Projects: Another Option for Engaging Students Remotely

capstone projects banner with student walking

Introducing AFT's Capstone Projects Initiative

During an unprecedented time in the history of schooling, nearly 55 million of the country’s 57 million K-12 students have been affected by school closures. Despite these circumstances, teachers, students and families are going above and beyond to continue teaching and learning. They are pivoting quickly and utilizing online technologies to engage in virtual classrooms.

Learning is taking place on a variety of levels ranging from online learning to paper/pencil learning plans. And, unfortunately, many students do not have access to technology, creating an inequitable teaching and learning environment. As districts try to address these challenges, we cannot lose sight of the fact that students already have completed at least seven months of learning. We need to make sure to honor this, not invalidate it, and offer them closure to their school year.

AFT members across the country are grappling to balance their search for accessible and culturally relevant teaching resources while simultaneously creating plans to ensure their students’ learning has not been stunted due to the abrupt closure of their school buildings. On top of this, in addition to being concerned for their students’ safety and well-being, educators are trying to determine whether their teaching efforts have succeeded as well as ascertain how much their students have learned. With this in mind, AFT President Randi Weingarten has launched an innovative virtual initiative: Culminating Capstone Projects. This initiative will be a way for K-12 students to demonstrate what they have learned in innovative, meaningful ways, and to have an unofficial and exciting wrap-up of their school year.

Celebrating Achievement with Capstone Projects

To address this important year-end milestone, a cadre of preK-12 AFT members from across the nation has jointly designed standards-based, integrated content, offering capstone project ideas that are grade-level and developmentally appropriate. These projects will enable students to demonstrate learning in a variety of ways, such as writing a story or song, scrapbooking and counting objects in the home. These capstone projects can be utilized to wrap up the school year, be used to complete a voluntary summer learning program, or even serve as a re-entry into the next school year—whenever that happens. Teachers can adapt and modify the capstone project ideas, making them unique for their classrooms. All of the necessary resources have been provided (e.g., hyperlinks, activity sheets, question prompts, etc.) to make them easy to use. Most of all, we want students to feel good about all they know! Explore ways for your students to show off what they know, and check out the grade-band themes and keep in mind that you can share completed capstone projects on the free Zigazoo app or share personal interviews and narratives using StoryCorps Connect.


Grades K-2: All About Me

The "All About Me" project can be customized to focus on
mathematics, science, reading and art.

k-2 capstone projects



Grades 3-5: We Are All Connected

We Are All Connected is designed to meet academic standards for
science, social studies, ELA and math.

capstone projects 3-5



Grades 6-8: The Power of Story in a Changing World

This project can be customized to focus on
mathematics, science, social studies or music

capstone projects middle school


Grades 9-12: Overcoming Challenges Through the Lens of Social Justice

Students select a struggle of their own choosing and carry out a project that can be adapted to 
meet academic standards for ELA, social studies, or science and math. 

capstone projects high school