Students Take Action
Posted 01/09/2019 01:44PM

Using Sutori and Flipgrid to Document Capstone Projects

by Sara Romeyn, Ph.D. - Director, Humanities and Global Studies Signature Program

I'm the Director of the Humanities and Global Studies Signature Program at Bullis School in Potomac, Maryland. As part of a team mentoring talented seniors through individualized year-long research and creative projects, I set out in search of an approach that would fit a wide range of projects, from music composition to business design, to building a search-and-rescue drone to an analysis of queer teen culture. We needed a system that would enable subject-matter-expert advisors to track effort, progress, and mastery. The nature of the Capstone dictates that students be self-motivated and organized. We wanted a format that would allow students to share their motivation for selecting their topic, their progress so far, organizations and experts consulted, what they hope to achieve, and any significant takeaways. Further, we wanted to students to reflect on what success might look like for their project.

Humanities and Global Studies Senior Capstone, Class of 2019
Humanities and Global Studies Senior Capstone, Class of 2019

Our search for a tool led us to Sutori. Our Upper School tech coordinator, Stacey Roshan, has used Sutori in her own classroom as a tool for charting progress and reflection. She thought that it might work well with our Capstones, given the linear nature of the tool. Students could use Sutori like a visual timeline, embedding text, images, and even video. Stacey was able to secure a trial membership for my students to use with all of the "bells and whistles." We thought we would pair the Sutori page with Flipgrid and allow students to embed a final Flipgrid reflection. After the students created their Sutori pages, they shared them with the class.

KiAnna and Mark share their Sutoris with our class

Here's what worked well for us:

  • Students loved the visual nature of the project. This assignment came on the heels of a lengthy literature review, and students wanted a break from writing long papers! Also, it was easy to add images and short text boxes so that they could both "show and tell" what they had accomplished thus far.
  • The linear nature of Sutori worked well as a tool for presentation. Students have a beginning, middle and an end in this year-long Capstone course, and it made sense to create a Sutori that began with goals for the year, documented what had been done to date and finished with future plans and a reflection
  • Students love Flipgrid! It is a great tool for elevating our student's voices. Since these topics are so personal in nature, students were excited to share their passion for their work and use first person. And, they had so much fun adding silly icons to personalize their selfie photo.

Here's what I would do next time:

  • I'd ask students to format their posts with a date-specific header. For example, "task completed: 11/6/18" or goal completion date: 1/5/19." I think this would help students stay on track and feel accomplished about reaching goals along the way.
  • I would introduce this project at the beginning of the year and encourage students to "add as they go" so that they were able to capture all of their work and efforts.
  • I would require a weekly "Sutori check-in" where students update the Sutori and the progress of the week. The Sutoris could then be shared with classmates, program Directors and mentors.
So, while I still have some tweaking to do, I'm excited about the potential for Sutori and Flipgrid as tools for charting progress and reflecting. I'm really looking forward to April 17, 2019, when our community will see first-hand the incredible work of our seniors.

Enjoy exploring some of the projects created by my students:

For more information on the Signature Programs at Bullis School, please visit these links: Entrepreneurship, Humanities and Global Studies, STEM and Visual and Performing Arts. Each April, all seniors in Capstone classes share their work with the community during a Signature Program Symposium. You can read more about the Symposium in this article, written by our Director of Cross-Divisional Curriculum, Lisa Vardi.

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