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June 8, 2018

A Student’s Story: Setting Goals and Learning Through Teaching

Amedeo Bettauer, AltSchool Student

Hello. My name is Amedeo Bettauer. I am a student at AltSchool East Village and am currently in third grade.

The Roman philosopher Seneca said, “While we teach, we learn.” To learn, I teamed up with Maggie and Roxy, who are co-students in my Capstone group, to develop lesson plans about different subjects for the younger students (the Ponies). This is one of three Capstone projects we have done this year.

A Capstone project is a project in which you work toward a specific goal or topic. The difference between a Capstone project and normal homework is that it is long-term, more collaborative, and you dive deeper into the subject. In our case, we were trying to get ready for middle school.

Read: 5 Ways to Drive Student Agency with Goal-Setting

In addition to the Pony lesson plans, we did two more projects. The first one was making a video or writing piece about the Lakota, the tribe we were studying at the time. We did that to increase our creativity and teaching skills. The second project was working on the 2017-18 yearbook with David, our English language arts teacher who led us through the Capstone projects, to increase our collaborative skills. We also worked on short lesson plans for the Ponies as another way to improve our teaching skills.

During the Capstone Project, I practiced two skills: Collection and Presentation of Ideas and Responsibility to My Community. I chose these skills because when I was asked to choose a goal, I looked back on the year and noticed that, out of all the skills in the rubric, those skills were the ones I struggled with the most. I had rated myself as “Emerging” or “Practicing.”

Middle School Readiness Goal

Self-assessment is an essential skill in developing learner agency. Amedeo chose to focus on developing these two skills that he felt needed improvement.
Read: The Power of Embedded Reflection

We assessed ourselves on those projects and made inferences about our improvement. I assessed these skills by keeping track of them every day and making mental notes. Then at the end of the time, I looked back on the days and thought about how I had grown. The Goals tool was really helpful for me because I could keep track of my mental notes and store them in one place—in my goal. Every time I put evidence in, it was automatically saved.

Watch: How Capture Enables Student Agency

The Capstone projects taught me to do a better job of asking questions because in Capstone time, you have a lot of engagement with teachers and fellow students. The work is very challenging. You really have to apply your best critical-thinking skills and you have to get your mind “off the sofa” to get some mental exercise. When things are pretty challenging, you have a lot of questions.

I learned the skill of collaboration from my classmates. We learned by doing. Before I knew it, I was working in a group! One example is when I wasn’t a very good collaborator, my classmates started encouraging me to collaborate more. I realized they were telling me I needed to be more open-minded.

But if you were wondering, the hardest part about Capstone would have to be the limited amount time we had. There are only so many hours in the day!

As Seneca said, “Every new beginning comes from another beginning’s end.” The beginning of middle school is starting, and Capstone has definitely helped me along the way.  

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