Getting The Most Out of Capstone Projects with bulb Digital Portfolios
Principal Frazier of William H. Turner Tech High School empowers students through innovation and highlights the inspiring outcomes.
William H. Turner Technical Arts High School, located in the inner city of Miami, FL, is part of the Miami-Dade Public School System. M-DCPS is the 4th largest school district in the U.S. with 392 schools, and 133 of them on the U.S News & World Report list of 2020 Best High Schools.
Principal Uwezo Frazier of Turner Tech has over 24 years of experience in education. Fueled by giving back, sharing knowledge, and permeating it throughout the community, his plan continues to be to revolutionize education with innovation. One way he’s done this is through revamping the Senior Capstone Project.
What is the Turner Tech Senior Capstone Project?
Turner is a total academy school with several nationally distinguished programs. All programs require a capstone project. Each senior works on their project and documents their progress in their bulb digital portfolio. Throughout the year, as students collect awards, demonstrate talents, and discover new passions and experiences they include them in their portfolio. While every grade level completes a capstone project, the emphasis is placed on the senior’s portfolios so they can be used to apply to colleges, internships, and jobs.
Before seniors graduate, they present their portfolio in front of the community. Creating a space for seniors to show who they are and what they know enables them to share with others that the challenges many of them experienced, growing up in the inner-city Miami, does not define them.
The Senior Capstone Project has not always been so streamlined and empowering for seniors.
History of the Turner Tech Capstone Project
Before Principal Frazier, capstone projects were large stacks of papers passed back and forth between teachers, school leaders, and mentors. This paper-based system made it difficult for students to keep track of their work, and for teachers, leaders, and mentors to give meaningful feedback.
Concerned that students might exploit gray areas in the process and poke holes in a flawed system, Principal Frazier set out to find a new way. What would be a more streamlined way to document a student’s high school career? And what would be a more motivating system for the students to try their best?
Finding A Better Way
Motivated to find a more efficient process for everyone’s time and resources, Principal Frazier began challenging the status quo. His goal was to create an environment where students could thrive. He knew the capstone project could be life changing for all students, but first he would need to empower them.
He was approached by Dr. Lupe Diaz, Executive Director of CTE for the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, about using bulb Digital Portfolios as the paperless, efficient solution for the Senior Capstone Project. After thoroughly reviewing what it would take to implement the digital solution across the school, he decided to give bulb a try. William H. Turner Tech became the first Miami-Dade School to implement bulb on their campus.
Implementing the Digital Process
Making this drastic change to a deeply embedded process was going to be challenging. Using his 24 years of experience, Principal Frazier knew his first step towards implementing bulb across the school was to inspire the educators. In a May 2020 bulb Webinar, Principal Frazier went into detail about how he did this, and offered the following advice to administrators for implementing new EdTech tools school-wide:
- As the Principal, it starts with YOU. The entire building adopts the tone of the principal. Teachers, students and admin will gravitate to your personality and how you handle things.
- Speak passionately about the new tool. If you’re not passionate about it, your staff won’t be. See the first bullet point for more.
- Your words are important. Using the phrase, “We are doing this,” shows you’re in this new process with them. They’ll follow your lead.
- Do not underestimate the role the entire leadership team plays in the implementation process. These initiatives require a lot of admin support to ensure things run smoothly after implementing changes.
In addition to inspiring his staff, Principal Frazier regularly checks in with teachers and students to gain a pulse on how everyone’s doing. Some of his methods include:
- “Inspect for success.” Walking the building and seeing for himself how the tool is being used. When school became remote, he joined the virtual classes to see how the work was coming along.
- Celebrating success, big or small.
- Controlling the narrative. If he hears negativity, he listens and stops it. Negativity will set a school back.
- Making sure the students are able to articulate the new technology to their teachers, peers and parents.
- Finding meaningful rewards for teachers and students when they adopt the new technology.