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Capstone Project: What Does “Being an American” Mean to Me?

Guiding Questions:

  • What does “Being an American” mean to me?
  • What principles and virtues are common to all Americans?


  • Students will reflect on what they have learned across the Being an American curriculum.
  • Students will practice civic virtues needed in civil society by working in groups.
  • Students will research and analyze a topic of their choosing connected to the Being an American curriculum themes.
  • Students will practice public speaking skills by sharing what they learned in a presentation or prerecorded video.

Facilitation Notes: Students will consult Appendix A: Founding Principles and Civic Virtues Organizer and Appendix B: Being an American Unit Graphic Organizer from the first lesson in the curriculum. This project is designed as a culminating assessment after completing the Being an American curriculum. Students may choose to work on their project individually or in small groups, subject to teacher discretion. If allowing students to work in groups, you may opt to use Group Contract to ensure accountability. You may elect to have students work on their projects during class, on their own time, or both. You may wish to use Research/Library Check-In if using class time. This project allows for a significant amount of student choice in selecting the topic and medium that their project will take. It is recommended that teachers approve the topic as shown in the project parameters to ensure students ground their content in the material and demonstrate the knowledge they have gained.


  • Have students consult Appendix B: Being an American Unit Graphic Organizer. Have students reflect on how their answer to the question “What does ‘Being an American’ mean to me?” has changed, if at all. Ask students to do a quick-write and then share with a partner or small group. Have volunteers share their responses. Tell students that the project they’ll learn about today will give them an opportunity to explore this question as well as what they have learned across the Being an American curriculum.


  1. Distribute and review the directions for the project parameters with students. If using Project Rubric, distribute it as well, and review how students will be evaluated.
  2. Allow students time to reflect and brainstorm topics. Students should have access to Appendix A: Founding Principles and Civic Virtues Organizer during brainstorming. If working in groups, students can complete the group contract. Once students have chosen a topic, they must complete the bottom portion of the project parameters and get teacher approval.
  3. Students can work on their research and projects during class, subject to teacher discretion.

Assess & Reflect

  1. Allow at least one class block for project presentations. Assess student projects using the rubric or one of your own.
  2. At the end of the presentations, ask for student feedback on what they learned from their own research and from other presentations and what they most enjoyed about the project.


  1. Invite other classes, teachers, or community members to hear student presentations.
  2. If allowed, document student work and presentations on a class or school website or social media to showcase student work to an audience beyond the classroom.

Student Handouts

Related Resources