Friday, October 25, 2013

Student Learning Objectives (SLO) and Simple Assessment Ideas

There has been so much talk of assessment lately with states requiring SLOs (student learning objectives) or other acronyms from other states that I thought I would share a little about what my district came up with for 2nd and 5th grade, as well as two of my favorite informal assessments that can be done in any grade for any subject.

In our district, we just met this past Friday to discuss our SLO's.  The state says no teacher should have more than 5, and well, we teach 6 different grades, so it will be interesting next year when we are out of our practice year and into the "real deal".  Because many other schools in Ohio have already started implementing their SLOs and doing the pre and post tests we had a lot of ideas available to us to get started.  We decided to focus on one primary grade, and one intermediate grade this year and add more in next year after we see how our idea pans out.  Many of the examples we saw focused on one skill (rhythm reading, solfa singing, or vocab) but we wanted our assessment to be a true snapshot of all we teach throughout the entire year.  Therefore, we decided it would have elements of rhythm, solfa, AND vocabulary.

Our 5th grade assessment is basically a picture of a piece of music with instructions to circle one symbol (eg. repeat sign), put a square around another (time signature), define another (tempo or cresendo) etc. There are about 10 symbols they must identify/ define.   It also has a portion where students need to fill in missing beats from a rhythm or missing solfa from a song. After they fill in what is missing, they will come up to me and perform the example.  They also have to determine if the teacher is playing the melody or a harmony part for The Star Spangled Banner.  I hope to post the test as soon as we have it developed.  If you have any questions about my basic explanation, just ask in the comments!

Because we are required to assess as part of our teacher evaluation, I have been trying to figure out more informal assessments to keep my kids on track so that I can be sure they are improving from the pre- to post- test and I am not surprised by the results.  Not that I did not assess before, but I more hyper-focused on it this year due to the changes at the state level.

2 super easy informal assessments I am now using often are:

1) Fist to 5 self check. Many people in my school are starting to use this check in many ways. It is a just a simple way for students to self-assess their own knowledge.  I have them show me "fist to 5" as related to a certain subject.  Fist= I have no idea what you are even talking about and 5= I completely understand, I could teach it.   1-4 fall in between with 1 as the lowest understanding and 4 as very good understanding.   I have done this for new rhythms, new solfa, and especially vocabulary, when they are in line at the end waiting to be picked up.  I sometimes even jot down their answers (I now have them line up in alphabetical order). 

-Also in line I am starting to do simple exit tickets like a lightning vocab round (I say a word-they define, I say a definition-they say the vocab).  I also have asked them to clap a 4 beat pattern, or sing a phrase using certain solfa, etc.  Again, if they are in alpha order it is really easy to jot down who is on track as they are walking out the door. 
Check out this great poster from 

2) The Vote Game-  I have 5-6 clouds on the board or smart board with rhythm patterns, solfa patterns (both on staff and off) or vocab words.  I then clap/ sing/ give the definition of one and the students vote for which cloud they think I am referring to.  I have students vote in front of their body using fingers to minimize cheating.  If they raise their hand high in the air others can easily see and will either out-right cheat OR second guess their own answer.   Check out my wix sharing site to get a version of the Vote Game for prepping La in late 1st or 2nd grade.  

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