Monday, September 21, 2015

Formal and Informal Assessments in the Music Classroom

This year I am on the Music Course of Study revision team for my district.  We are starting to talk about common assessments for each grade level so I thought I would share some of our thoughts! 

Our goal is to ultimately have an interactive document where we have unpacked the standards so that we as a general music team are on the page.  We won't have  teach common lessons, but it will be nice to have continuity across the district so no matter what elementary school a student attends we know they are learning the same concepts/ vocab/ etc. at approximately the same time.  In the document we are working on, which will basically be a GIANT year plan for each grade, teachers in our district (new or not-so-new) can click on a specific concept or standard and see ideas for both formal and informal assessments they can use in their classroom.  There will also be one common assessment for 2nd grade and 1 for 5th that ALL general music teachers will be required to give 2x each year (1x as a pre-test in last September or early October and 1x as a post-test in late April or early May).  I am so excited for this document to be finished! It will be so helpful!

I track all assessments in the IDOCEO app on my Ipad.  This app is amazing. Be sure to check it out.

Most of the informal assessments I do are during games or activities in class so students don't even know they are being assessed!  5 of my favorite ideas are listed below :)

1.) I track solo singing (matching pitch) with games like Doggie Doggie, Who's That Tapping at My Window, Cobbler Cobbler (when returning shoes) and more.  Similarly, I track instrument playing assessments in the same way. Any time students are using the instruments.  It is super easy to keep track of who has played and if they are successful, using the proper mallet technique, etc. Another teacher in my district has her instrument playing rubric displayed in her room so it is super easy to remind students of what is expected AND they can also have the opportunity to easily evaluate themselves!

2.) For rhythmic and melodic concepts I often use the "The Vote Game" where I have 3-5 rhythms/ melodies, each circled and numbered- on the board and then I sing one.  Students then vote for the one they think I sang by holding up the right number of fingers in front of their stomach. It is super easy to track who got it right, who looked at their neighbors hand, and who is really struggling.  Similar to the vote game, I also have SMARTboard games that are very similar but in this case the choices change for each example.  Students see on the board one symbol that plays the example and 3 choices. They then have to choose the correct choice.  These are great for subs because the board tells students if they are correct!
Quick "VOTE GAME" with melodies written on the white board

3.) Matching games in centers.  For Music Vocab or Instrument Families or even stick-to-staff I have a lot of match games I use during centers.  Students are asked to match the name of a symbol to its picture and definition or the picture of an instrument to its name and family of the orchestra.  There are also many games where students match the stick notation of a melody to the staff notation of the same melody.  There are so many options and it is so easy to see who is successful while making the rounds during centers time.  Check out my Music Symbols Matching Games HERE or my Orchestral Instruments Matching Games HERE.

4.) Rhythm Football.  In this game, played like Steal the Bacon from gym class, students are split into 2 teams and each given a number.  There should be a "number 1" on each team. Next, I lay a bunch a rhythm cards out in the middle of the room.  To actually play the game, I read one of the cards and then call a number.  The students from each team with that number race to find the correct rhythm card and get it back to their "end-zone".  If they make it without being tagged they get a TOUCHDOWN (7 pts OR 6 pts and the extra point is reading the rhythm correctly)! If a student tags another, preventing them from reaching their end-zone, they get a Field Goal (3 pts).  This is a SUPER Fun game.  Get it from my TPT store HERE! You can get specific levels OR just get the Rhythm Flashcards Mega Set to get the cards from every level at a discount :) Because the Browns won this past Sunday- the entire store is 20% off until 9/23/2015!!!
My students playing Rhythm Football last week!

5.) Fist to Five.  This idea I got from the classroom teachers in my school.  This is just asking students to evaluate themselves on a particular concept.  Fist (or 0) represents that they have no idea what I am talking about.  1= I have heard of it.  2= I have seen it. 3= I know what it is. 4= I can explain it to someone in my own words. 5= I can explain it and use it in my musical writing (either writing about music, or in a composition).  I downloaded this great freebie from TPT and I made a bulletin board.  I use this all the time- the best part it is it literally takes 1 minute or less!

As for formal assessments I still love thing that are quick and easy.  I love to use short worksheets or worksheets with multiple activities that we use over the course of a few weeks. I do not like to take up too much class-time with written worksheets because I only see students 1x a week for 50 minutes.  If I do use a longer worksheet, it is usually during the PRACTICE stage of a concept when we are doing centers.  Two weeks after I present a concept I almost always to centers.  There is one formal worksheet center each time as well as 4 other centers that include many of the informal assessments I have listed above. 

I also will be trying to use Exit Tickets more in music this year.  Exit tickets are great because they are 1-3 questions that students can answer quickly about the lesson they just learned.  They can be about vocab, they can be aural listening examples (circle the example you hear), fill in the blank and more- the possibilities are endless!

Performance tests are also very important.  I love to do it during games where students perform a rhythm or melody during the game and maybe even make up their own.  I do this often with Ida Red.  After each chase round, the chaser reads a rhythm I give them and then makes up their own.  It is also super easy to just have students read rhythm cards/ melody cards on their own or play them on an instrument.  You can do 5-6 students VERY quickly in a class. I typically do one whole row and then move on to the next activity, doing another row the next week.

As for the pre/post tests mentioned at the beginning each of our districts common assessments have both a written component AND a performance component.

For the 2nd grade, students are asked a variety of questions we as a district thought represented the 2nd grade curriculum well.  The 1st page is all teacher directed listening examples.  They are asked which of two sounds is HIGH, which of two songs is LOUDER, which of three melodies they hear  (s-m-l) and which of three rhythms they hear (patterns with quarter, beamed eighths, and quarter rest). On the 2nd page they are asked to identify Quarter Notes, Eighth Notes, and Half notes by circling them on their paper.  They are also asked to listen to a known chant and circle the phrase that is different.    When they are finished with this portion of the test they come up to the teacher to read a rhythm card and sing a short musical example.

The 5th grade test is mostly written. The written portion consists of looking at a piece of vocal sheet music and identifying and defining certain symbols such as time signature, tempo, repeat sign, dynamic markings etc.  They are also asked to fill in the missing solfege on an example and fill in missing beats in a rhythm given to them.  Obviously, because music is so much more than what you can put on paper, students are also asked to sing "America, the Beautiful" in small groups to assess pitch matching, vocal tone, etc. In addition, they have to read the rhythm that they wrote previously during the written portion.

For ALL performance based assessments (formal and informal) our district has come up with great rubrics.  We use a 4 point system because it corresponds with our report card.  4= Above and Beyond expectations (this is just comments on the report card).  3= Meets expectations most of the time. 2= Meets expectations some of the time. 1= Rarely meets expectations.  Each of these 4 categories is really hashed out in different rubrics corresponding to different concepts such as pitch matching, instrument technique, etc.  To get help on our rubrics we used Rubistar which has a ton of saved rubrics from teachers all over the country that you can download and adapt to fit your classroom. The site also makes it really easy to create your own if none of the saved rubrics are exactly what you need.

What are your favorite ways to assess students quickly??

1 comment:

  1. What does the assessment look like that all 2nd & 5th grade music students have to take twice a year?