Power of Three: primary music assessment

I decided to focus on the area of assessment in primary general music classes.  This has always made me uncomfortable; who wants to cripple a child with judgement of their little singing voices, or clapping hands!?  Since I have always resisted having to assess the little ones, I just didn't really do a good job of it.

This brings me to my cohort21 journey:  How can I use technology, self-assessment and portfolios to encourage students to demonstrate growth and to assess their skills over time?

The Coordinator of Teaching and Learning at my school helped me to gather my initial data gathering, by meeting with my grade 3 class (17 students) in small groups and interviewing them with my three questions.  They were:

  1. How could you improve as a singer?
  2. How do you think Ms. Paul knows how you are doing with your singing?
  3. What activities do you enjoy the most in music class and primary choir time?

This was a valuable process, and having me removed from the conversation was very helpful.  We gathered excellent comments from students, and I gained several insights as a result.  Some were:

  1.  Students in grade 3 had many ideas about how they could improve, but admittedly did not really do any of those things.
  2. There were a wide variety of favourite activities - virtually everything I already do is someone's favourite.  This opens up a lot of opportunities when thinking about portfolio creation.
  3. The students know that I can tell how they are doing - they give me a lot of credit for knowing how they are progressing, but they don't have much ownership or accountability for their own improvement.

From these insights I have started formulating a plan moving forward where I will be scaffolding singing tasks, focusing on goals and improvement, and helping students to create a digital portfolio of recordings which will demonstrate understanding of a variety of musical elements and skills.  I look forward to working on this as an action plan when we get together at the next face-to-face meeting.

4 thoughts on “Power of Three: primary music assessment

  1. This is great progress Erin! Way to step into your "learning zone"! I really liked reading that you are working with your Director of T & L. There have been many of us exploring the use of digital portfolios throughout the Cohort. I recommend connecting with @egelleny who can help you find some alum' to connect with.

    @ashaikh and @ashaikh- who have expertise usin voicethread
    @mmosun - who was a coach last year and has done a lot of work here
    @dmonson - who was in last year's cohort and music teacher extrodinaire!
    @mneale - who was a coach last year and was exploring the use of portfolios

    See you soon,
    Garth.

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  2. From how it sounds like the class' discussion with your Coordinator of Teaching & Learning went, I get the impression these folks are pretty open to sharing and showcasing their ideas and skills. Perhaps as they begin to compile portfolios, you will have the opportunity to help them develop their metacognitive skills so that they feel a greater sense of ownership and accountability, and can continue to build from there. (Also: can I just say that they sound adorable?!)

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