Formative Assessment in Music Education
Updated: Dec 9, 2018
My first blog post is dedicated to my teaching credential program, instructors, and cohorts. This week we've been researching and focusing on Formative Assessment, which is a tool I use both in my private music lessons as well as my music classrooms to find out what my students are absorbing in our lessons in order to plan for future review and instruction.
Through my reflections this week on formative assessment as utilized both in my classroom and others', I find myself wondering how to include more technology to track and analyze the data I gather from formative assessments. Technology can provide an effective way to compile, track, and share information with students as well as staff members. I have to limit my use of technology in the classroom for the most part due to my teaching environments, but I'd like to be ready for some day in the future when my teaching conditions are more tech advanced. In the meantime, I will personally practice methods of collecting data and assessing without a lot of technology. Socrates used formative assessment with his students without the use of any technology and it proved very effect in his Socratic method.
I largely trust my abilities to assess most students in music class by watching/listening/recording them while they play instruments. I do see room to better assess them by using exit tickets as well as more verbal questions in which they all respond with a hand signal to indicate their answer, which would help me identify how well the class understands the lesson overall. I share with my students whether I assess that we need to change directions and cover additional information or spend a little extra time on a particular concept or skill.
In order to teach effectively to different types of students including English language
learners (ELL), students with special needs, and Gifted and Talented students, I would make sure to modify the activity. For example, a student who struggles to play a more complex rhythm on a drum could just play a steady beat instead as well as the way I visually present in writing and diagrams either new information or assessment questions. Providing a chart of information to help ELL students decode vocabulary words on their own using simple english words allows those students to continue their music learning in english. Most ELL students listen and follow the activities in class very well because so much of what we do in music involves a lot of visual and sonic demonstration as well as practice. I observe my ELLs and students with special needs regularly (as well as all members of the class) to see who is struggling and may need further instruction. Students who excel at the material can be called on to lead or teach the rest of the class what they know in various ways that allow them to develop new
As teachers, our job is to make sure that our students progress through the curriculum and meet curriculum standards and objectives both in the moment and summarily. The more often and thoroughly educators can assess for learning progress, the better prepared students are for their future and the more we as teachers can delve into the subject matter at hand. I feel most fulfilled as a teacher when my students ask deeper, challenging questions and/or make connections during class discussion between our lesson and the world beyond the classroom. When these moments happen, I will look at it now as another formative assessment as well as a sign of prior successful formative assessments. Fellow teachers, what moments in the classroom or with individual students tell you that your formative assessments are working?