Putting Novelty into Assessments
In a few weeks my husband and I will be taking our first ever overseas holiday to America, and I can’t wait!!! There is only one hitch, I need to complete all of my assessments and reports before I go because when I get back I will only have two days to have 200 reports completed!
One of the assessments that I am using with my Year 7 Music classes this term is my Roll-A-Dice Rhythm Set.
I have used this lesson previously a few times with a couple of different classes to ensure that I had ironed out the bugs. My first attempt with a Year 10 class last year worked well, but after marking them I found that their marks were too high overall, which is good, but bad! I know it sounds ridiculous that a teacher doesn’t want all of her students to achieve, but a true assessment of a student’s ability in any class should have a spread of marks—a few at the top, lots in the middle and a few at the bottom. If an assessment has that spread of results then you know it is challenging enough to provide a real snapshot of the ability levels in your class at that time.
My challenge was then to see how I could keep the idea but make it more challenging and authentic task. The answer was simple—ask the students to perform the rhythms that they had notated. This simple, but logical addition to the original idea meant that I could truly see if a student could apply their knowledge of rhythm in a real situation. So this week I have been busy completing this task with my classes.
In this product there are FIVE different worksheets, each getting a little harder, as well as a marking rubric and all of the rhythms in a large task card for students to use as manipulatives as well. I have 4 year 7 classes of different ability levels. There are two high ability classes and two mixed ability classes with a lot of struggling readers in them. I found that with the different sets I could easily differentiate for the classes—I used set 3 with the higher ability classes and set 1 with the other two classes. I wanted to ensure each class was challenged just enough to make them work hard for the task.
Below are the steps I took to complete the task, each class needed two lessons (ours are 53 minutes long)
Introduce the Task
Explain the process—what they will actually be doing
Explain the marking rubric—I like to let the students know where their marks are coming from
Demonstrate and teach each of the rhythms—this took longer than I expected!!! I didn’t have these classes until term 3 of this year and they hadn’t done as much rhythm work as was stated in the program, so it was a lot of revision
Ask students to roll a dice and record numbers—I only rolled 4 times, this way students couldn’t copy all of what I notated on the board!
Notate the rhythm on the board and explain what grade they would achieve if their work looked like mine on the board—my writing is terrible so they knew what a C looked like!!!!
Clap the rhythm that was notated, ask students to clap the rhythm solo, then ask the class to do it a couple of times. At this point I knew if they could check their level of understanding of the actual task— for some classes it meant going back over the rhythms again.
Explain the task again— and ask students to repeat back the instructions
Hand out the dice and let them go!
We have 53 minute lessons, and this took nearly 30 minutes to complete this part of the lesson. It meant they really only had enough time to roll their dice and notate their rhythms. At the end of the lesson I collected back all of their sheets. Some of the more keen students wanted to keep it to rehearse but I asked them to use their phones instead and take a photo, that way we didn’t lose any of their work!
In the second lesson I handed out their sheets, went back over the rhythms quickly, then they were given time to rehearse before they came up individually to clap their rhythms to me. This was a bit hectic, but the most valuable part of the whole task. I marked their performance at the time and would tell them if they needed to go back and rehearse some more and which parts.
Most students did well. and those who didn’t, wouldn’t have achieved much more than their final mark anyway.
Below are some examples of the students work from one of the higher ability classes, I seemed to get a lot of A’s , B’s and D’s in this particular class—just the way it worked out.
This is definitely a task I will use again, and again in the future. My next ideas are to have another rhythm set and a couple of melodic sets as well.
Until next time
Julia from Jooya
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