Improving student results

Time to reflect and renewCondtions_that_lead_to_frustration

This post is all about my current Year 11 Music Class. For those of you have read my posts in the past, I started at a new school half way through the academic year, just over 12 months ago. This has been a time of adjustment for me as I have had new students, a new school and new systems to become familiar with.

At my last school, my Year 12 classes, consistently had the highest class average and one of my students would always get the highest mark in the school, in the HSC. I thought all was good with the world! I really thought, that with my reputation, dedication and hard work that I would transfer these past successes to my new class, school and students. WELL was I WRONG!!!! (well, not totally)

I have a rather large Year 11 class of 24 students on the class list at the beginning of the year. I have since had 5 students officially leave school, so numbers have dropped – this is a good thing. I always look ahead to where I need to take my students, and having 24 students would have meant at least two full days of Performance Exams with the HSC Markers, 24 x 4 pieces of music to prepare to exam standard, as well preparing all these students for the written Aural Exam. Even though the task seemed daunting, I knew I had the “stuff” to do it, I had done it before, and got the results, so I just went ahead teaching how I teach.

I have always had very high expectations of my students, and of myself, and that can be both a good and bad thing. The Education literature states that we should expect the best of our students, and if we do, and show them the way, they will meet and even exceed those expectations. So I launched into teaching my class at the beginning of the year. I started the year as I always do, getting to know my students, their strengths and their weaknesses. So when it came time for their first assessment, I did expect that everyone would complete the task. After all, we had spent a lot of time working on it in class – it was a group composition task using both tuned and untuned percussion instruments. I was very happy with most students and their efforts, however, to my surprise, some chose to simply not submit the task! Letters went home informing their caregivers that the task was not done, and it was up to both the students and myself to resolve the task – they have to complete the task, and they will still get a “0” for it unless there was some reason they could prove as to why they should get their actual mark.

Well, fast forward to last week, and we are up to Assessment Task 4. This task is the Viva Voce.

2015 bundle cover 1-6

Link to the Music Analysis Bundle here

In this task, students have to choose three pieces of music, analyse them using the scaffold in the booklet, find and edit music samples, then prepare and present a 10 minute discussion on their chosen music – the Viva Voce. Just as I always do, I prepare the students with previous samples, give them a demonstration of a good and bad Viva, then give them plenty of class time to work on the assessment so I can help and guide them as they need it. When it was time for submission, I really thought that I would have most of them handing in their booklet showing their analysis. Again, was I wrong!!! And very disappointed. I had only 12 submissions, out of 19. This was simply not acceptable.

So, I have gone back to the drawing board. If it had been only 1 or 2 students not completing the task, then it could be their fault. BUT to have 7 students just simply choose not to do the task, I have to start reflecting and start asking questions why???

Was the assignment too hard? – I didn’t think so, I had used this format several times in the past with a 100% submission rate

Was I asking too much of the students? – not according to the Board of Studies, it is what they are required to complete as part of the course

Did I explain the task? I thought I had

Did I give enough support? Again, I thought I had

So what is the problem? I don’t actually know!

I have gone back to the drawing board and dug into some resources I have used in the past to get students to reflect on their own progress.


Link to the FREE Improving Student Results Bundle here

So what I am going to do? Well, after some soul searching, and some frustrated tears, I have put together some resources to keep both myself and my students moving forward. The first thing I have done, is look at the weaknesses.There are three main ones for this class – not knowing musical terminology confidently, not having suitable pieces selected for Performance exams and submission/completion rates need to be higher! Below you can see my SMART Goal for the class.


So, with a sense of renewal, I will go into class on Monday with a clear plan of what I am going to do with the class, and what I expect they will do to help themselves. The first thing I will give them is a Predicted HSC mark based on their current level of Achievement, I am hoping this will be a wake up call, as most are not achieving at the levels I know they are capable of. After this I will show them my class goal. Then I will ask them to reflect on their own Achievement and Effort levels in both Performance and Aural. (See the Performance one below)


After this, the students have a series of questions to reflect and answer, then I will interview each student separately to help them create their own SMART Goal and work towards an improvement.

This will be a big task, simply because they have their Yearly Exams in 5 weeks!

Until next time

Happy Teaching

Julia from Jooya

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