Friday, August 30, 2013

Music Teacher Evaluation

As part of the Connecticut SEED evaluation we must come up with two Student Learning Objectives (SLOs).  Here is my effort on one of them.  I have redacted items that aren't clear yet due to it being the beginning of the year.  Comments welcome! I'm working on SLO #2 right now.

Teacher:  Brandt Schneider
Grade: 9-12
School: Seymour High School
Content area: Music

SLO Focus Statement
What will you teach in the SLO? What is the expectation for student improvement related to school improvement goals?

SLO Statement: Students in music class will show improvement in their sight-reading skills.

Rationale: Reading fluency is an essential skill for music class performance.  The more fluent students are the faster paced we can be as a class.  We can introduce much more music if students are readers.

Previous data from benchmark exams indicates music reading is a low performing skill for students at SHS.

Baseline – Trend Data
What data were reviewed for this SLO? How does the data support the SLO?

During the 2012-13 school year all band and choir students were tested in sight-reading as part of their semester exam.  In choir average and median scores from this assessment were below proficient with a median score of 28 on the CMEA assessment.  In band average and median scores were below proficient as well.

Data for the past six years of group repertoire is archived.  In general, Band has been performing at a Level 1-2 and Choir at Level 2-3.  

CMEA audition scores are also stored.  In 2010, two students were selected for All-State.  No students have been selected for All-State since then.  No students auditioned for All-State last year.

Student Population
Who are you going to include in this objective? Why is this target group/student selected?

This SLO will include all of my band and choir students. These students are fairly typical of students on our school.  Choir and band are 9-12th grade.  As of 9/1/2013 there are 13 members of the band and 47 members of the choir.  

Nearly all of these students perform below grade level standard of Level 4 on the NYSSMA scale.
Standards and Learning Content
What are the standards connected to the learning content?

1. Content Standard: Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music

Students (Choir)

a. sing with expression and technical accuracy a large and varied repertoire of vocal literature with a level of difficulty of 4, on a scale of 1 to 6, including some songs performed from memory
b. sing music written in four parts, with and without accompaniment
c. demonstrate well-developed ensemble skills

2. Content Standard: Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music

Students (Band)

a. perform with expression and technical accuracy a large and varied repertoire of instrumental literature with a level of difficulty of 4, on a scale of 1 to 6
b. perform an appropriate part in an ensemble, demonstrating well-developed ensemble skills
c. perform in small ensembles with one student on a part

5. Content Standard: Reading and notating music

Students who participate in a choral or instrumental ensemble or class

a. demonstrate the ability to read an instrumental or vocal score of up to four staves by describing how the elements of music are used

b. sightread, accurately and expressively, music with a level of difficulty of 3, on a scale of 1 to 6

Interval of Instruction
What is the time period that instruction for the learning content will occur?

The SLO will begin on September 30, 2013 and continue until May 30, 2014.
How will you measure the outcome of your SLO?

Our curriculum benchmark state standard is that high school students will be able to sightread one level below their performance level.  Our curriculum standard is that students will be able to perform at Level 4 and sightread at a Level 3.

An additional complication is that students are in band/choir for multiple years.  It is important to have a consistent, valid assessment to compare data.  We have invested in several sources of sight-reading materials and practice tools.

Even though most of the class tests below grade level we feel it is important to test them at grade level.

1. All students will be formally assessed in sight-reading with a 8-12 measure sight-reading assessment at Level 3.  This assessment will occur six times per year.  We will use the CMEA Audition Rubric for this assessment.

2.  Brief sight-reading assignments will be posted and tracked in Smartmusic.  These assessments are sequential and will be reinforced during class.  There will be 2-3 assessments per marking period.

3. Group Performance.  Band/choir is a performance based class where the end product is a group assessment.  Our concerts and rehearsals are assessments.  Compositions and the levels of performance will be tracked.

Indicators of Academic Growth and Development (IAGDs)/Growth Targets
What are the quantitative targets that will demonstrate achievement of the SLO?

1. Choir:
  • __ of students will be above the minimum standard of 28.
  • __ of students will be above the proficient standard of 38.

2. Band:
  • __ of students will be above the minimum standard of 15.
  • __ of students will be above the proficient standard of 24.

3. CMEA Auditions
  • 10 students will audition for CMEA regional festival.
  • Audition scores will form baseline for future years.  None of my current students auditioned for CMEA last year.

4. Repertoire
  • Average Level for repertoire will increase from Level 2 to Level 3.
  • Choir will complete 20 group and solo songs at or above Level 3 ready for performance.
  • Band will complete 10 group songs at or above Level 2 ready for performance.

Instructional Strategies
What methods will you use to accomplish this SLO? How will progress be monitored? What professional learning/supports do you need to achieve this SLO?

Sight-reading will be part of each rehearsal.  Teacher will model sight-reading and coach.  Sight-reading is part of the choir textbook (Essential Musicianship).  In addition, sight-reading will be part of regular Smartmusic homework and assessment.

SmartMusic tracks and records each assessment for easy comparison and tracking.  While it archives recordings it does not track data from year to year.

Finding a simple reporting mechanism for tracking this data is a professional learning support I could use.  In addition, the band is a small sample size so data may be unreliable.  

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Choir Lesson

For the first time I have two choirs that run back to back.  We have a 4 period block schedule (A/B days).  87 minute periods.

The first class is freshman choir.  I have about 26 students in that group.  The next group is "Senior" choir which has about 18.

This year I am going to use a textbook: Essential Musicianship.  I bought all three books.  I have planned on having the freshman group use Book One and the Senior group use Book Two.

I am curious to see how these groups develop.  Both groups probably have roughly equal talent.  It will come down to hard work to see which group progresses quicker.  One issue is getting combined rehearsal time if I want to combine the groups for concerts.

Each day I hope to spend about 20 minutes in the text doing warm-ups, voice builders and theory work, 20 minutes on solos and repertoire basics (like America the Beautiful, etc...), 10 minutes on writing, and 30 minutes on choir repertoire.  I'm hoping the structure will help.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Does anyone understand Smartmusic? I'm hearing different things.

Is a practice room subscription tied to a device?

This is an email I got from a colleague:

My brother and I log into Netflix with the same login and password. We can even watch Netflix on two different computers at the same time. This couldn't happen with SmartMusic. If I was clever, my brother and I could share a SmartMusic subscription and log in with the same credentials. But this means we couldn't practice at the same time. If he goes up to his room and practices on his iPad, and I go to the basement and practice on the computer, one of us will get kicked off. What I love about it: I have one subscription. I use it on my work computer. When I get home, I use it on my home computer. When I get to my cello teachers house (who doesn't have smartmusic) I log in with MY credentials and show her the superman theme i wasn't supposed to be working on (she's not really a smartmusic user, but I still want to show off). I don't have to remember to de-authorize. Just like Netflix (except installed, not webbased). 

I was told by my Smartmusic rep that I would only be able to install a practice room subscription on one device.  I could not install it everywhere and just use the log-in.

So I wish I had two subscriptions I could install it on 20 machines, but only use it on two at a time.  This seems to be the "netflix" model.

And then I get an email today which says:

This version will allow access to any computer or iPad on which SmartMusic is installed

P-bone mini

I got the p-bone mini today.

It really, really feels like a toy.   It is very light.  The mouthpiece weighs next to nothing.

I played it a bit.  I've played an alto trombone before, but I do not know the positions and this will be a project for me.  Initial impressions were good about the sound.  I could really see a lot of high schoolers buying this mini to learn alto.   Of course there isn't too much demand for alto trombones, but that's another story.   

I anticipate alternating between this horn and my regular tenor during band rehearsals.  I usually play during rehearsals.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Music Room iPad Workflow

This where I think I stand on my paperless journey.  I hope to be 95% paperless.  I've been about 70-85% paperless.  The biggest change is I am hoping that the sheet music folders and worksheets will be digital.

Two big issues I've faced:
1. We haven't had wifi at school all summer.  Still don't have it.  That's a bit of a roadblock.
2. I need students and an actual classes to test the workflow.  I don't want to create more work for myself by doing this.


In our google site I put listening assignments, forms, and any "archive" type of material.  It also holds our google calendar.  We are supposed to be going GAFE this fall, but I haven't heard anything about it yet.  If we do that I will be able to have that calendar shared a lot easier.

In Edmodo I am posting notes, assignments, and polls.  Students will be posting most of their writing assignments here.  I think I can put "worksheets" in here, have them done in the notability app, and then imported back to submit assignment.  Edmodo is new to me.

Smartmusic is not out yet for the iPad.  This is driving me crazy.  In Smartmusic we will do all of our benchmark assessments.  I have two laptops with Smartmusic installed, and am waiting to put it on two iPads.  Smartmusic records and grades the students and archives all the recordings.  We will also use Smartmusic in class for our sightreading and band exercise work.

I am putting our music folders in forscore.  The iPads will be shared across three ensembles so I am going to rely on the students to organize the folders as they see fit.  There seems to be no easy way to image this app with the metadata.  I am slowing filling my dropBox with our scanned music.  I am not sure I am doing the band naming procedure correct.  I put the band music in folders in dropbox, but once forscore imports it the folders disappear.  So I think I will name the files with "Piecename-part".

Saturday, August 10, 2013


I think I have decided to try going paperless in my freshman choir class as well.  20 iPads vs. 29 students.

I think we can share iPads for music viewing and students can use phones for Edmodo work.  I am very curious to see how Edmodo will work.  I will try to commit for a few months.

I think I will:

  • Have students create profiles in forscore so they can email .pdf home and keep track of their markings.  
  • I ordered 25 stylus.
  • I'm going to try and digitize my "worksheets" for theory work. 
  • I created folders for band music in dropbox and put parts inside folders.  I am not sure if this naming protocol will work.
  • I really, really, really need Smartmusic to get live on the iPad so I can test it.  I plan on designating two iPads as checkout iPads for students to take home for assessment work.  Hopefully that will encourage work.
When you are trying to digitize everything the big thing is naming protocol and organization.  I am pretty sure I will get this part wrong and regret something.