Sunday, September 25, 2016


I always struggle with grades.  I also struggle with the sheer load.  I carry (depending on how you count it) almost 170 students per semester.  If I give one minute per week to each student I am hitting 3 hours just on grading.  Thats not sustainable (both the 1 minute--and the 3 hours).

We also know that Level 4 of the all important Danielson Rubric requires Student Assessment, Student Rubrics, and Student Designed Learning.

In a music class which is very teacher centered by nature I am making a big leap to give students control of their grade this year.

I will establish five assignments in my gradebook:

  • Performing/Responding (40%).  This is all the instrument specific stuff and the listening/writing/responding.  
  • Sight-reading (20%).  Sight-reading tests, ear training, and dictation.
  • Music Theory (10%).  Vocabulary, chords, scales, harmony, etc...
  • Concerts (20%)
  • Participation (10%).  I felt strongly I needed a column for professional responsibilities which might include having your instrument, designing a practice plan, supporting classmates, etc..
Now here is where things will get crazy:
  • Every two weeks the student will summarize their learning in each category.  They will review teacher based assessments, student designed goals, and assign a grade.  I will review and conference with student if needed.
  • This grade will be put into the gradebook.  The gradebook will reset each marking period.  
  • So...the assignments will be static--but I will edit the grades bi-monthly with the student assigned grade.
  • There will be a ton of assessments archived in MusicFirst, Google, etc... We will assess constantly--but grade only every two weeks.
Some things I hope:
  • That students begin to create their own assessments and learning.  If I was a player in a great band the band director would lead rehearsal--but I would lead the learning.  I would figure out what to do be ready for next rehearsal.
  • That students and parents have a much better understanding of what they are doing in class.
  • That we do not let school "run us over".  That students realize they can control so much.
This is a grand experiment.  I am sure I will screw up something.  But at least we are trying!

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