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How to Set Your Students Up for Success – Assessment

Aug 16, 2022 | Tips and Tricks for Music Teachers, Tips for First Year Music Teachers

How to Set Your Students Up for Success – Part 1 Assessment

How was the last school year in your music classroom? Did you struggle with behavior management? Do you feel like your students learned enough? How did your programs go? As a teacher, you are always thinking about a better way to reach your students and the best way to help them learn. The beginning of the year is the perfect time to think about how last year went and to put some new procedures and ideas in place.

Now that you’ve played a couple of name games and developed your classroom culture, you can start focusing on teaching your first unit. Or can you? There are so many things to think about at the beginning of the year. Assessment is at the top of the list, before you can even start teaching music skills.

Whether you’ve been at the same school for many years, or this is your first year, assessment is an important part of the learning process. Assessment is evaluating where your students are in their learning journey, so you can decide what they still need to learn. As a music teacher, assessment is particularly challenging, because you see so many students.

This type of assessment is what happens at the beginning of the school year. You just want to know where your students are at and what you need to teach them. This is not the type of assessment you would do for grading purposes. You can assess students once at the beginning of the year, or you can assess them each time you begin a new lesson. Following are some types of assessment that work well in the music classroom:

  • Plickers – This is an individual assessment method that works really well for the music classroom. Plickers are cards that you hand out to your students. They work like a QR code. All you need is your smart phone and the app. You set up multiple choice questions in the app, and your phone will read your students answers. Then it will show you how many students answered each option. It’s pretty cool. You can even purchase Plickers on Amazon.
  • Observation – One of the cool things about being a music teacher is that it’s pretty easy to assess your students by simply observing them. For example, you can glance around the room and tell who is keeping the steady beat. You can walk around and listen for students who are matching pitch while they sing.
  • Written test – This type of assessment can be stressful for students. Many times, students don’t even know they’re being graded in the music classroom (how often have you hear, “We get a grade in music?”). Handing out a written test is a sure fire way to create anxiety in your classroom, because children associate paper tests with performance and grades.
  • Ticket out the door – This type of assessment involves asking students a question and allowing them to write down an answer as they leave. You can also use mini white boards or mini magnetic drawing boards (kind of like mini etcha sketches). This is less of an exact science but will give you an idea of where your students are at.

If you’re looking for some additional details on assessment, as well as ideas for how to record your data, Aileen Miracle has a great blog post you can check out.

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