Friday, August 9, 2013

Back to School/Back to Grading

For a very very long time I have struggled with the concept of assigning grades/keeping a grade book etc. in our performance based classes. While we talk a lot about assessment and standards and now common core curriculum I didn't feel like we have talked a lot about the nuts and bolts of managing assessment in terms of handling grades etc.....

So I started a journey this summer that is no where close to being done. Solving this problem of grading and reporting student learning in my own classroom. Through the support of my friend Matt (a fellow band director who also decided to read the same book) we picked up the following book:

And I just finished reading the entire thing. So for the first time on this blog I am going to try to run a "series" of blog posts that summarize and share the information presented in the book. I recommend that you read the book but if you can't, won't, or don't oh well. I loved the book and agree with the authors that I think there should be used and abused copies in every classroom and staff room in America because if nothing else this book makes you really thinking about grading systems. You don't have to agree with everything in the book but as a teacher we have a responsibility to stand behind what we decide to present in our classrooms and how we choose to evaluate and grade student learning.

So I will be summarizing each chapter briefly focusing on what I believe is going to be most relevant for my music classroom (and maybe yours...again which is why I recommend that YOU read the book). The ideas presented are not mine but a summary of each chapter. I will also be sharing samples of how implement these ideas into my classroom. I already know it won't necessarily be pretty but I have to start somewhere.


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  2. Can't wait to get the condensed version by reading about it here! I change/refine my grading system every year...this year is no different.

    Grading something as complex and authentic as music is such a challenge. How should one reward competency vs. growth? How much weight should we give to compliance? How do we communicate this complexity to our students (and parents) without confusion?

    So many music teachers just slap a grade on a kid based on a few one-on-one audition-type performance tests, concert attendance, and a general wishy-washy take on attitude/citizenship. This does little to motivate students or accurately reflect their efforts/achievements.

    Yet, rubrics tend to fall flat when grading performance, especially musical performance. Regular skill checks are extremely difficult with large class sizes as they eat up a ton of time and leave the class without the watchful eye and ear of the director.

    So, yes. Bring it on. I'll be reading.