After a very enjoyable two weeks of holiday time with my family, I returned to teaching last Wednesday. (Yes, I am very fortunate that my district had professional development/work days on Monday and Tuesday. We started our regular school week with students on Wednesday. It was a gentle re-start for the new year!)
On Tuesday, I presented a workshop on music performance assessments for the elementary music teachers in our district. This was actually the 4th time I presented this particular session; I've presented assessment ideas at CMEA (Colorado NAFME conference,) a couple of years ago, for NKE (Northwest Kodály Educators) last May, and a neighboring Colorado district last November.
I believe authentic assessment is an extremely valuable tool in the music room for many reasons.
•Assessment shows growth in student learning.
•Assessment guides teacher instruction.
•Assessment validates school music programs to students, parents, and the community.
In most states, teacher accountability is stressed and along with that, student achievement and progress is under the microscope. Of course, I could get very political here and talk about the downfalls of standardized testing in general but this is not the place! Lucky for us music teachers, we still have control over most of the decisions regarding how we assess. I'm very fortunate that my district has an excellent curriculum that works very well with my personal philosophy of music education.
I have written many rubrics for performance assessments that have worked well for me.
This post is really about assessing folk dancing.
I love to spend the first couple of weeks of the new year focused on folk dance; during this time of year, the kids really need to move more and there are more "inside recesses" called due to weather. I incorporate folk dances in my lessons all school year long, but we dance much more in January. (And it looks like I'm not the only one; check out Aileen Miracle's recent post on folk dance.)
Like many music teachers, I love the Amidons resources, Sanna Longden's materials, and Phyllis Weikhart's Rhythmically Moving series.
I also spend some time teaching some basic Tinikling steps, (I'll post all about Tinikling, the national dance of the Phillippines, later this month.)
My 6th graders enjoy dancing and last year I included a student self-assessment for one of the dances they learned. I video-taped them dancing and then we watched it as a class. Each student was responsible for grading/assessing themself. (I make sure to capture every student in action while recording.) I introduce the rubric ahead of time and we talk about each expectation. I also give them the option to revise the rubric as a class, as long as they can provide good reasons.
Here is my dance rubric for student self assessment:
Folk Dance Rubric
A) Student is focused (present/ “in the moment”,) and maintains consistent effort. Student performs the dance steps correctly and maintains the beat and phrasing of the music. Student easily corrects any missteps or unexpected circumstances.
(B) Student is focused (present/ “in the moment”,) and maintains effort most of the time. Student performs the dance steps correctly and maintains the beat and phrasing of the music most of the time. Student easily corrects any missteps or unexpected circumstances.
(C) Student is not focused (present/ “in the moment”.) Student performs the dance steps correctly some of the time. Student sometimes corrects any missteps or unexpected circumstances.
(D) Student is not focused (present/ “in the moment”.) Student performs the dance steps correctly some of the time. Student causes missteps or unexpected circumstances.
On the worksheet the 6th graders complete they must justify their grade and also write about why dancing is worth learning. (By the way, on a related note, here is an excellent TED talk by Ken Robinson regarding education and de-valuing of the arts. He makes an excellent case for re-thinking intelligence and creativity.)
This has been a wonderful way to help the students to consciously make the connection between dancing and musicality. It is also interesting how students' dance steps and overall movements improve!
Some of my favorite dances for assessment:
(These are easy to learn but require group cooperation.)
- Sashay the Donut from Sashay the Donut - New England Dancing Masters (Amidons)
- Troika from Rhythmically Moving 2
- The Vowell Dance also from Sashay the Donut - New England Dancing Masters
- The Virginia Reel from Historic and Contemporary for Kids and Teachers (Sanna Longden
If you would like a copy of the Dance Rubric/Student Self Assessment worksheet, it is available (free) here at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
Today I added a few more freebies on my TpT store. (These are items that have been available as free downloads on my website, The Kodály Aspiring Music Classroom, I thought it was time I included them at TpT as well.)
I hope you are having a wonderful start to your new year!