Transcript, Part IV

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>> The City of Biddeford has adopted a music curriculum, it's K through 12, all the music teachers either helped create it or we voted on it. We all had a piece of it somehow; that document has a number -- it's all standards based; the standards line up with the national standards and also the Maine Learning Results. So when I'm deciding -- I make all my plans in the summer and when I'm deciding what am I going to teach my students, I look to those standards. The other elementary teachers and I have -- we have had a lot of discussion on, you know, we felt like certain standards were a little more important than others so we created our own set of power standards; these are standards that we usually hit in every music class, if possible.


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And then there are other standards where maybe we're just hitting it for a couple classes or for a certain project. So I find standards based education just very clear. I'm not a creative thinker; I don't think in shades of gray, I am a black and white person. I like to know what do you want me to -- what can I teach these children? I need it to be very labeled out, cut and dry so standards based education really works for me because the standard tells you what to teach. Students will sing on pitch. Students will keep a steady beat. Students can play the recorder, you know, these five notes. Students can create songs, whatever the standard is, it makes it very clear to me.


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>> The standard based system right now for Biddeford is that we're taking on the common core and we have done some rubric work with the teachers so they're using the same tools in all their classes. We are embracing the science standards right now, along with the, you know, the reading and the math. Staff has been great, Andrea Wollstadt, -- and even our art department is -- works on standards based completely so they're both doing a really great job. The kids can tell you what they're learning, why they're learning it so Andrea definitely has been a star as far as, you know, getting music, art and gym and, you know, all the different computer -- she has really taken a leadership role.


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>> And I also like a more student center approach. I don't like the idea that I'm going to stand up and present the information and there you go, that seems like a very dated model to me. I need to know that my students are meeting these standards.


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>> More challenging than it might seem because if you have 20 students and 3 are special ed and they must label their notes in order to keep up with everybody else, then that has to be approached differently than that same group where there might be 3 students that are gifted and talented and 3 students that are just really gifted in music that play really well or read really well so it's having all of that at once.


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>> So I will use assessments, some of my assessments are very formal. We have a piece of paper, a paper trail, a grade. Other assessments, I have like this little cymbal I use in my kindergarten classroom, I point to the kid, I point to my head and I go like this, and this is all in the middle of a song. We're singing along and I'm going like this and they know that means you, were in your head voice, good job and that's part of a standard -- one of their standards is to sing, to learn how to sing and part of learning how to sing for those kindergarteners is for them to get up in their head voice. So a way that we can meet that standard, a way that I can know they meet it as I'm teaching so I don't have to take time out of my teaching to assess them, it's happening so they know -- it's that instant feedback which I think the young kids really need.


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In my classroom, my students do not really know what standards -- that word means, what a standard is, they don't -- most of them don't even know what the word assessment means so I try to use words that I think they understand. We say things like how would you rate yourself, I use that word rate a lot. I say how would you judge yourself or even a simple question is how do you think you are doing with any particular topic? Some of my assessments, like I said earlier, are formal where I record them in my database. I have a database of all 600 students. I start with the 200 kids in kindergarten, I take three formal assessments, I pass the database on to the music teacher who does grades 1, 2 and 3. She adds her assessments, whatever they are and then at the end of third grade, she's going to pass it back to me so by the end of the fifth grade, I should have lots of data on each child, that's what we're working towards, that -- having a database with some more formal assessments. The assessments tend to be more on the power standards because we feel like if we're going to help these kids and some of the kids, to me, if a student is not really all that interested in singing and kind of singing quiet and they might be a child that's whisper singing, again, it's going back to that student centered model, I don't see the benefit in really pushing that kid to sing out and forcing them to do something they don't want to do. When I have a child who wants very much to learn how to sing and for whatever reason they can't, maybe they're not singing on pitch, maybe they're not in their head voice, those are the kids that I feel like we really need to keep track of them. We need some hard data, how are they doing, okay, they came in in kindergarten really not singing on pitch, first grade we're kind of getting there so maybe are they meeting that standard by second grade, have we addressed that. So we then use that data to really -- we're looking [inaudible] and if I don't need to grade them, my assessment could be something like an S or an L or a P or whatever. Sometimes my assessments are a yes or no. Sometimes my assessments are a checklist that they have to check off so really I don't record anything because the -- if -- they can't give me that paper back until each thing is checked off so it's like yeah, okay, they did it, assessment done. They did each thing. Keeping more to a formative type assessment and engaging them in the assessment process, I feel like they are owning it a little bit more because it's not a summative assessment, there's not that fear that I'm going to get a bad grade.


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Power standards in elementary school would be singing on pitch, that's something I address every single class, especially with the kindergarten. Another power standard for kindergarten is teaching kids how to keep a steady beat and I can do that a number of ways, I can do that with instruments, I can do it with movement. We could be clapping rhythms but those two power standards I joke to people, I'm like I only teach two things in kindergarten, singing on pitch and keeping a steady beat. We do lots of other things and we attack those standards through a variety of styles of music. We do a [inaudible]. There's other standards that are not power standards that I do put in other lessons like having students create music, so not -- I won't use that standard every class but some classes I will have that but those power standards I'm getting every single class.


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I think we are able to look at those assessments across the board, look at all the data, look at my database and on any given standard, I feel like I can comfortably say these five kids are, you know, incredibly gifted at singing on pitch so not only do they meet that standard, they go above it. Now these 20 kids are meeting that standard, these few are not [inaudible] or maybe they're just starting, these few are not at all so I think on each standard, yes, I can.


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>> She came up with this scale, I guess, and it's like shout singing from like bottom to top, shout singing, speaking voice.

>> Wait, assess is speaking and [inaudible] shout singing. S is [inaudible], L is low.

>> Lower than the song.

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>> M is matching.

>> You're right on beat and exception matching is when you like put drama, extra emotion and just you have fun with it.

>> While I'm singing, I want you to be thinking in your mind how are you doing, rate yourself. Does anybody want to tell me what these letters mean? Do you guys remember? We'll start with [inaudible].

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Exceptional matching. A student is singing higher than where the song is, L means they're going to be singing lower than where the song is.


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>> [Inaudible] rate yourself so it's pretty cool.

>> We'll share how you rate yourself.


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And how would you rate yourself?


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>> I have a rubrics assessment and I've kind of modified a lot over the years and it's always changing. [Inaudible] that gives all the categories, might be going over things like technique, breathing and posture, note reading, rhythm and then on the other side, I have like the four exceeds the standard, three meets, two, one, goes down from there. Each student will take the -- they'll play something whether it's by themself or maybe in a small group, depending on the size of the class and I'll just quickly fill through the rubrics in class and then I go back and I make comments for the parents at the bottom and it goes home in their Thursday folder. [Inaudible] class that they come, we're doing small assessments that just, okay, you're group one, you're group two, you play, you play just to checking if the class is large. If the class is small, I feel like I'm always assessing them. If there's five students, it's very clear who knows and who doesn't and it's really easy to fire off the questions to them and just as a conversation in the class to understand who knows the topic that we're talking about and who doesn't.


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>> When you are done, flip your paper over so I know that you're done. I don't officially report out to parents because they don't receive a grade on the report card but unofficially I do a great deal of reporting out. I make phone calls all the time, this is what I see your child doing. I tend to make calls with students that are successful because if they're not successful, I would like to deal with that first and try to figure it out. But that lack of official grading, you know, them not getting graded on their report card, what I'm finding is that I think for young kids, anything summative, they transform that in their head to good and bad and so if they think they're doing bad, then they lose all initiative or motivation to keep going. Oh, I'm bad at that so if they got some type of negative grade on a singing assignment, I don't -- I think for a lot of them, they would never open their mouth to sing again and what's the point of that, that's almost the opposite effect of what I want.

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>> Initiative, working with other teachers and experimenting, getting other ideas, just being able to trade, you know, ideas back and forth has been so helpful. I've gotten away from numbers, I've gotten away from what we call summative assessment because I don't need to give them a grade so I thought to myself if I don't need to give them a number grade, why, you know, what is the point of this.


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