Monday, November 7, 2016

Playing Checkups

Elementary orchestra playing checkup assessment sheet

From time to time, we have checkup days in small groups, where each student plays for me individually and then I can give some one-on-one feedback to each student.  I prefer to emphasize the value of the individualized feedback, talking about what's going well and where there is room for improvement, rather than calling it a playing test and emphasizing the grade part of it.  I do enter grades from these checkups, but I don't think that's as useful to students as the one-on-one mini-lesson part of it.  I try to keep the atmosphere relaxed, low-key, and positive to keep students from feeling too anxious or nervous.

I usually pair checkup days with compositions--I get everyone started on their compositions and then I ask who would like to play first while the others begin work on their compositions.

I've created a generic checkup sheet that can be easily modified.  I like to put the grade level and name of piece on the top.  I also add a 4/3/2/1 for each characteristic listed; it's quick to circle numbers for each bullet point.  I write in the student name and instrument ahead of time, and I have the sheets already in the order I'll be seeing students that day so I don't have to take any time writing names or digging for the right slip.

While students are playing, I will circle numbers, underline phrases, and write specific comments.  Afterwards, we have a quick conference, talking through the comments I wrote and trying out the comments I had.  It really is like a mini-lesson.  I keep the slip long enough to make a copy of everyone's for myself (to record grades into my grade book later), and then I return the originals to students hopefully by the end of the same day so they can be a reference during home practice.

My district uses achievement based grading, so I enter 4s, 3s, 2s, or 1s into whichever categories are being recorded.

Checkup sheet (generic)

Feel free to modify and use with your students!

Elementary orchestra playing checkup assessment sheet

Elementary orchestra playing checkup assessment sheet

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