video assessments

Nothing philosophical here, just a thread showing how I assess my singers’ video submissions. I just finished my first song submission of the school year (Riu Riu Chiu), assessing 31 Chamber Singers kids over my morning coffee, took less than half an hour and was a joy to do. Here are the basics for me:

  1. Have a folder of practice tracks. I have traditionally done my own (on garage band transferred over to itunes) which provides me the benefit of my knowing down cold how each voice part goes. Now however it’s a combination of my own recordings and Matthew Curtis recordings, a year subscription for $650 I believe if your budget can support that.

2. Have your Standards and Indicators in place. Ours at York High School are linked here. I think it’s essential never to score an assessment “event”, but rather to assess the skills embedded in that event. This reinforces that the assessment/video is not a hoop to be jumped through to complete, but rather a demonstration of specific learning targets. It also reinforces that the music is not the goal but the delivery vehicle!

3. Decide which indicators you are assessing for your singers’ video assignment, and rubrics ready to roll for them. In my case I’ve created a rubric library, transferable directly to Google Classroom assignments.

4. Assign the video in google classroom and then score directly IN google classroom. Their videos are assigned usually with a cushion of 4 days to complete them, and they are sung with a practice track in the background (I can assign “practice track of your choice” or a specific one such as the full group equal or their part predominant or missing). You will notice here that I’ve done two things with each video submission. First, I merely click on the indicator score the singer has earned for each target. This gives the raw score for the singer so they can see how they did against the rubric. Second, I use Mote to voice record my feedback to them. This is me giving them feedback on their technique, formative feedback on their tone, elaborating why they may have had a specific indicator score low, or commenting on general points. It’s my personal communication with them that is invaluable.

5. As I score each submission in one browser window on my left, I transfer those same scores for those same indicators to powerschool in a separate browser on my right. In the time it takes to hit “return” on my student’s video in google classroom, that’s how long it takes to add the numbers to powerschool; it takes zero extra time.

A few other quick things:

  • You’ll notice a fifth indicator, “D1”, this is my “meets deadlines/personal responsibility” indicator. The promise of standards based reporting 5 or so years ago in Maine was that we could report out grades, and completely separate out habits of work and learning on transcripts(!) which means Colleges could have identified bright students who don’t work particularly hard, as well as students who might struggle academically but are dependable and diligent. But, alas, it was not to be. As a result, I now have to be transparent about that distinction in my grading. Students who are tardy with their submissions (you’ll notice two of them above) can ALWAYS submit their videos later for full credit on their academic indicators… but the “1” for D1 remains.
  • You’ll also notice that I display their indicator scores but they have overall percentage and letter grades for the course. My tech folks over at the central office worked with me about 8 years ago to create a system where I punch in a “4” and powerschool spits out “100”. It’s wonderful, and anyone can do it. 4 = 100%/A+, 3.5 = 96%/A, 3 = 88%/B, 2 = 70%/D-, 1 = 60%/F, 0 = 0%/F (failed to submit). The best thing about this is I can still weight each indicator individually if I want to, if their tone for instance is their primary objective for an assessment. But each indicator gets a score which feeds into the overall course grade, just like traditional grade books.
  • Manageability is key. Several things I do to ensure it for me is: 1. I always have my assessments due Friday evenings by 9 pm. That way I have my weekends, usually Saturday mornings with my coffee, to score them. I could just as well make them due Wednesday evenings giving me Thursday/Friday at school to score them. 2. I never assess all my classes at the same time. This week I assessed Chamber Singers. Next week I’ll assess my Treble Choir and maybe my chorus as well, though a more rudimentary recording for the latter group. 3. I never assess a portion of music longer than 25 or 30 seconds long. Anyone who has ever judged knows that 90% of what you need to hear you hear in the first 10 seconds or so. I’m strategic as to which section needs the work on notes and rhythms, but every other indicator can be assessed within a few measures. On average, I’ll assess between 2 and 4 pages of music at any given assignment.

Assessing my students is one of the joys of this profession for me, because I know how much I WASN’T able to do for my kids before technology caught up with our needs. Reach out if you have questions, thoughts or want any resources shared with you!

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