Week 15 – Self-Assessment For Ourselves

Self-Assessment For Ourselves…

One of the ways that I learn is by asking questions.  However, while it is good to ask questions of others so as to learn from one another, it is equally wise to ask questions of ourselves about our own work.  This past week I was chatting with a fellow colleague who mentioned his intention this year was to question the purposes behind his plans as he proceeds through the year.  He wants to ensure that the things he plans for his students this year are based on more than just past practice.  It was a great reminder that as teachers we should not just be asking students to self-assess and take stock of their learning, but we should consider doing the same in regards to our own methods and work.

This conversation turned out to be rather timely as I continued into my book study this week.  The chapter of focus for this week challenges us as music educators to question what we do in music education, why we do it, and how we do it; a process essentially for teacher self-assessment.  It is suggested that the answers to these types of questions should really be what guides our musical decisions in the classroom.  See below for some shared highlights from this week’s reading.


Kendra’s Reading Corner…

The ultimate aim in terms of students’ outcomes is for students to create and have an ‘aesthetic response.’  Swanwick describes an aesthetic experience as feeding the imagination and affecting the way we feel about things; music without aesthetic qualities is like a fire without heat.  He says skills alone are not enough (Swanwick, 1979, as cited in Price & Savage, 2012).

Swanwick believes that giving students opportunity to compose music is one of the most important musical experiences to include in the music curriculum.  He describes it as such: “Composition in its broadest sense – all forms of musical invention” (Swanwick, 1979 & 1999, as cited in Price & Savage, 2012).

The concept of musical understanding as an important goal should be demonstrated by musicianship, musicality, and aesthetic awareness.  These concepts of musical understanding ought to impact the curriculum planning process.  Theoretical, historical and notational knowledge aids musical understanding but should be imbedded in activities where students explore these practically as musicians.  Further, students need to explore a wide range of styles, genres and traditions across time and place and, emphasis should be placed on the ‘quality’ of musical responses and outcomes.

Musical progression should reflect breadth and depth.

Breadth – Do you have a broad range of styles, genres and traditions? Are there sufficient opportunities for students to follow their own interests as part of the music curriculum?  Is there a full range of teaching and learning styles – informal and formal; closed, guided and open, individual, small group and class ensemble?  Do students have opportunities to be creative, generating unexpected outcomes?

Depth – Is each unit placed at the appropriate point in terms of the stages of progression? Do the units gradually offer opportunities for students’ work at the highest levels?   How are the key processes developed throughout the scheme of work?

A Self-Assessment tool for the Music Teacher:

Attached is a chart that teachers can use to guide their decision-making process and reflect on how their planning guides student learning.  Below is a summary of how to complete the chart (or create your own).

self assessment chart

Use the chart to answer the following questions:

  • What is the music you want to explore?
  • What is this music for?
  • What do you want your students to learn about this music?
  • How will students develop their understanding of the music?

When you have the chart filled in, you can audit the curriculum map to ensure that you are developing a broad range of musical experiences for your students.  You can color code it to map the different learning processes being used or the different types of music being studied or the different types of learning the students might be engaged in (formal/informal, etc.).

Then, stand back and look.  Are there a variety of colors?  Are there empty spaces on the map because you can’t answer the questions?  If yes, what type of musical learning opportunity could fill that gap?  If your students were to complete this chart, what would it look like?  Would their variety of colors be consistent with each other?  Would their variety of colors be consistent with yours?

Reference: Teaching Secondary Music, edited by Jayne Price and Jonathan Savage, Sage Publications, London, 2012.



Attached is a nice and easy activity to get students exploring sound and trying out different instruments by way of a Sound Scavenger Hunt.  This is based on having a variety of small percussion or found objects around the room.  Feel free to take the items listed here and vary them for your students.  Encourage your students to be creative in what they look for.  In warmer weather, have your students do a sound scavenger hunt outside using only items in the environment as sounds to be collected.  Maybe your students could create a scavenger hunt and trade it with other students in the class.

Sound Scavenger Hunt

This week a teacher pointed me to a website and a DVD that works well for getting young children singing and doing movement.  The DVD is called “Better Bodies and Brains” and the website is http://dr.jean.org/

Saskatchewan Artsmart Grants – PSSD has two applications for grants submitted this year.  Stay tuned as we should hear the results sometime in the next few weeks.

PSSD Library – We now have 2 boxes of small hand percussion available to be signed out of the library.  One box is primarily African hand percussion and the other box is primarily Latin hand percussion.  Please contact Amanda Irvine at the library to book these boxes if you would like to access them this year.


Kendra’s Road Schedule:

Monday – DO all day, East Band Concert @ 7 pm

Tuesday – Waldheim AM, Blaine Lake PM

Wednesday – Colonsay AM, DO PM

Thursday – Blaine Lake all day

Friday – DO


Next week:

Monday, Dec. 15th – DO AM, Blaine Lake PM

Tuesday, Dec. 16th –

Wednesday, Dec. 17th – Colonsay AM, Dentist PM

Thursday, Dec. 18th – Blaine Lake all day

Friday, Dec. 19th –