I could talk to you about how I structure my units, my system for classroom management, or what sort of lesson plan I use but I’ve already talked a little bit about many of those things (for example you can find my lesson plan template here or a post about classroom rules here). I work in a pretty large urban district and we have a fairly structured pacing guide for instruction. That makes it difficult to talk to you about how I sequence my lessons for the year or a great arching plan for instruction since all of my lessons and units revolve around a pacing guide that I can’t really change.
Instead I want to talk to you about one of the things that’s been in my head this summer as I plan for the new year: assessment. I’ve been working for a good year now on trying to create rubrics for my classroom and how to structure assessment so that it’s easy and doesn’t take too much time from classroom instruction. Let me share with you a little of what I’ve done in that process, some things that are working for me (and that I’m working on), and an App for my iPad that I’m really excited about.
As I said, I made a set of rubrics for the content in my district music curriculum and these rubrics are very specific. These are great in that they are very clear about what was expected and what behaviors would look like at each level of proficiency. I could use them to show students what I’m looking for in their singing/playing/etc. For example, when talking about singing I could show them that a 3 was a student who sang all the words in time and on pitch, a 2 was a student who sang most of the right words and usually was on pitch, and that a 1 was a student who tried to participate and got some of the words right but didn't use their singing voice. Rubrics like this show the student (before the work starts) what to shoot for and can be used afterwards for assessment. In the case of the rubrics I made for our pacing guide, they were wonderful because I could use them as a quick reference when I went to assess their work later on in the teaching window.
Academic rubrics like this are great and helpful for both teacher and student in that they lay out the expectations for each assignment and help to communicate the important elements that go into that assignment or task. Here’s an example that I found of a wonderful rubric that’s specific for a task and easy for a kid to understand.
iPads for assessment
iDoceo is a grade book, planner, diary, schedule and resource manager all in one app. Its spreadsheet engine will calculate averages as you input your assessment data and it's easy to assess and add grades as you go! You can walk around in "roster" mode, click on a student's picture, enter their grade, and move on! Use to grade and assess any time. You can insert and edit any kind of information for a class, student and semester visually, no more boring spreadsheets. You can even insert picture of students so that you're not just seeing names. I have 500 students, so this function makes everything so much easier! Scroll, expand, filter, export, import and view your information at any time. No internet connection is required to use the app. iDoceo will work with any kind of grading system, you can even create your own. You will not miss your old paper grade book again.
Below you can find screenshots of things that I've noticed just in the last few days. I tried importing a class roster from an Excel spreadsheet that I used last year and it worked perfectly. I think that set up would take a while it'd probably be MUCH faster for a classroom teacher but for those of us who see the whole school it might take a bit. I imagine that the payoff will be incredible!