Assessment is a crucial component of any classroom because it is the how teachers ensure that students are reaching the desired learning outcomes. A variety of formative assessments gather information throughout a unit of study and provide information to the teacher in order to influence instruction. Summative assessments are completed at the end of a unit of study to assess ultimate understanding of material. According to Bauer (2014), it is important to provide feedback to students and parents regarding all forms of assessment so that students can make any necessary changes to improve their learning. However, this is often very challenging for music teachers to accomplish because we often have a much larger number of students than the typical classroom teacher. For instance, an elementary music teacher may have several hundred students that he/she only sees once a week. An ensemble director may also be working with several large ensembles every day, making individual assessment challenging. Many technological tools are available for use within the classroom that can make individual assessment, collection and analysis of assessment data, and relaying of assessment data to students and families much more manageable.
Bauer (2014) presents several technologies that can aid with assessment in the music classroom. One such technology is Google Forms. I have used Google Forms frequently to create surveys, but never as a form of assessment. However, I know how easy Google Forms are to use, and I love the idea of implementing the tool in my classroom. Instead of a typical paper and pencil quiz, a similar assessment can be created by the teacher online using Google Forms. This will automatically gather student responses in one spot and provide numerical and visual data immediately to the teacher. Bauer also suggests using Flubaroo to automatically grade assessments via Google Forms. In a 1-1 classroom, students could all complete a Google Forms assessment simultaneously during music class. If a 1-1 environment is not available, the teacher may be able to have students complete the quiz one or two at a time using classroom computers while conducting a normal class or rehearsal. Students would also be able to complete Google Forms assessments at home.
Bauer (2014) also suggests the use of “clickers” as a formative assessment tool (p. 136). This technology allows students to respond individually to a multiple choice question that is projected for the class. Answers can be projected in real time, which provides immediate feedback to students and allows the teacher to quickly address any misunderstandings. Data is also collected for teacher use and grading. There are various technologies available to implement this. One that I have heard of is Socrative, which is a free app that turns students’ cell phones into clickers and collects assessment data for the teacher. This seems like a wonderful tool, but it does require each student to have a personal device, which may not be realistic. Plickers is another assessment tool available to educators. According to their website, “Plickers is a powerfully simple tool that lets teachers collect real-time formative assessment data without the need for student devices” (www.plickers.com). Instead, students hold up a card that looks similar to a QR code to provide their response. This visual information is then analyzed by the teacher’s app on a smartphone or tablet to provide instant assessment data. Although I have yet to use either of these tools in my own classroom, they come highly recommended to me. I absolutely plan on incorporating one or both of them into my chorus classroom this coming year.
Google Forms, Socrative, and Plickers are only a few of the many assessment tools available using classroom technology. Many school systems also now have an online gradebook that allows students and parents to log in to check their progress throughout the course of a semester. The combination of these tools makes assessment data more manageable for teachers and more accessible for families than it’s ever been before.
Bauer, W. I. (2014). Music learning today: digital pedagogy for creating, performing, and responding to music. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
(2016) Plickers. Retrieved from www.plickers.com
(2016) Socrative. Retrieved from www.socrative.com