Like students working in a formative assessment process, teachers implement formative assessment in their classrooms, document, reflect upon, share the results, plan improvements, and make revisions.
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“Does using a rubric for peer and self-assessment help students improve their technique?”
Ms. Maria Comba explored this question with her 5th grade recorder students at Brooklyn PS 247.2/9
As a teacher, Ms. Comba felt she was taking a risk.
“It really affected the way I had to change and refine my teaching practice.”3/9
But the risk paid off well beyond her expectations. Students gained much more than technique, and Ms. Comba’s teaching improved.
“The students really fall into their own.”4/9
With each new lesson, students grew more able to discuss the criteria for their success. They understood what was expected of them and could identify their next step in improvement. As Ms. Comba grew more comfortable sharing criteria with students, she gradually shifted her methodology towards facilitating learning.
“I like that idea… I should break up the idea of ‘run out of breath’ and ‘smooth’ sounds.”5/9
The value of modeling became clearer to student musicians: their focus had intensified, and they grew increasingly able to make evidence-based observations in real time.
Ms. Comba found ways to make student listening a shared responsibility. This also made it possible to help her students compare what they’d heard, and discuss its relevance to the rubric.6/9
Students became adept at assessing one another’s playing, and giving and receiving feedback. They placed themselves on the rubric, and grew aware of what and how to improve.
Their achievement became visible to them.
Ms. Comba discovered she could rely on students to have productive discussions and track their own progress. Their notes made the planning and implementation of her next lessons and small-group arrangement much easier.7/9
Learning became more meaningful for students.
Students continuously set new goals for themselves in an ongoing process of self-improvement. Motivation had visibly increased, and they had gained greater independence. As her students took more command of their own, and each other’s learning, Ms. Comba became more accessible to all of her students – 700 across five grades.8/9
After the initial year, Ms. Comba was able to reflect. Formative assessment, she realized, was not far off from how she or any teacher typically leads a class. The difference was in using the rubric, and other tools and procedures in order to formalize her practice.
With that, teaching became more child-centered, and students more engaged in their own learning9/9
Recorder Technique: Peer & Self AssessmentWith Maria Comba, Brooklyn PS 247
“It really affected the way I had to change and refine my teaching practice… The students really fall into their own.”–
Maria Comba, Music Instructor
My upper elementary students used the Recorder Performance Rubric to improve their fingering, reading of rhythms, phrasing, and their ability to execute smooth sounding tones on the recorder. The rubric guided their peer feedback and self-assessment which helped develop the students' ensemble and solo playing skills. My goal was to help students become more proficient recorder performers in an ensemble.