Monday, July 18, 2016

Challenge: Motivation in the Classroom

Challenge: Motivation in the Classroom

One of the biggest challenges that we have as educators is motivating students to learn.  Teaching unlike other professions involves a diverse group of people who come from different backgrounds and progress in their learning at different rates.  As teachers we are up for the challenge!  The million dollar question is how do we overcome that challenge.

I recently moved from a high school band director position to a middle school band director position.  I still have the same expectations of my students as I did as a high school director, but the way that I motivate students has drastically changed.  I have just climbed to one summit and discovered that the journey has just begun.  So now what?  What are the ways that I can motivate students in order to help them understand their full potential and reach their goals?  Intrinsic motivation.

Wonderful article of actual activities to do in the classroom to build intrinsic motivation.  Thank you David Palank.

Strategies to Build Intrinsic Motivation  

Intrinsic motivation is the "buy-in" for students.  Students find this type of motvation creates environments that are interesting and rewarding.  There are three main ideas about intrinsic motivation that I refer to often in class taken from Daniel Pink's book Drive: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

Autonomy can be a challenge in the classroom, especially with a class as large as a band ensemble.  It can be done though.  By using the learning goals and concepts, students are able to discover their own ways to figure out how to achieve.  This gives them ownership over what they are accomplishing, and enables the teacher to have a clear idea of level of profiency the student is at.

Mastery is something that I use often in the band classroom.  Mastery is not a complete understanding of everything in the world.  I see mastery as a complete understanding of a given topic.  Students are asked to play the correct pitches throughout a selection of music.  Did they get the rhythms all correct?  Perhaps not, but by mastering the pitches, they were able to celebrate their accomplishments, thus building a strong sense of confidence and a preparedness to go after the next challenge.

Purpose is where we as educators connect our students to the real world.  Often in music the real world exists instantaneously as we are in preparation for a real world concerts.  Students have an authentic experience as they showcase their skills to an audience.  I often Livestream concerts has well to create an even broader real-world experience.  The connection of the performance to purpose gets the students discussing other reasons as to why we are working towards particular goals.  Understanding purpose increases student motivation to work hard and achieve!

Side Note...
"I am motivated by fun!!!" Let's agree what fun is in our classroom.

Success/Having Fun: Learning takes active participation. Through learning there are many exciting and fun discoveries we make. Having fun no longer is a passive activity on the surface. It happens when we achieve our goals and objectives. Through contributing to our own success we are able to come to a new understanding of "having fun!"

Final Thoughts

In accordance with Daniel Pink, we as people have natural desires to learn, to create, and to make the world a better place.  By tapping into these natural tendencies in the classroom, we are able to increase intrinsic motivation thereby opening up endless opportunities for our students to achieve.

Onward and inward...

*Definition links reference: Oxford Dictionary

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Genius Hour and Standards-Based Grading in the Instrumental Music Classroom: Research

Genius Hour and Standards-Based Grading in the Instrumental Music Classroom: Research

I am currently working on a Genius Hour Project involving standards-based grading in the instrumental music classroom.  My goal is to create an effective tool that can be used for self-assessment.  The tool is to be tangible and practical in the allotted time for the class.  It is my hope that students will strengthen their understanding of what they do in the classroom (perform/rehearse) with what they are being assessed on in a standards-based environment.  This blog post will give an overview of three research sources I have used in order to come to develop a successful self-assessment tool.   The first will outline the content used to create/perform understanding of a given concept.  The second will discuss successful assessment tools used in the instrumental music setting.  The final source will tie in standards-based assessment with the first two sources.  Onward we go!

The first source I will be using in my research is the Tradition of Excellence Comprehensive Method Book 2 Conductors Score.  This will directly correlate with the exercises and the pieces that the students will perform in order to learn the concepts.  The book also offers a scope and sequence that will work as a guide to be sure all necessary concepts are self-assessed in correlation with the appropriate skill level of the students.  This source will offer proficiency of standards addressed in class (not proficiency of attributes).

The proficiency of standards will offer 2 main categories with which the students will self-assess each week.  The first will correlate directly with the Musicianship Standards.  Students will identify which standards are being addressed in a given activity.  The second will focus on the Objectives for Student Learning.  These are the concepts with which the students will label themselves in accordance with a 1 - 4 at what level of proficiency they are at.  Based on the area of study (and week), other concepts may be thrown into the assessment for additional reflection.

Reference: Tradition of Excellence by Bruce Pearson and Ryan Nowlin

The second source I will be using comes from Frederick Burrack from Kansas State.  He has written in-depth about band programs and student portfolios.  Within the student portfolio, self-assessment is a major component.  While most of the information in the source discusses the portfolio is "analogue" form, it is my desire to innovate wit this resource to bring the concepts and ideas to 21st Century Learning.

The assessment tool I am developing will use components and formats that Burrack mentions.  From the portfolio piece I plan on adapting his concepts of the assessment and put them into a format that will be both tangible and practical in my band classroom setting.  This includes replacing the paper form of assessment with the Google Form medium.  Reading through the research is helping me to make sure students are held accountable for their musical learning goals.

There are four main areas which are addressed in the research.  Once again as in the the previous source (Tradition of Excellence), this source will address the proficiency of standards versus the proficiency of the attributes.  The first area is the assigning of a specific scale, etude and section from piece being assessed.  The second area is where the student will record the assigned piece (as many times as they would like to get their best recording).  The third area is where the student will asses their performance.  The final area is where the student will submit the recording and assessment to the teacher in order to verify proficiency on a given learning standard.  All these concepts will correlate directly with the tool I am developing.  While perhaps not in the same format, similar activities will be present.

Reference: Frederic Burrack, Developing Students Portfolios in your Band Program

The third source of my research comes from a presenter at the First 2016: The Institute for Better Learning on June 16, 2016 in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin.  The title of the session was called "Re-defining Accountability."  The presenter's name was Tom Schimmer.  He addressed the idea of assessment versus grading.  What does this look like and what does it mean in a school system?

Standards-based grading looked dividing up the learning into two areas, proficiency of attributes and proficiency of standards.  The idea of accountability related to the underlying concept that essential learning must be made mandatory.  Traditional grading lumped attributes and standards into one category.  The re-defining of accountability refers to empowering the students to know what the essential learning goals are and where they are at on the journey.  This is one of the main reasons why I have chosen to develop a self-assessment tool in my classroom.

Reference: First 2016: The Institute for Better LearningTom Schimmer

Bringing together the ideas of quality concepts and content, proven instrumental music assessment, and a definition of standards-based grading in my research has given me resources which will enable me to develop a tangible tool that is grounded in depth and innovation.