Monday, August 1, 2016

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

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

Standards-based assessment and genius hour coincide with what George Couros is describing in his book The Innovator's Mindset.  There are three primary examples that I'm going to discuss in relation to Couros in this final reflection for my genius hour project titled Genius Hour and Standards Based Assessment in the Instrumental Music Classroom.  The first is Couros's concept of "inside the box," innovating using the resources that we already have in our classroom.  The second is about how we as educators create new learning opportunities for our students in our classroom by implementing digital technology.  Finally I will discuss the concept of empowerment and how genius hour and standards-based assessment engages our students in an empowered learning environment.  Innovation and standards-based assessment both share the common theme of bettering learning in our classroom.

"Think Inside the Box"

As educators we often find the want to always reach for the newest and so-called greatest thing out there.  By thing I mean resource, poster, method book, recording track, etc...  We also use the lack of new tools as an excuse of why we can't produce what we desire.  Many times the resources for the greatest success are already at our finger tips.  With my particular genius hour project I wanted to use what my students and I already had at our disposal.  We are fortunate enough in my district to have a one-to-one Ipad program in our district.  This type of thinking is what Couros is writing out when we says "think inside the box."

All students currently have Ipads at their disposal.  I have also used (as well as other teachers) the Google Apps associated with my project such as Google Forms and You Tube Capture.  The mediums for success are not new to the students.  The thinking is!

Students are now being asked to use their resources and devices to demonstrate what they have learned in a particular week.  This includes all of the concepts associated with their method book, learning targets, and state standards as well.  The resources are already present, the self-assessment and standards-based thought process is what we have added to the equation.  Students are now increasing their learning due to resources "inside the box."

Creating New Learning Opportunities

Status quo is not in the vocabulary of an innovative teacher and leader.  This is discussed in chapter 9 of The Innovators's Mindset.  Innovation is setup to create better learning and in order to get better continual change must be present.  Digital technology has been a re-invention of the pen and paper.  The possibilities seem endless when implementing technology with better learning.  My goal in presenting a standard-based self-assessment tool to my students was to create a tangible and practical method which was new and productive.  I hope to have success!

The new learning opportunity I have created puts the ownership of understanding in their hands.  There is no longer a question as to what they are needing to learn.  The question now is what level of proficiency is the learning at.  I want to set a precedent that we'll get there, but we must have a self-assessed sense of where we are at in order to know where we are going.  Standards-based assessment is personalized and not standardized.   Each individual can focus within the given concept at their pace.  The job of the educator is to use innovation (and a bit a technology) to engage the learner and reach the level of proficiency (and beyond).

Empowering the Learner

I have always been a fan of giving my students ownership in what they do.  The challenge is to help learners understand that with ownership comes responsibility.  My hope is that through self-assessment and the standards-based thought process I will be able to empower my student to take risks.

So often we give students too much information to focus on.  This gives even teachers anxiety.  Through my project I wanted to simplify the concepts and expectations in order to give students the opportunity to take risks and engage in the learning rather than questioning what they were learning.

As educators and leaders sometimes we just need to listen, let go, and collaborate with our students on learning.  As I implement this project into my classroom I hope to be surprised and impressed by the learning capabilities of my students.

Final Thoughts

As educators and school leaders we are always striving to find better ways to engage our students in productive learning.  With standards-based assessment being integrated into districts all over the world and the continuous implementation of technology in the classroom, my project offers learning innovation that is both tangible and practical in the educational environment.  I look forward to putting standards-based self-assessment into action!