Stephanie Lewis - Music & Education Talks expert

Marking criteria for teaching and learning

Practical "criteria" strategy for music teachers

In this new video dedicated to music teachers, Stephanie suggests the concept of "sharing marking criteria with students" along with very useful and practical accompanying material that you can use for your own music class.

Released on April 3, 2019

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi, there. I'm Stephanie, together with Virtual Sheet Music. In my last few videos, I've dealt with the importance of a balanced musical diet, which includes performance, listening discussion, theory, and composition. I've also treated the idea of using themes to provide a context-based learning environment. Now, I hope I've made it clear that it is the music that comes first, never the theme. Hence, in your own experimentation or when working with colleagues of other subjects, always be prepared to reject themes that might end up reducing music down to a theme-linked song. I've so seen this time and time again. That's not good enough for you as a professional, and it's certainly not good enough for your students. Now, if you haven't seen these videos, please do pop over and take a look. You may be able to add to the discussion, always a good thing. And of course, there are freebie handouts that you might just find useful too.

Now, when doing these videos, I talked about sharing marking criteria with students so that expectations and standards are understood. Today, I want to quickly expand upon this idea, also giving some handouts as a point of reference. Firstly, having different criteria to mark the various areas of music, or indeed any subject, makes it extraordinarily easy to grade a student, the benchmarks are already in place. It is also much easier to avoid the pitfalls of bias that every teacher, no matter how objective, has to grapple with. External standards put distance between you and the pupil, and you can get to the heart of the matter. Another reason for criteria is that students can mark themselves, and if the criteria is concise, then their own marks, I bet, will correspond with yours. Students become more responsible for the work that they produce, and they can be more strategic in their approach, as they know concretely the steps needed for optimizing overall performance. Finally, objective criteria can make short shrift of parents whose opinions of their child's musical worth differ considerably from yours. I've said already it puts distance between you and the pupil, allowing for greater objectivity. Marks are nothing personal, and even the besotted parent can not object to a system that treats all on the same lines.

Below, I have put 4 criteria for students of elective music standards, so 14, 15 years plus. So we've got performance, composition, understanding, and critical thinking. Now, the criteria's innate simplicity facilitates application, for you when marking and assessing, but above all for your students. For younger pupils, it's simply a question of using these criteria "à la variations on a theme," no pun intended. However, I have left two addition examples for you for specific classroom tasks, age groups, that may help in providing a springboard for what you personally do in class. These are criteria-easy keyboard, ages 11, 12, and criteria composition, roughly ages 9, 10. I have also included a criteria which allows for us to recognize our many wonderful students who, nonetheless, are about as musical as a piece of wood put aside for a Strad violin. Organized, motivated, interested, homework always on time, yes, these are the students who deserve recognition, even if, at a musical level, there's not much hope. Below, you'll find this particular aspect under application and engagement.

What can I say? Happy marking. But more importantly, enjoy how this tool can unite both you and your students, and lead them to a more responsible outlook as regards the work they do with you in and out of class. See you next time, bye.
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sylvester on March 17, 2020 @4:43 am PST
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