IBA 2014 Reflection

This years Iowa Bandmasters Association Conference was one of the most educational for me. Lots of great clinics and performances by outstanding groups. I wanted to take a bit to reflect on the different things I attended to better ingrain many of the things I learned. Continue reading


Reflection on Formative Assessment

In the past several days, I have been reading a bit of Shawn Cornally’s blog, ThinkThank Thunk. I began with his second post back in February 2010 on Standards-Based Grading. At the time, Shawn was a math/science/programming teacher at Solon High School in Iowa. He experimented with implementing standards-based grading practices in his classrooms and blogged quite a bit about his experiences. He has several articles about standards-based grading, calculus, physics, and a variety of other topics. Shawn is now the Headmaster of Iowa Big Ideas Group, a competency based high school in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Many of Shawn’s post on Standards-Based Grading got me thinking about what I am currently doing in my Instrumental Music 10 course (10th Grade Band), Music Fundamentals course (non-AP Music Theory), and brass lessons in terms of implementation of standards-based practices. As we approach the summer and a time to plan out what next year will look like, I wanted to lay out my thinking.

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JumpRope – an SBL Grading Tool

This year, I have been experimenting with JumpRope, a standards-based grade book. Our district currently uses Infinite Campus as their student information system to track grades, attendance, behavior, and many other data points (more on how we currently use IC). I am currently on an Infinite Campus sub-committee of our district’s committee on Standards-Based Grading. We are looking at ways we can make the grade book more standards-based learning friendly. While I don’t think we will be able to transition completely to JumpRope, I think our 6-12 Instrumental Music PLC can use it effectively during our lessons next year.
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SmartMusic as an Assessment Tool

SmartMusic is an “interactive music learning software” by MakeMusic, creators of the music notation software Finale. It can pretty accurately assess pitch and rhythm for nearly all of the instruments in the wind band. There is a multitude of method books, solo literature, concert band literature, and jazz band literature in their library with new material being added frequently. SmartMusic can also incorporate files created in Finale. It is an outstanding tool we use daily in our work with students.
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