Domain 1: Planning and Preparation

For the second week of our class, we focused on Domain 1 from the Danielson Framework. Our discussion as a class revolved around music teachers being evaluated the same as classroom teachers. We also filled out parts of the NAfME Workbook pertaining to Supporting Structures, Program Expectations, and General/Collective Measures in our programs. We also received the following prompt:

Fill out the Relevant Information for each Component (1a, 1b, 1c, 1d, 1e, 1f) found on page 1 of each packet.

Choose one Component from Domain 1: Planning and Preparation, for in-depth study for this week. Develop a narrative that will prove that you know “HOW” to accomplish the criteria contained in the Distinguished or Proficient boxes of the rubric.

In your narrative: Combine the Relevant Information from page 1 with the Elements next to the bulleted points on page 3. Accomplish the criteria in the Rubric on page 3. Feel free to use language from the Possible Music Examples found on page 4.

NAfME Workbook
I will not be posting any of the NAfME Workbook, as it is a published work available for sale on their website. However, I will do my best to describe its contents to offer clarity to my blog posts and to possibly encourage its use as an evaluation tool.

The Workbook begins with a position paper from NAfME regarding the evaluation of music educators. Included with this position paper are some suggestions for the workbook’s use by music educators and evaluators. There are also several appendices with suggested adjudication sheets, NAfME’s Opportunity to Learn Standards, references and resources, and a comparison of four different evaluation frameworks: NAfME, Charlotte Danielson, Robert Marzano, and Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL). Following these appendices is the Ensemble Teacher Evaluation Summary Form. It has several components for the teacher and evaluator to work through collaboratively:

  • Supporting Structures – comparing available resources to the Opportunity to Learn Standards
  • Curricular Goals and Measures – sets goals and means of measuring goals in the Artistic Processes (creating, performing, and responding)
  • Professional Practices – determines Danielson Frameworks to be used in evaluation process
  • Additional Program Expectations and Collective/General Measures – documents any additional expectation in the evaluation process
  • Summary Calculations – synthesizes and weights data from the other components for an aggregate score

After the Ensemble Teacher Evaluation Summary Form are worksheets for each of the twenty-two components of the Danielson Framework. The worksheets ask for:

  • Relevant Information – provided by the teacher to demonstrate completion of the component
  • Summary Notes by Supervisor or Peer
  • Rating – Distinguished, Proficient, Basic, or Unsatisfactory
  • Rubric – provides music specific examples compared to the Danielson Framework

As part of our assignment this week, we were asked to complete the Relevant Information portion of the worksheets for all components in Domain 1:

  • 1a: Demonstrating Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy
  • 1b: Demonstrating Knowledge of Students
  • 1c: Setting Instructional Outcomes
  • 1d: Demonstrating Knowledge of Resources
  • 1e: Designing Coherent Instruction
  • 1f: Designing Student Assessments

We were also asked to select one of the components for more in-depth study. The result of our in-depth study was to develop a narrative proving we know how to accomplish the proficient or distinguished criteria for our selected component.

I chose to focus on Component 1f as this rubric is a main focus of my evaluation for this year through my Individual Teacher Professional Development Plan. I hope to gain a better understanding of the expectations in the Danielson rubric as well as the skills to develop assessments that accurately reflect what my students know and are able to do.

I believe that my vertical PLC and I fall in the proficient to distinguished range because we:

  • Assess most of the instructional outcomes through our approach to the assessment.
  • Have clear assessment criteria and standards.
  • Have a well-developed strategy for using formative assessment and have designed particular approaches to be used.
  • Plan to use assessment results for future instruction for groups of students.

Our vertical PLC is currently in the process of designing student assessments that accurately reflects a student’s knowledge or ability to:

  • Dictate a performed rhythm (using takadimi syllables)
  • Perform a given rhythm with characteristic tone
  • Identify meter
  • Maintain a consistent pulse
  • Breathe in time with proper technique and in musically appropriate places in performance
  • Perform a major scale with characteristic tone
  • Identify tonal centers (“do” for major, “la” for minor) for concert and transposed pitch
  • Perform a tonal sequence with characteristic tone
  • Identify, label, define, and perform dynamics, articulation, and tempo markings
  • Make expressive decisions based on historical context, genre, and style
  • Apply learned musical performance, literacy, and critical thinking skills to the music-making process with various sizes of ensembles.

These skills are a large portion of the power standards our district music educators developed during their previous curriculum review process in 2010. They can be viewed in the Google Doc: Power Standards. Also included in that document, which is still being developed, are our plans for how and when we want to introduce and assess each of those standards across grades 6-12.

For the 2013-2014 school year, each director in our vertical PLC identified assessments they wanted their students to complete over the course of the school year. The vast majority of these assessments were technical exercises selected from materials students used on a frequent basis. In sixth and seventh grade, students performed exercises from their Resource Guide, several pages of technical exercises in Concert Bb, Eb, F, and Ab that were a required part of their rehearsals. In eighth through twelfth grade, students performed technical exercises in a variety of key signatures out of Foundations for Superior Performance, a resource to which every student had access. At the end of the 2013-2014 school year, our vertical PLC recognized that we had gathered a lot of data showing the ability of our student’s to perform these specific technical exercises, but we were not showing their proficiency in several of the standards.

Over the summer of 2014, we began coordinating a new process of assessment. Because of our vertical teaching model, over 80% of our students are receiving lessons from an “expert” on their instrument. These lessons have an instrument-specific method book in each grade level. For sixth and seventh grade, students use Student Instrumental Course, Level 1; for eighth and ninth grade, Student Instrumental Course, Level 2; and for tenth through twelfth grade, Rubank Advanced Volume 1. We chose melodic exercises out of each of these method books that were specific to each instrument. Once every six weeks, a student will perform a designated melodic exercise as part of their lesson. Their performance is assessed using our wind and percussion rubrics. As part of their performance, they are also required to answer a few questions:

  • What is the tonal center of this piece? (Identify “do” or “la”).
  • What is that tonal center in concert pitch? (Transpose for their instrument).
  • Play the corresponding scale for the tonal center. (Perform the corresponding major or harmonic minor scale).
  • Is this time signature simple or compound? (Identify meter).
  • Dictate part of the melody using takadimi syllables. (Identify rhythm).

We teach lessons on a six-day rotation to see our 517 students in grades 6-12. This means that students receive 4-5 lessons each six-week grading period. At the beginning of each grading period, we introduce the melodic etude to the students in their lesson. For many of the students, this etude is kept as an assignment throughout the grading period while they continue to make progress in their method books each lesson. For a few students, it may be the only assignment in their lessons, helping them continue to make progress on the etude in each of the standards. At each lesson, the same wind or percussion rubric is used to formatively assess their performance of the melodic etude and their lesson material. At the final lesson of the grading period, students are summatively assessed on their performance of the melodic etude.

The formative data from each lesson is recorded in a Google Form by each lesson teacher. The form asks for:

  • Student Name (Last, First)
  • Grade/Band (ex. 6th Grade Band – Period 4A, this helps organization)
  • Date of Lesson
  • Tone Quality/Breath Support (Rating of 1-4 or NA)
  • Technique (Rating of 1-4 or NA)
  • Rhythm (Rating of 1-4 or NA)
  • Articulation (Rating of 1-4 or NA)
  • Expression (Rating of 1-4 or NA)
  • Posture (Rating of 1-4 or NA)
  • Preparedness (Rating of 1-4 or NA)
  • Lesson Comments (what occurred during this lesson)
  • Lesson Assignment (what will the student complete for their next lesson)

The Google Form compiles this data in a spreadsheet format that gets reviewed by our vertical PLC at least once every six-week grading period. The summative data from each assessment is recorded in a separate Google Form asking for the same information with the following additional fields, assessing their answers to the additional questions:

  • Time Signature (Yes, No, N/A)
  • Key Signature (Yes, No, N/A)
  • Tonal Center (Yes, No, N/A)
  • Takadimi Example (Yes, No, N/A)
  • Scale (Yes, No, N/A)

After the completion of the first six-week assessment, we are making adjustments for the next six-week assessment. We will record all of the twelve-week assessments using SmartMusic. Our vertical PLC will randomly choose samples from across grade levels and instruments to blindly score using our wind and percussion rubrics. We will then compare how each of us assessed the anonymous recordings to better correlate how our team is assessing students. As we progress further this school year, this will become a standard part of the procedure.

Our school district is transitioning to a standards-based learning model. Our vertical PLC is working to incorporate this throughout the assessment process. The standards-based model is what drove our decision to create and use our wind and percussion rubrics for both formative and summative assessments. We are now working on better ways to communicate this feedback to students and parents. Our district uses Infinite Campus as the student information management system. Currently our grade books are set up like this:

    • Category 1: Assessments (weighted at 100%)
      • Lesson 1 100 points
      • Lesson 2 100 points
      • Assessment 1 100 points
      • Lesson 4 100 points
      • Lesson 5 100 points
      • Lesson 6 100 points
      • Lesson 7 100 points
      • Assessment 2 100 points
      • Lesson 9 100 points
      • Lesson 10 100 points
      • Lesson 11 100 points
      • Assessment 3 100 points
    • Category 2: 21st Century Skills (weighted at 0%)
      • Meeting Deadlines 100 points

The assignments listed in red are considered formative and do not factor in to a student’s overall academic grade. The assignments listed in black do factor into a student’s overall academic grade. Our buildings require a category for behavior (21st Century Skills) that has a weight of 0% and includes a formative assessment for meeting deadlines. It is up to our PLC to determine what it means to meet deadlines in our courses. For now, it reports percentage of lessons attended.

We realize that distilling all of the data from our wind and percussion rubrics down to one data point per lesson or assessment is very confusing to the students and parents. The confusion is likely compounded by the curve we are placing on the rubric:

  1. Not Making Progress 73%
  2. Making Progress 83%
  3. Meets Standard 93%
  4. Exceeds Standard 100%

We are currently looking at changing our grade book setup in Infinite Campus to better reflect the data from each category of the rubric:

  • Category 1: Tone Quality (weighted 20%)
    • Lesson 1 4 marks
    • Lesson 2 4 marks
    • Lesson 3 4 marks
  • Category 2: Technique (weighted 20%, same assignments as Tone Quality)
  • Category 3: Rhythm (weighted 20%, same assignments as Tone Quality)
  • Category 4: Articulation (weighted 20%, same assignments as Tone Quality)
  • Category 5: Expression (weighted 20%, same assignments as Tone Quality)
  • Category 6: 21st Century Skills (weighted 0%, same assignments as above)

In Infinite Campus, we can build the curve into the assignments by using marks instead of points. The grading software will recognize four marks with the appropriate curve we have specified. This would, hopefully, allow much clearer reporting and feedback for student’s and parents.

Originally, we did not look at this different setup of the grade book due to the cumbersome nature of Infinite Campus. Over the summer of 2014, the software went through a major overhaul. It is now much quicker and easier to create, organize, and score assignments. We are discussing as a PLC how we can use this newer version of Infinite Campus to replace the formative Google Form we are using for lessons to reduce the amount of data entry but increase the amount of communication and feedback to students and parents.

Here is a sample of the information communicated to students and parents using the first setup of the grade book:


Here is a sample of the information that would be communicated to students and parents using the second setup of the grade book:


In summation, the assessments we are implementing this year are better aligned with our learning outcomes. Because of the use of our rubrics, our criteria for the assessments are more clearly defined. With our transition to using melodic etudes out of their method books, our assessments are authentic to the work of the ensemble and are providing real-life application. The sequencing of the assessments across the six-week grading period and the correlation of the wind and percussion rubrics to lessons and assessments provides for accurate formative assessment throughout the process. The accurate data from the formative and summative assessments allows our PLC to make decisions about instructions in our lessons and rehearsals. Based on these arguments, our PLC falls in the proficient to distinguished range of Component 1f.


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