A Standards-Referenced Instrumental Music Program: Music Standards

On October 23, I began a blog post trying to collect my thoughts around our work in standards over the past four years. As I have organized (and reorganized) those thoughts, the post has evolved into plans for a presentation at the 2017 Iowa Bandmasters Association conference as well as a companion website of “how” we did our work in standards. This is the third in a series of posts detailing the “how.” The first two post detail our district’s process for curriculum review and looking at the Iowa Core Curriculum.

In 1994, the then Music Educators National Conference (MENC), adopted the following music content standards (numbers) and achievement standards (letters)

In 2014, the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards published new National Core Arts Standards for dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts. The NCCAS developed an excellent document detailing their work entitled A Conceptual Framework for Arts Learning. To summarize:

  • The Artistic Processes were identified from the 1997 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Arts assessment and definitions were expanded.
    • Creating: Conceiving and developing new artistic ideas and work.
    • Performing (dance, music, theatre): Realizing artistic ideas and work through interpretation and presentation.
    • Presenting (visual arts): Interpreting and sharing artistic work.
    • Producing (media arts): Realizing and presenting artistic ideas and work.
    • Responding: Understanding and evaluating how the arts convey meaning.
    • Connecting: Relating artistic ideas and work with personal meaning and external context.
  • Anchor Standards “describe the general knowledge and skill that teachers expect students to demonstrate throughout their education in the arts.”
  • Performance Standards “are discipline-specific (dance, media arts, music, visual arts, theatre), grade-by-grade articulations of student achievement in the arts PK-8 and at three proficiency levels in high school (proficient, accomplished and advanced). As such, the performance standards translate the anchor standards into specific, measurable learning goals.”
  • Instructional Resources “are provided to support teachers as they build understanding about the new standards and consider multiple ways to implement the standards in their classrooms.”
    • Enduring Understandings “are statements summarizing important ideas and core processes that are central to a discipline and have lasting value beyond the classroom.”
    • Essential Questions “are those that encourage, hint at, even demand transfer beyond the particular topic in which students first encounter them, and therefore, should recur over the years to promote conceptual connections and curriculum coherence.” (based on Wiggins & McTighe, Understanding by Design, ASCD, 2005)
    • Model Cornerstone Assessments as described by Jay McTighe in Understanding by Design:
      • are curriculum embedded (as opposed to externally imposed);
      • recur over the grades, becoming increasingly sophisticated over time;
      • establish authentic contexts for performance;
      • assess understanding and transfer via genuine performance;
      • integrate 21st century skills (e.g., critical thinking, technology use, teamwork) with subject area content;
      • evaluate performance with established rubrics;
      • engage students in meaningful learning while encouraging the best teaching;
      • provide content for a student’s portfolio (so that they graduate with a resume of demonstrated accomplishments rather than simply a transcript of courses taken).
    • Process Components “are the actions artists carry out as they complete each artistic process.”
      • Creating: Imagine; Plan and Make; Evaluate and Refine, and Present
      • Performing: Select; Analyze; Interpret; Rehearse, Evaluate, and Refine; and Present
      • Responding: Select; Analyze; Interpret; and Evaluate
    • Glossaries

I would highly recommend digging into the National Core Arts Standards website. It goes far more in depth than I can or will in this post. Below are a few infographics to help give a better idea of the standards.

The resource that we will focus on comes from their identified discipline of Traditional and Emerging Ensembles. There are also resources for PreK-8 General Music, Harmonizing Instruments, Composition and Theory, Music Technology, Dance, Media Arts, Theatre, and Visual Arts. Each resource takes each Artistic Process (Creating, Performing/Presenting/Producing, Responding, and Connecting) with their corresponding Anchor StandardsEnduring Understandings, and Essential Questions and aligns them to Process Components to generate Performance Standards at different proficiency levels. For example:

The words bolded in red are defined in the available glossaries.

The words bolded in red are defined in the available glossaries.

As we begin to delve into the National Core Arts Standards, I will update the blog with the work we do.

State Standards

States have developed their own standards for music education prior to, out of, or in reaction to the National Core Arts Standards. As part of the creation of the new standards, the NCCAS reviewed several states’ arts standards including Colorado (2009), Florida (2009), Michigan (2011), New Jersey (2009), New York City (2007), North Carolina (2005), Tennessee, and Washington. A simple Google search will turn up results from other states.

In our state of Iowa, the Department of Education has chosen to align the Fine Arts with the Iowa Core Universal Constructs. From their website for the Fine Arts:

The Fine Arts Alignment with the Iowa Core Universal Constructs documents were written to illustrate how fine arts teachers can align their instruction to the universal constructs from the Iowa Core. By showing connections between the universal constructs and fine arts, these documents demonstrate how fine arts support the implementation of the Iowa Core. Fine arts are particularly well-suited in supporting students in developing the universal constructs important for success in the 21st Century.

They provide companion documents for Drama and Theatre, General Music, Instrumental-Vocal Music, and Visual Arts. I took a deeper look in my previous post on the Iowa Core.

UPDATE: February 16, 2017. The Iowa Department of Education announced today a team to develop fine arts standards for schools. While I wish a member from our vertical team was able to contribute to this work, I am excited to see what comes from this Fine Arts Standards Adoption Team.

Next, we will look at what we developed as part of our previous curriculum review process in 2012-2013.

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Collecting Data in Year 4

Our Vertical PLC is doing things a bit differently for this coming school year (16-17). I’ve written about what we did in Year 1 (13-14), Year 2 (14-15), and Year 3 (15-16) as well as a presentation at the 2016 Iowa Bandmasters Association Conference. Part of our decision to change in the coming year was out of a desire to better communicate student progress in Infinite Campus to students and parents. Our district has also set the following goal for high schools:

By September 2017, 100% of staff will have aligned their work with academic standards for the course as measured by standards/skills-referenced organization in course gradebooks.By September 2017, 100% of staff will have aligned their work with academic standards for the course as measured by standards/skills-referenced organization in course gradebooks.

Infinite Campus

Our district uses Infinite Campus as a student information system, and I have written about how we have used it in the past. To prevent multiple times of entering data, we are going to forego the use of the Google Form we have used in the past and solely use Infinite Campus. Here is the Google Form we used in the past:

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 10.46.45 AM

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 10.46.45 AM

We are taking these pieces and turning them into categories and assignments in Infinite Campus. The categories and assignments with slashes denote differences between the Wind Rubric and Percussion Rubric.

  • Standards
    • Time Signature
    • Key Signature
    • Tonal Center
    • Takadimi Example
    • Scale
    • Tone Quality/Basic Technique
      • Breath Support/Body Position
      • Tone Quality/Stick Motion
      • Technique/Advanced Technique
        • Fingerings/Grip
        • Note Length/Placement
        • Register/Sticking
        • Rhythm
          • Rhythm
          • Tempo
          • Articulation/Style
            • Articulation/Style
            • Expression
              • Expression
              • Posture
                • Posture
                • Preparedness
                  • Preparedness

Each assignment has an inactive (formative) 6 Week, 12 Week, and 18 Week iteration. The assignments in Categories 2-6 also have an active (summative) Overall iteration. Teachers will use the most recent information from the 6-, 12-, and 18-Week assignments for the Overall assignment. Here are some screenshots from Infinite Campus:

Categories

Categories

Assignments

Assignments

Grade Book

Grade Book

Student View

Student View

Pros to this Approach

  •  We can sort the grade book in a few different ways:
    • Sequence/Category: in order displayed above
    • Due Date: puts 6-Week assignments together, then 12-week, 18-week, Overall
    • Communicates progress to teachers, students, and parents
    • Better aligns with standards-referenced grading practices

Cons to this Approach

  • Many more Categories (8 vs. 1) and Assignments (57 vs. 3) then previous years
  • Difficult to copy all Assignment information across classes in different buildings
  • Need to export data to Excel and in to Google Sheets to use AwesomeTable
  • Unsure of how Infinite Campus will deal with multiple teachers logged into the same Grade Book

We are looking forward to testing this out in the next few weeks! We will keep you updated with how this works in practice, how it changes our response to student data, and any changes we make.

Collecting Data in Year 4

Our Vertical PLC is doing things a bit differently for this coming school year (16-17). I’ve written about what we did in Year 1 (13-14), Year 2 (14-15), and Year 3 (15-16) as well as a presentation at the 2016 Iowa Bandmasters Association Conference. Part of our decision to change in the coming year was out of a desire to better communicate student progress in Infinite Campus to students and parents. Our district has also set the following goal for high schools: Continue reading

2015 in Review

A look at all of the blog posts I made in 2015. Not as much as 2014, perhaps a resolution for 2016… Looking back at the posts, it looks like 2015 was a year frustrated by the conversation around educational funding. It was also a year of learning for myself and my PLC in our work to become better teachers for our students. Take a look: Continue reading

Iowa’s School Report Card

One of our Governor’s four goals is the Best Schools in the Nation. As part of his progress towards “world-class schools,” the Governor and the Republican-led House passed an education reform bill in 2013 which led to the creation of the Iowa School Report Card. The Department of Education’s FAQ and Technical Guide have several details about the what, why, and how of the report cards. I’ll briefly summarize: Continue reading

Reflecting on What We Do

This past week, we had several guests from Summit Middle School in Johnston and Lenox Community Schools to discuss our implementation of standards-based learning practices, our use of vertical teaching, and our beginning integration of Chromebooks into our curriculum. We pointed our visitors to our work-in-progress website that provides detailed information about all of the above pieces of our program, and then provided opportunities to observe it in action at our 8th and 9th grade building, as well as with our 6th & 7th grade counterparts across town. It was a great time for us to both celebrate and reflect on how we do what we do with our students, and I wanted to write a little bit about that process. Continue reading

Data-Driven Professional Learning Communities in Instrumental Music

Again, it has been a long time since I posted. We have been busy wrapping up our marching band season with performances at the Southwest Iowa Band Jamboree, ValleyFest Showdown, IHSMA State Marching Festival, and our own Mid-Iowa Band Championship. Mix in conferences, jazz band auditions, an All City performance, honor band auditions, and preparing for the Veterans Day Parade in New York City, and we’ve got a busy life!
Continue reading