I am currently focusing on understanding effective assessment methods and would welcome any advice or feedback.
As a new music teacher in formal SEN education, I have had a lot of ‘catching up’ to do in my new role.
Firstly getting to know the individual students and their interests, abilities, likes and dislikes, and nearly 100 names!
Devising new SEN-specific schemes of work, and adapting and amending these as we have gone along
Developing new material, and together we have tried new activities, enabling me to learn a little more about methods of delivery that work and those that don’t work as well
Fine tuning lesson plans, and in particular focusing on objectives and methods for assessment
I was surprised when I investigated the Music Curriculum that this year there is no formal curriculum set out, the new Music Curriculum apparently arrives Sept 2014. I gave my schemes of work an overall framework, beginning with activities that allowed me to use my strengths and to get to know the students, and then covering a range of musical ‘focus’ e.g. World music, Music for Dance, Cultural Celebrations, Graphic Scores, etc. After the first half term, I responded to the needs of the students and tried to tie in with any key topics being studied by the classes, where possible.
Assessment measures and methods
Identifying development from individual targets - Music lesson can help develop individual skills and personal targets: For example, enhance ability to choose using eye movement, interact positively with others, work independently. Knowing the students’ targets can help to direct activities to enhance the opportunity to develop these skills
Identifying musical skills – With such a range of individual abilities and challenges I felt ‘daunted’ by devising assessment methods for measuring the development of musical skills.
I investigated guidelines for assessment including the ‘P levels’ system. I found this a little confusing as, for some of my classes with PMLD, there were a lot of objectives that were too complicated or irrelevant. It was a bit overwhelming! I included a list of P levels in my SoW for each class, but in truth wasn’t really sure they were totally relevant.
I was asked by the school to develop a list of musical skills that can be assessed. For example: Rhythm skills, aural skills and specific instrumental skills. This helped me to focus on specific skills and activities that supported the process of developing these skills.
Discussion with others
From an observed lesson I was able to identify a list of simpler lesson objectives that were more ‘focused’. E.g. Being able to stop together, keeping a beat with the pulse, responding to musical stimulus with vocalisation, using a ‘switch’ to take part, playing guitar with some accuracy.
Key thoughts so far
1. Discussing with others: Very helpful to discuss assessment with others and observations are stressful but helpful
2. Having clear and simple objectives: Very clear and focused objectives such as ‘copy rhythm’ or ‘stop together’ are helpful
3. Including these simple objectives in planning helps to focus the assessment of student’s progress
I am looking forward to spending a day shadowing a music teacher in January, in another SEN school in the East Midlands. The school has been rated outstanding by OFSTED and the music teacher has a great deal of experience of music education in SEN schools. The teacher felt that a day focusing on the area of assessment of skills within music lessons would be a useful exercise for both of us and I am hoping this will help to develop my skills and focus my aims and objectives to ensure more purposeful lessons in all of my different musical work, particularly in my role with the Musical Inclusion Team at NMPAT.