Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Why Performance Assessment Is Effective...Christmas Concert Season

For the next two weeks, hundreds of student musicians will take to the stage in our district to perform their holiday concerts.  Countless hours have been spent in music classrooms teaching rhythm, pitch, volume control, technique, interpretation and how to blend with a group.  Many more hours have been spent outside the classrooms practicing these skills.   Concerts are a great opportunity for these musical learners to demonstrate their level of mastery of their skills.  They get immediate feedback from their peers, teacher and parents who attend the performance.  Performing a piece of music with a group allows the musicians to compare themselves to those around them.  Finally, performing a piece of music in concert allows a musician to apply all of their knowledge of rhythm, pitch, form and interpretation to a real world situation.

We are not all musicians, but all students can benefit from the opportunity to take the knowledge they are building in a class and apply it to a real world scenario.  This can be simple, like using math knowledge of measurement to make a fall craft project or using persuasive writing techniques to write a letter to the editor. Performance Assessment can also be done on a larger scale as students develop their own research projects, propose service learning opportunities or work to solve real world problems.   One group of high school science students in Columbus took what they learned in chemistry and created a simple water filtration system that could be used by earthquake victims.  Students from Westerly Elementary in our own district worked with local businesses to create a rain barrel project.

As we move toward aligning to the common core curriculum, we need to also consider ways to integrate performance based learning and assessment, and service learning into our classrooms.  By giving students the opportunity to apply what they learn to real world situations, we not only reinforce their understanding of the concepts, but we give them the chance to see how their skills can benefit people in their community.

Resources for Performance Based Learning and Assessment and Service Learning:
National Clearing House for Service Learning
North Olmsted SITES Program
Performance Assessment Ideas - Science
Performance Assessment Ideas - Math
Teacher's Guide To Performance Based Learning and Assessment. K. Michael Hibbard et. al. ASCD Publications.
NETS-S Performance Tasks - Technology integration tasks. Developed by the Georgia Dept of Educ.
Jon Mueller Authentic Task Toolbox
Performance Task Research - Lerner.org

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