Instruments, Orff, Rhythm, Singing, Teacher Ideas

Performance Based Testing

This week I have been starting my beginning of the year music assessments. I’m Ohio, and in my district, we have to complete Student Learning Ovjective assessments. Luckily, I get to create my own test for these. My principal and colleagues have to review the tests and approve them, but it is nice because I can tailor it to my curriculum and my teaching. I do a 3 part test for my students; singing performance, instrument perormace, and written test.

Choosing what to assess is important, but that is for another her time. This post is all about HOW I do the assessing.

Some of my Singers from my group!

I’m second grade my students rotated between 3 “stations” of assessments (singing, instruments, and rhythm writing). I ran the singing station having students sing either a solo or duet for a simple song. I have them the choice of solo or duet, if they did a duet they had to sing the song 2 times so I could concentrate on each voice each time.

Working on their Rhythm Worksheet

The rhythm writing station has students using manipulatives to fill out a rhythm writing worksheet. I teach half notes, time signatures, and using bar lines in 2nd grade so this is what my rhythm writing test consisted of.  Students had to pick 4 apples that I had written rhythms on; some had half notes some did not.  Then they needed to draw the rhythms into empty boxes on the worksheet.  After that they have to add bar lines where necessary depending on what the time signature says. Finally, there is a 5th box where they have to write their own rhythm phrase based on the time signature given.

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Because this is a pre-test, and I want them to do WAY better at the end of the year, I am ok that they don’t know what a half note is or how to separate beats based on the time signature.  These are things we are going to work on the entire year so that when they do the post-test in the spring they are amazing at it.  For my post-test I use the same format for the worksheet, it is just related to a different song so we don’t use apples we use a spring based idea like flowers or raindrops.


Then we had the instrument playing station. This was the hardest one to explain and have the kids be in charge of, but they did ok. Two students played what I asked of them on the instruments, while the other students stood next to them singing the song.  For 2nd grade they were singing Apple Tree and playing the Steady Beat along with the singers.  One of the singers held an iPad and recorded the steady beat players.  Then they rotated in a circle; 1 instrument player moved to the singing group, #2 instrument player moved to the #1 spot, videographer moved to the #2 instrument spot and all the singers moved down, with one of them becoming the new videographer:

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Playing, Singing, and Recording

Then at night I would watch the students play their instrument part.  I had the students play the steady beat 2 times each, that way in case it wasn’t perfect the first time they had another chance at it.

This is a great way to assess instrument playing in a station/center when you are doing other things.  You can do steady beat assessments or even melodic phrases.  The students had fun videotaping each other which I believe helped them not be as stressed out, as they might have been if I was standing there watching them.

We rotated through the centers so that each students did each center within a music class.  This helped me out planning wise, because I only lost one day to testing rather than multiple days if I had chosen to administer all the parts myself.  I did this same sort of testing with my older students as well and it worked even better!

I will updated and add more assessment ideas as the school year goes on, and we can have that debate about what to assess also 😉

Have a Fabulous Day!


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