Help! How Much is Too Much?
I’m blogging with three different music performance classes. Band I - an entry level high school performance class, Band II for our more experienced high school musicians, and Jazz Ensemble – which is sort of a Band III and it’s reserved only for students who can pass an audition and are very serious about music and music performance. I have students use their blog mainly as a practice journal, but we also mix in some other kinds of posts – research posts about the composers and genres of music that we are performing and “talk about music” posts where the students have to either critique or describe the aesthetics of music. I’ve come up with a little rubric and guide for the students – so they can work independently and at their own pace. It works on a little point system – they need to have a certain amount of points by the end of the grading period.
The Assignment (Should You Choose to Accept It)
The Jazz Ensemble blog assignment has five categories: Critique and Self Assessment, Aesthetics, Research, Blogging Community, and Technical Features. Students must choose at least one assignment from each column and have 10 points total by the end of the grading period. We have some students in the class who are “honors” music students and are members of our Arts Academy – they must complete 15 points.
Band I & II have the same exact blogging assignment except that Band II students need to complete 7 points and Band I students only need to complete 5 points.
Basically it’s set up so that a student will have to write weekly about either his/her own practice at home or a school rehearsal. I myself also write and reflect on each rehearsal each week. Then – on their own schedule – students will need to complete at least one assignment from the other columns. I tried to mix up the types of assignments so there is something there for every student – regardless of their level of performance or grade level (I have freshman through seniors in each class!)
Of course I also have a rubric – I grade students on eight different criteria:
- Critique – Students’ skill at self-critique, using specific performance & music elements – proper vocabulary – good revisions & practice plans – and connections.
- Aesthetics – Describing music using specific music elements, proper music vocabulary
- Research – Does the student cite her sources? Have good writing quality?
- Writing Quality – overall proper writing, no blog-speak, etc.
- Community – Does the student link? Comment?
- Creative & Tech – Does the student add personality to their blog? Add technical features? Photos? Videos?
- Organization – Does the student use tags and categories to organize their work?
- Frequency – Does the student blog weekly?
The End Game