Matt-Gerry_webThis weekend I read a very good article from Scott Seifried on the website about assessments. In his article, Scott has lots of great ideas about testing in guitar class including using rubrics, a graduated grading scale, and having students grade another student before they take their test. I always love reading how other teachers run their guitar classes and gaining new insights from their teaching techniques.

Most weeks in my classroom I grade very similarly to Scott. I use a rubric, and try to get to every student in the class into a one on one testing situation. Much like Mr. Seifried, I find the benefits of being able to get to know my students and provide encouragement during and after the testing process is well worth the time it takes from classroom instruction!

An issue that I deal with in my school is my classroom. It is approx. 15’X30′ and so all attempts I have made to have my students “come to my desk” to test while the rest of class is practicing have produced less than desirable results. It’s just too loud! I’ve tried having the student testing to be plugged into an amp. It helps, but it’s still hard to carry on a conversation with the student. THE SOLUTION! Most testing days (we usually test every Friday) we go outside. Students are allowed to sit with a partner and work on materials as I go around and grade everyone. It works great….except on a week like this week where we received a little over a foot of snow….or when it’s raining….or windy….OKAY….it’s not ideal. We’re at the mercy of the weather.

So I am beta testing a new way to assess my students this week. There is a fabulous free teaching tool called edmodo. Edmodo is like a facebook for school. Students join your class and you can post assignments for them to complete. They can comment on those assignments, ask questions both to other students and the teacher, but what I am buying into is they can upload assignments straight to the website, including .mp3 files.

So the plan is this…

I am going to have students go out into the hallway during class where I will have two laptop computers setup. They will record their test using a free recording software. They save their file and upload it into edmodo. Once the assignment is in edmodo, I can grade each test straight from the website. They are all in one place! All 50 students. The website allows me to comment on their test and tell the student the things they need to improve.

I am also going to try and let students turn in their test from home as an option as well. They could record and upload it from a home computer…or even record their test from their cell phone and upload the .mp3 file to the website. I want my students to succeed, and for some, being able to test from their room at home might diffuse their nerves so I can accurately see where they are at.

Will this new form of testing replace my one on one testing…absolutely not! But for weeks when the weather does not cooperate, or we’re too busy prepping for a gig to take the time to test… I am hoping that this can be the solution.

By the way, did I say edmodo is free. Yeah. It’s free. So even if I were their spokesman, seeing that it’s free the couldn’t pay me anything anyway. I can tell you I am sold on the technology! Crossing my fingers for the beta test this week. I’ll update you on the results.