Assessment is a big part of teaching. Without assessment, we don’t know what to teach (at least, we shouldn’t). We must constantly monitor and adjust our teaching to keep learning on track. Formative assessment and teaching are directly linked; neither can function effective or purposefully without the other.
A common approach to assessment these days is thinking about assessment FOR learning, assessment AS learning, and assessment OF learning. But how many of us really understand what those are and how we use them? Here’s a quick run-down.
Assessment FOR learning gives feedback to the students about what they have done well and what they could do to improve. An element of formative assessment, it gives the same type of feedback to the teacher. Students can ask their own questions, try out their own ideas, make their own connections, and discover their own misunderstandings. This assessment is an essential part of classroom practice.
An example of assessment FOR learning would be exit tickets asking students to demonstrate their understanding.Assessment AS learning is also a kind of formative assessment, but it moves into the next step: working on how to move the learning forward. Here is where students will self-assess, monitor their progress, assess their peers, and set learning goals. This encourages metacognition and gets students taking responsibility for their learning.
An example of assessment AS learning is having students reflect in a learning journal with a prompt like, “Next week, I will focus on…,” or “I will know I have achieved my goal if…”
Assessment OF learning is what we usually think of as summative assessment. The majority of your assessment needs to be formative, informing and steering the learning throughout the unit, so the summative assessment is just one task that confirms—and provides evidence of—what you already know.
An example of assessment OF learning might be a checklist or an “authentic task” wherein students apply their new understandings.
The internet is full of good (and bad) assessment ideas. Most of them are aimed at classroom teaching—literacy and maths, primarily—but if you read through some of the best ideas, you will find that they can be tweaked to fit your music curriculum if you add a little creative thinking.