Pre Assessement Differentiation

In music class one of the most fundamental concepts to learn is rhythmic lengths and note names. It’s literally the language of music, and without a proper understanding of the letters and grammar of that language we can’t hope to read, write, or communicate effectively in that language. It’s imperative that all students have a basic understanding of these concepts before moving on to any of the more “fun stuff.”

At the beginning of the unit I administer this general pre-assessment that gives me an idea of how much prior knowledge they are bringing into the classroom. This quiz is not graded or timed and students are told that it is just a personal challenge to see how much they already know.

After the pre-assessment the students will be divided into 3 even groups according to their performance on the pre-assessment. The flowchart for each group can be found here:

The Middle 1/3 of students will demonstrate and solidify what they know by creating an artistic representation of the note and rest value trees. This activity pushes the student’s thinking a little further into the realm of abstraction and forces them to really think about the relationships between the values. They will also be assisting the ELL students in practicing this learning. If they complete this challenge early, they will be encouraged to complete more advanced ear training challenges on the provided web link. These challenges take what they know on paper and ask them to identify notes and rests by their sound. Students who find the art project challenging will join the Lower 1/3 group in playing musical flash cards.

The Upper 1/3 of students will take their learning to the next level by completing ear training challenges designed to bring their theoretical knowledge into the realm of the practical. They will then use all of the aural, visual tools and musical resources at their disposal to create a game for the class that tests peers for knowledge in note names, note/rest values, musical symbols, and music history. Since the game is not graded, it is okay to encourage students to research things not yet presented in class and introduce facts and topics that interest them.

The Lower 1/3 of students will engage in two fun activities to help teach and practice the desired skills and knowledge. The first is a challenge to build musical phrases with Lego bricks, each brick sized to coordinate with a note/rest value. This tactile/spatial experience will help solidify the visualization of how musical time is broken down into note/rest lengths. The second activity is a “Simon Says” game on a large mat with a musical staff on it. Students will jump to the appropriate lines and spaces for the note name called out, correcting themselves as they go, and learning how to orient themselves on the musical staff.
These activities completed, they will go on to practice musical flash cards on the web link provided.

Both the Middle and Lower 1/3 will re-take the assessment to demonstrate the knowledge they have gained throughout the exercises.

All students come back together to play the game designed by the Upper 1/3 group. It’s a fun way to wrap up the unit where all students are on the same page, and at similar levels of knowledge and skill.

For ELL Students the following modifications will be observed:
– Teach any necessary vocabulary
– Allow extra time to complete assessment and tasks
– Group with Student in Middle 1/3 group to practice
– Where appropriate, coordinate with ELL staff to include class content

For Students with Learning Disabilities the following modifications will be observed:
– Allow students to take assessment orally or by playing the piano
– Allow extra time to complete assessment and tasks
– Allow students to take assessment with teacher providing aural cues on piano or rhythm sticks
– Allow students to create and use visual aids