Accountability: Grades Matter in Middle School Chorus-Classroom Management

It's early November.  School has been in full swing for months now.  Habits have been formed in our middle school choral music classrooms.   We are reaping what we've sewn in terms of classroom management:  the good, the bad and the ugly.

I often hear adults complain about the ills of modern technology and the effects we think it will have on our young students, but we can choose to do the opposite.

We can choose to attempt to view the world through their lens.

How can we use technology and how our middle school singers receive it to meet them where they are and get positive results?

For example, I am using Google Classroom with my students, and I absolutely love it.  I am slowly working toward using less paper.  I can use google forms for surveys.  I can have them record themselves and upload the recordings into the classroom.  I can record parts for challenging songs and allow them to listen to them and work on them outside of class.  I use Music Prodigy with my students to help them practice and improve their sight singing abilities in combination with S-Cubed Sight Singing Program.  I use Remind to send texts to the students.

All of these new ways of reaching the students in the phone in their pocket, their chrome book, their i-pads or whatever devices they use are completely different than they were 10 years ago, and they allow us to give instant feedback to our students.

This is the key:  instant feedback.

Middle School students expect it now.  They post on social media and then refresh over and over again to see what the response is.   Even adults have begun to expect instant information.  We see a tease on a news show before a commercial, and we mute the television and go to "google" and find the information before they return from the commercial break. 

As electronic grade books exploded, I noticed that more and more of my students set notifications on their phones so they see every single grade a teacher enters.

Back in the day, that wasn't possible.

So, I decided to rely more and more on this form of communication to give information on their daily performance in my class.

When I enter their weekly participation grade, I am speaking directly to the student.  I have an opportunity to give feedback that I didn't have before using electronic grade books. 

So I use it...a lot. 

And they notice.

If I enter a grade of less than 100, and I place a note in the "notes" section about why the student earned that grade, I often see a change in the behavior the following week.  Likewise, I use feedback and grades to encourage students who are quietly showing awesome leadership.  Here are some examples from this past week:

I have classes as large as 84 students, so using the electronic grade book to communicate about their work has been very helpful.  The number in the grade book speaks, and you also have the opportunity to share specifics about why you gave that number.   I simply follow the rubric in my syllabus.   The feedback can be extra important at this time of year when we want to help our middle school singers stay on the right track.

Now, if we could just find a way to use Fortnite to teach them to sing...

Have a great week!