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Over the next few weeks, I will be giving pre- and post-tests to my 2nd and 3rd grade general music classes as a part of assessing their growth in music class throughout this school year. Whether you believe that this should happen in an elementary music classroom or not, there are many states and school districts that require music educators to give visual data that can show growth in their classrooms. This can be done in several ways: audio recordings, visual recordings, composition, paper versions of testing, digital assessments, and more. For me, in my graduate classes, I used pre- and post-testing to measure the students’ growth in learning basic musical concepts such as rhythm and note reading. When I started doing this nine years ago, I used paper and pencil. I then switched to the SMART Board Response System so that the students would not have to write (if that was a concern) and to help me gather data in a more efficient way. Yesterday, I used Socrative to pre- and post-test.
Where to begin:
If you decide to assess musical growth, you need to choose what you will measure. Will you measurematching pitch? If so, then I would use the iDoceo app to record and keep track of the students’ singing throughout the entire school year. Or GarageBand or Audacity to just record their singing voices. Will you measure the steady beat? If so, again, I would use the iDoceo app to video record and keep track of the students keeping the beat throughout the year. Or an app to just record video. Will you measure note naming or rhythm identification? If so, then Socrative might be a good solution.
As stated on the website, http://www.socrative.com, “Socrative empowers you to engage and assess your students as learning happens. Through the use of real-time questioning, result aggregation, and visualization, you have instant insight into levels of understanding so you can use class time to better collaborate and grow as a community of learners.” For elementary music educators, Socrative is free and can be used with any platform (MAC or PC), on computers (through the website link), and on tablets (from iPads, to Chrome books/Google apps, to Android, to Window apps, to Window 8 apps). Therefore, if your school has internet access, you can use Socrative to assess your students.
Creating an Assessment:
To create an assessment, I need to create a teacher account and classroom.This involves creating a user name for yourself, a password, and naming your classroom (mine is Music Room Burns). Once this is created, I click on the “Manage Quizzes” tab to create an assessment. I have four choices in this tab:
- Import a Quiz: This allows you to import a quiz from another Socrative teacher or from a quiz that was made in Excel.
- My Quizzes: This accesses all of the quizzes that you have made in Socrative.
- Reports: This allows you to export the data from your assessments via email or download or Google Drive, depending the device you are using to access Socrative (i.e. computer vs mobile device).
- Create a Quiz: This allows me to create a multiple choice, true/false, or short answer quizzes. For the pre- and post-tests, I used the multiple choice quiz template. I named the quiz and clicked on the “Multiple Choice” button.
- I typed in the question. “What is the name of this note?”
- I clicked on the picture icon and uploaded a picture of a quarter note. To find a quarter note, perform a google image search, find the quarter note picture you want, and save it as a .jpg (Socrative will not use .png or .pdf files).
- I inputted a variety of answers.
- I checked the box that had the correct answer.
- I clicked the “x” button if I wanted less than five answers.
- If I wanted to change the formatting, I could do so by clicking the formatting button.
- I clicked the save button.
- I created 14 questions. Some were similar, so I clicked the duplicate button, which duplicated the question, and I changed the wording where needed.
Implementing an Assessment:
Once you have created an assessment in your teacher app or logged in as a teacher on the Socrative website, your students can access the assessment. Here is how my students did this:
- I have access to about four to five iPads and three to four laptops in my classroom. I showed all of the students the pre-test and read to them the questions. I took a portion of the class and had them access the Socrative student app or clicked on the student login on the website and had them type in my music room. From my teacher desktop computer with the teacher login, I clicked on “Start a Quiz”, and clicked on the assessment I wanted to use. At the top of this new page, you can choose between student-paced assessment with immediate feedback, or student paced, or teacher-paced. I liked to have the immediate feedback of answers, so I chose the first option and disabled the student feedback. I clicked the “START” button and the pre-test appeared on all of the laptops and iPads. The students needed to type their names and then they were ready to begin the pre-test.
- As I worked on music theory using recorder music with the other students, the first group took the 3rd Grade Pre-test. When they finished, they came over to us and I would send another student to alaptop or iPad to take the pre-test.
- On my desktop, all of the students’ answers, scores, and results were coming up on the computer screen. Since my desktop is not connected to a projector and faces the back of the room, no student could see this.
- At the end of the class, all of the results were listed.
- I now can export these results.
As I thought through the process, I asked myself questions to see if this process was successful. I asked:
- Did the students understand what they were supposed to do? Yes. Only one student came up to me with a laptop and asked me to explain the instructions again. The others knew it was a pre-test with pictures and multiple choice questions.
- Did this process work for those who have comprehension concerns? Yes, because I made sure to read all of the questions to them before we started. In addition, the pictures assisted with the question.
- Were there any frustrated students? No. The submit button (to submit the answer) was sometimes not visible until they scrolled down to it; however, when this occurred, another student would always assist.
- Were the results easy to read? Yes. Socrative gave me percentages for their scoring and showed me percentages for each question. It will assist me in what I need to work on with that specific class. In addition, I also know which students to challenge.
- Did I expect the results? Yes. The pre-test averaged around 60%, which gives me a lot of room to help them progress.
Later that evening, when it as quiet in my house, I reflected on Socrative further and asked the following FAQ:
- What other assessments could I use with Socrative? This question reminded me that I used it last year for student reflection after a third grade STEAM unit. I recalled that they performed a short answer quiz which I used similar to a blog post. I posted a question in Socrative, “What would you want the listener to know about your song?” The third graders typed their answers, and the responses appeared (anonymously) on the screen. As other third graders watched and read the responses, they in turn, began writing more than just a few words. The end result was some very thoughtful reflections, such as:
- “I would want the people to know which drum is low and which drum is high. I would also want them to know the beat of the song I am playing. The last thing I would want the people to know is how to dance to the awesome song I am playing!!!”
- What is a Space Race? The space race allows you to divide the class into teams and they take the assessment as teams. On the teacher screen, the teacher can see which team is answering correctly. Each team’s rocket (there are other icons) will progress across the screen as each team answers correctly.
- Do I need internet access for Socrative? Yes.
- Do I need an Interactive Whiteboard? No.
- Do I need a 1:1 classroom? No. I used it with a few devices, but not 1:1.
- Can I use this with just one device projected onto a screen? Yes, but you would not have the ability to have Socrative gather and assess all of the answers.
- Is it possible to assign the students to access it at home? Yes, but I believe that you would need to be logged in to Socrative at a computer/device with your assessment activated so that when your students accessed it, it would work. Therefore, unless you assign a specific time, like at 7pm EST, then you would always have to be logged in and the assessment would always have to be activated.
- Can I use this with laptops, desktops, MAC, PC, Chrome books, iPads, Window apps, or Window 8 apps? Yes to all. I feel that Socrative is amazing due to this easy assessibility from all devices.
- Does my school need a login? Nope. Just the teacher created account.
- My school uses ____ accounts. Can I still use Socrative? Yes, because it is running off of your teacher account.
- Is it free? Yes.
If you are opting to assess in this way, or it is required, and you have a few devices you can use, I encourage you to try Socrative.
Amy M. Burns is an elementary music educator, clinician, author, and musician. She currently works at Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, NJ teaching PreK through Grade 3 general music, grade 5 instrumental music, and grades 4-8 instrumental band. She is the author of Technology Integration in the Elementary Music Classroom, Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with a SMART Board, and Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with One or more iPads! She is also an author for Online Learning Exchange™ Interactive Music powered by Silver Burdett. She has given numerous presentations on integrating technology into the elementary music classroom as well as being a keynote speaker for music technology conferences in Texas, Indiana, St. Maarten, and Australia. She is the recipient of the 2005 TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award, the 2016 NJ Master Music Teacher Award, the 2016 NJ Governor’s Leader in Arts Education Award, and the 2017 Non-Public School Teacher of the Year Award. You can find out more about Amy at her website: amymburns.com