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K-12 Performing Arts

Task 3: Assessment Commentary

TASK 3: ASSESSMENT COMMENTARY


Respond to the prompts below (no more than 10 single-spaced pages, including prompts) by typing your responses within
the brackets following each prompt. Do not delete or alter the prompts. Commentary pages exceeding the maximum will not be
scored. Attach the assessment you used to evaluate student performance (no more than 5 additional pages) to the end of this
file. If you submit feedback as a video or audio clip and your comments to focus students cannot be clearly heard, attach
transcriptions of your comments (no more than 2 additional pages) to the end of this file. These pages do not count toward
your page total.

1. Analyzing Student Learning


a. Identify the specific learning objectives measured by the assessment you chose for
analysis.
[ With the help of the formal assessment, the specific learning objectives of my students'
performance are three-fold. First of all, students will successfully perform the eight measures of
the playing test at a level appropriate to their grade level and experience according to the six
categories of the rubric explained in Part D (Evaluation Criteria). I will be evaluating their
Posture, Steady Tempo, Rhythm, Bow direction and Lifts, Intonation, and Tone/Overall Sound
on a four-point scale. These six areas are what the students and I thought was important to
evaluate for a performance assessment so that they could get feedback on how they played.
Secondly, students will evaluate and reflect on their performance using the rubric. Finally
students will be given an opportunity to create goals for the future when they practice and
perform this song as we work towards our December concert. This final objective is not
measured in a quantitative way by the assessment, but rather informs me about their personal
playing goals as they seek to improve the quality of their playing.]
b. Provide a graphic (table or chart) or narrative that summarizes student learning for your
whole class. Be sure to summarize student learning for all evaluation criteria submitted
in Assessment Task 3, Part D.
[The student learning across the class can be seen in this simple indication of which students
were successful and which were not. In our district, students do not get a letter grade for
orchestra bur rather receive one of three indications:
E = Exceeds
M = Meets
N = Needs Improvement
This indication is determined by their score out of 24 according to the playing test rubric. I
include a copy of this rubric in Part D. This is used by both the students (for an informal selfevaluation) and myself (for a more formal assessment)
Here is the data for our class of 55 students:
Indication

No. of Students

Percentage of Class

Exceeds

18

32.73%

Meets

29

52.72%

Needs Improvement

14.55%

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Task 3: Assessment Commentary

To show more detail regarding the actual scoring, below is a sample of the table I used to
summarize learning and performance of each student. Rather than showing all 55, this table
shows the scores of the ten 8th graders who play violin. This chart includes the score they gave
themselves, my evaluation score, the score translated into a grade percentage, and the grade
they will receive in their gradebook. As you can see, of the ten students, only one student
received an N. Six received a score that placed them in the Meets category, and three received
an E for Exceeds.

Student
No.

Self-Eval

Teacher
eval

Grade
Percentage

E, M, or N

22

22

92

1st
Violins:
8th grade

20

20

83.33

N: 1

22

21

87.5

M: 6

17

19

79

E: 3

20

21.5

90

22

22

92

22

22

92

21

21

87.5

~6-13

14

58

10

19

20

83.33

To break it down further, I also tracked student progress on the six specific categories of the
rubric and averaged out the score (out of a four-point scale) to see which areas of playing were
the weakest across the class, in order to inform my future teaching.

Category:
Posture
Steady Tempo

Class Average (out of four-point scale)


3.6
3.8

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K-12 Performing Arts


Task 3: Assessment Commentary

Rhythm

3.5

Bow Direction and Lifts


Intonation

2.8
3.5

Tone/Overall Sound

2.9

]
c. Use evidence found in the 3 student work samples and the whole class summary to
analyze the patterns of learning for the whole class and differences for groups or
individual learners relative to applying the following within music/dance/theater:

knowledge/skills (e.g., tools/instruments, technical proficiencies, processes,


elements, organizational principles)

contextual understandings (e.g., social, cultural, historical, personal reflection)


artistic expression (e.g., interpretation, creativity, exploration/improvisation, individual
choices)
Consider what students understand and do well, and where they continue to struggle
(e.g., common errors, weaknesses, confusions, need for greater challenge).
[ According to the first table, a third of the class (32.7%) achieved a mark of Exceeds, meaning
they had practiced to the extent that they could perform the playing test to a high degree. A
strong majority (53%) fell into the Meets category, demonstrating by their playing that they
understood the task and were able to perform the task well. Eight students fell into the Needs
Improvement category for various reasons; some students had simply not practiced enough,
others did not understand how to execute the difficult bowing technique I was evaluating, and a
few simply did not have the prior knowledge and playing experience to successfully practice and
perform this section.
The Work Sample and Feedback for Student Number 3 demonstrates an example of a student
who falls into the Needs Improvement category. In the video of this student's performance as
well as the rubric, it is clear that this student struggles in many areas. According to the rubric,
this student has difficulty with keeping a Steady Tempo, Rhythm, Bow direction and Lifts, and
Tone/Overall Sound. While I don't expect the student to improve in every area all at once, I
gave a little bit of advice in each area on her rubric so that she can start working on each
category.
According to the last table, it is interesting to see which areas of the rubric the students excelled
at and which needed more emphasis. I think this analysis gives me the most informative
feedback as I plan future lessons, because it shows what the weakest overall area of the class's
playing ability as measured by this rubric. After analyzing the whole class' scores, it was clear
that the class average of 2.8 on the Bow direction and lifts means that this skill still needs more
emphasis and support as we continue to prepare this song for the concert. I will continue to
work the bowing skills into future warm-ups, trying to disguise the repetition as much as possible
in order to get the students to play and practice the bowings often!]

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Task 3: Assessment Commentary

Finally, since this assessment was focused on the knowledge/skill outcome of the difficult
bowing, I recognize that the students who struggled with this may succeed in other areas
(contextual understanding and artistic expression) so I make sure to allow opportunities to
informally assess these areas in other lessons. For example, at the end of Lesson #2 I asked
all the students to fill out a post-it note describing in words what they had learned about
Ukrainian culture and also to define an ostinato. Students who may not play as well have a
chance to demonstrate their understanding in these assessments. Although they did not get a
grade for that activity, it allows me to see what the students who perform at a lower level are
thinking and gaining from the other contextual and artistic outcomes of the lessons.
d. If a video or audio work sample occurs in a group context (e.g., discussion), provide the
name of the clip and clearly describe how the scorer can identify the focus student(s)
(e.g., position, physical description) whose work is portrayed.
[ The students featured in the video work sample are clearly seen playing their instrument so
that the scorer can identify the students. In Student #3's video you cannot see the student (she
is out of the focus of the camera) but you can see her bow moving while the rest of the students
are sitting still and listening.]
2. Feedback to Guide Further Learning
Refer to specific evidence of submitted feedback to support your explanations.
a. Identify the format in which you submitted your evidence of feedback for the
3 focus students. (Delete choices that do not apply.)

Written directly on work samples or in separate documents that were provided to the
focus students
[ After each student evaluated their own playing on the rubric, I collected them and went back to
review what they thought of their playing. I watched the videos of each student again to remind
myself of each student's specific performance, and then I circled the specific rubric sections for
each student. If I had specific feedback on certain categories or if my grade differed from theirs,
I tried to give an appropriate explanation or direction for future growth. ]
b. Explain how feedback provided to the 3 focus students addresses their individual
strengths and needs relative to the learning objectives measured.
[ Student #1 really excelled in his preparation and performance of the playing test passage.
While I gave him a score of 100% or 24 out of 24 because he satisfied each portion of the rubric
accordingly, I was also sure to include some advice to get a better tone or use even more
advanced bowing techniques. For example, while I complimented his tone in general, I noticed
that some of the longer half notes did not sound fully connected and supported by the bow.
Therefore I wrote near that category, Nice job, ___! Can you try to connect the half notes more
from measure 53-53? No stopping the sound! In this comment, specific measure numbers
were mentioned so that he could have a particular goal in mind and know exactly what I was
referring to.
Also, in the section where students are asked to set a goal to improve as they work on this
further, I acknowledged his answer and also gave him another task. He can play all the notes
and rhythms well, so now I think a good goal for him is to speed it up so it is closer to
performance tempo. Therefore, I wrote how quickly can you play this excerpt so that he can
start working up to a faster tempo. Since he does not need much help in the way of notes and
rhythms, these comments are intended to challenge this high-achieving student to a more

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Task 3: Assessment Commentary

advanced level of playing and leadership. Even though I gave him a perfect score, he knows
that there are still things he can learn from this playing test.
Student #2 is at a very different level where he is still working out the notes and trying to
understand the bow directions and lifts. While his playing was adequate (he received a Meets
for his score of 16 out of 24), I certainly want to encourage him in certain areas to practice more
intentionally in order to be more comfortable with this song. Recognizing that he may not know
exactly what is causing the bow trouble, I wrote for him to carefully consider beat 3 when the
notes change in measures 57, 58, and 59. As with Student #1, I think it is very helpful for this
student to know exactly which measures need the most work. And how can he work on it? I
write for him to Practice slowly at first! I have a feeling that this student only played this a few
times through, and played it too fast without considering how to figure out the rhythms. By
practicing more slowly, he will be more successful at playing correct bowings and then he can
play it faster.
Finally for Student #3, there are many many things I want her to work on! She is having a lot of
trouble reading the notes (she has trouble reading in English class too) so I am sensitive to the
fact that she has some obstacles to her learning besides just physically being able to play her
cello. Therefore, I try to compliment her on what she is doing well I try to spell out for her the
areas that need the most help. Another red flag to me is the fact that she thinks she falls into
the Meets category. On page 2 of her feedback form, she says she would give herself a grade
between 15-21. Right next to this, I circle the number 14 from the rubric to highlight to her that
she is not doing as well as she thinks. This is a big reason for having the students fill out a selfevaluation first, because it helps me see how the students evaluate themselves before I give my
advice. After learning what she thinks, I spell out for her what she needs to work on, by writing
specific notes to work on the intonation (C# to Cnatural and final note (B)), and on the second
page I write According to the rubric, I'd like you to work mostly on tempo (playing it faster) and
tone (getting a better, bigger sound). If you'd like some practice help, let me know!)
By explaining my evaluation in this way, I am letting her know the priorities for her to work on as
well as offering individual help as she may need. I do not want to compel her to get extra help
but I am offering it so that she can make the choice to improve with my help. ]
c. Describe how you will support each focus student to understand and use this feedback
to further their learning related to learning objectives, either within the learning segment
or at a later time.
[ With Student #1, I will capitalize on his strengths by asking him to lead more with his sound in
class. He is setting a great example and by recognizing it in class he will be a mentor and
leader for the other students in the cello section. As we start to speed up the piece, I will
continue to assess how he plays at the faster tempo.
After evaluating Student #2, I realize how he needs quite a bit more support as he applies the
new bowing technique to this passage. Therefore I will watch him more carefully in warm-ups to
see how he adapts the bowing to our warm-up scale. First I will give general advice to the
entire class and then more specifically to the cello section that will help him and others who
have some of the same difficulties.
My goal with Student #3 is for her to become more comfortable with this song and play it more
correctly (and more often!) My biggest concern in addition to her below-level literacy is the fact
that she attends choir every other morning, meaning she is present at orchestra only half the
time. This means that she is playing her cello half as often as everyone else, practicing the
difficult bowing and lifts half as much, and hearing my directions and reinforcements less often.
Therefore I will make a special effort with her to recognize the days when the choir students are
in class and to work more concretely on the bowing skills when she is present. Also, if her
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Task 3: Assessment Commentary

playing does not improve, I am strongly considering asking another student to help be her
mentor to tell her specifically about what we rehearsed when she was in choir. Finally, I will
follow up with her in person about the feedback form, asking her at an opportune time such as
when all the students are busy packing up at the end of class if she is able to stay after school
or come early to orchestra one day to get some extra individual attention. ]
3. Evidence of Language Understanding and Use
When responding to the prompt below, use concrete examples from the clip(s) and/or
student work samples as evidence. Evidence from the clip(s) may focus on one or more
students.
You may provide evidence of students language use from ONE, TWO, OR ALL THREE
of the following sources:

1. Use video clips from Instruction Task 2 and provide time-stamp references for
evidence of language use.
2. Submit an additional video file named Language Use of no more than 5
minutes in length and cite language use (this can be footage of one or more
students language use). Submit the clip in Assessment Task 3, Part B.
3. Use the student work samples analyzed in Assessment Task 3 and cite
language use.
a. Explain and provide concrete examples for the extent to which your students were able
to use the

selected language function,


vocabulary/symbols, AND
syntax or discourse to develop content understandings.
[ In class, ALL students were able to play the difficult bowing technique after practicing it in daily
warmups. This is visible in the first Video (of Lesson #2) where we are working on the bowing in
class on a G major scale, in the first 3 minutes. It may not be at the fastest speed but the
students are practicing it successfully as a group.
Through the formal assessment, I evaluated whether or not each student was able to complete
the key language function of performing part of Ukrainian Bell Carol. I recognize that they are
at all different levels of playing their instrument so I selected an assessment passage that would
challenge the class and provide an appropriate level of difficulty as they learned the song from
the perspective of their playing skill, cultural understanding, and artistic growth. In completing
the rubric, each student showed that they could play the section (no student got less than 50%,
or 12 points) and thus perform to some degree.
Outside of the formal assessment, other class activities allow me to evaluate the students' grasp
of the cultural and artistic learning outcomes of spending five lessons on this piece. For
example, after discussing the meaning of the word ostinato [vocabulary use] and how it is
used in music, [syntax because ostinato is a formal compositional technique that the students
are using to understand and play the music], I used exit slips to find out which students truly
understood the word and could write an explanation in their own words. We applied the idea of
ostinato not only to the recognizable four-note pattern in Ukrainian Bell Carol but also to the
bell tones.
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Task 3: Assessment Commentary

To add the artistic element, students were given the chance to explore writing their own ostinati
and then sharing them with the class. This takes place primarily in Video #2, from 0:50 until the
end of the video. Since I was not formally assessing the students on this outcome, I did not
require everyone to share their idea. In future lessons, however, this would be a great way to
assess student comprehension and creativity of this concept.]
4. Using Assessment to Inform Instruction
a. Based on your analysis of student learning presented in prompts 1bc, describe next
steps for instruction:

For the whole class


For the 3 focus students and other individuals/groups with specific needs
Consider the variety of learners in your class who may require different
strategies/support (e.g., students with IEPs or 504 plans, English language learners,
struggling readers, underperforming students or those with gaps in academic
knowledge, and/or gifted students).
[ According the the four-point scales on each category of the rubric, the two lowest scoring
categories are the particular areas I will address in instruction for the entire class in the
upcoming lessons. With a few more weeks before our concert in December, there will be ample
time to concretely improve these areas of Bow direction and Tone/Overall sound.
Beyond practicing and rehearsing the actual song many times in the next weeks, I think both
objectives can best be improved in the warm-up sequence. By repeating the difficult bowing
every morning during the warmup, the students will become more proficient at it. I will provide
the added challenge of speeding up the tempo as we go so that the students can apply it to a
greater degree. As far as improving the Tone/Overall sound, this is best accomplished through
specific reminders to students regarding how to achieve a more characteristic tone. Some
students may be working too hard (i.e. using TOO MUCH bow during the difficult sections and
slowing it down) while others are certainly not putting in enough effort. I will seek to motivate all
students by addressing these tendencies and giving them specific feedback and analogies in
class.
In my answer to 2b I explained some of the next steps for the focus students, namely:
Student #1: Ask him to lead by example and proper bowing, and to concentrate on speeding up
the passage so that he can play it proficiently at a faster tempo
Student #2: Watch his bow more closely during warmups to ensure that he is performing the
correct bowing skill each time. If he continues to have trouble I will offer specific feedback in the
form of a general class reminder, then a more direct instruction to the cello section, and finally a
specific reminder to him as needed.
Student #3: As I assess her progress in the large group rehearsals when we focus specifically
on the things she (and many other under-performing students) struggle with, I will also ask
another student to tell her what she missed on the days she was gone for choir. After class I will
ask her how she is doing and if she'd like to come in for some extra help on the bowings and
intonation.]
b. Explain how these next steps follow from your analysis of students learning. Support
your explanation with principles from research and/or theory.
[ Because I used such a specific rubric, I could analyze each students' weaker areas and give
them useful feedback to try implementing on their own. I recognize that Students #2 and #3
especially need extra support as they learn the new bowing skill. I firmly believe I used an
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Task 3: Assessment Commentary

appropriate piece and assessment tool to evaluate their learning and that now they simply need
more help in acquiring the skills to perform the song correctly or as well as they can. As
Vygotsky explains in his theory of the zone of proximal development, it is extremely important to
challenge students appropriately and find areas where they can improve in a manageable and
valuable way. I believe these two focus students and the others who were in the Needs
Improvement category must be willing to put in more personal practice time and also receive a
few extra reminders from me in order to achieve their best, not only for their in-class
assessments and language function of the bowing skill and performance, but also for their
public performance of the Ukrainian Bell Carol where they will demonstrate a holistic
understanding to the audience of what they have learned about how to play this song and the
cultural and artistic elements that give it so much meaning.
Assessment is included on the following pages AND in Part D (Evaluation Criteria).

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Task 3: Assessment Commentary

Copy of the Formal Assessment Rubric, given in Lesson #3.


Name:______________________
Instrument:___________________
Concert Orchestra
Playing Test rubric: Ukrainian Bell Carol, Oct. 19-20th 2015
1
Posture

Difficult to play
Playing is inhibited
due to most or
by two or more:
all of these
Slouching
habits:
Right Hand
Slouching
incorrect bow
Right Hand
hand-shape
incorrect bow
thumb not bent
hold
pinky not curved
thumb not bent
Left Hand
pinky not
pancake wrist
curved
Left Hand
pancake wrist

elbow too far or


close

Playing is inhibited
by one of these:

Excellent
posture
characterizes
this student:

Slouching
Right Hand
incorrect bow handshape

Sitting up straight
Right Hand

pinky not curved

correct bow
hold bent
thumb

Left Hand

curved pinky

thumb not bent

pancake wrist
elbow too far or close

Left Hand
tall wrist
elbow under
instrument

elbow too far


or close
Steady
Tempo

Student played
at an
inconsistent
tempo, the
teacher could
not find any
sense of pulse,
or it was too
slow

Some measures
were in tempo, but
after the lifts, got
confused

Most measures
stuck to a solid,
quick tempo

Passage was
played at a
consistent and
steady tempo,
upbeat

Rhythm

Inaccurate

Inaccurate

1 inaccurate

Accurate

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Task 3: Assessment Commentary

rhythms most
of the time (in
3-5 measures)

rhythms SOME of
the time (1-2
measures)

rhythm

rhythm

Bow
directio
n & Lifts

Bow direction
was wrong
most of the
time (in 3-5
measures), no
lifts.

Bow direction was


opposite some of
the time (1-2
measures), some
bow lifts

One instance of
inaccurate bow
direction, nearly
all bow lifts were
accomplished

Bow direction
and lifts were
accomplished
correctly

Intonati
on
Low 2s!

Poor intonation
(5 or more
notes were out
of tune)

3-4 notes out of


tune

1-2 notes out of


tune

All notes were


in tune

Tone/
overall
sound

Scratchy, too
quiet tone

Scratchy tone at
most parts (some
was clean and
strong)

Clean, strong tone


at most parts
(some was
scratchy)

Entire passage
played with a
clean, strong
tone

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Task 3: Assessment Commentary

After evaluating your performance using the rubric, what grade would you give yourself, out
of 24?
22-24 = Exceeds
15-21 = Meets
12-14 = Needs Improvement

When you played this passage, what was your best strength?

Set a goal: What is the area you want to work to improve in order to give a more successful
performance of this passage?

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