I was intrigued today by the idea of learning stories. I do a lot of multimedia in my room — photos of students and video and audio recordings as well. It made me wonder: What are some ways I can use learning stories in a music class? What are some ways I can have students create their OWN Learning Stories?? Cool concept all around.
It left me with a lot of questions… Should I as the teacher do all the writing or should students participate in the process? Is there a way to use journaling in a music class environment?
Unfortunately, a lot of these questions led me down the following path: Do all of these techniques bring students too far away from the “feeling” environment of music? Do we want to pull kids away from playing music and feeling that emotional reaction to it in order to have them write about the experience when writing might be something they struggle with? Or should these activities be purely for the teacher to do? If I am doing them for myself, what relationship should these stories have to the children? Are they for them to enjoy purely for the sake of enjoyment or are they related to assessment in some way?
My class is often an outlet *away* from other activities and I do what I can to help kids avoid feeling “marked” or “scrutinized” as often as possible.
I do this because in traditional schooling, there’s this feeling that everything always needs to be written down or recorded to be validated… As if the learning isn’t learning unless it is on a poster or laminated. But is that the case?
Especially in a music class where the learning is meant to be experienced and felt… how do we record feelings in a way that keeps them authentic?
These are all areas I’m struggling with.
THE STRUGGLE BETWEEN ASSESSMENT AND LEARNING STORIES
While I understand that learning stories aren’t meant to be used as assessment pieces, I wonder (especially within the context of the other reading in class today), what the point is of going to all the work to take meticulous notes on students if we are not using these notes to, in some way, assess them.
In my subject area, in particular, almost none of my “letter grades” rely on “marked assignments” or “tests”. Almost every time of assessment I use is note-taking and video-taking, which looks very similar to the learning stories you were showing today. So how can I *not* get confused between the two.
Additionally, I struggle with what Judith T. M. Gulikers, Theo J. Bastiaens and Paul A. Kirschner call “construct validity” (p. 68)… does the assessment measure what it is supposed to measure? Am I measuring students on their ability to play guitar, or work in groups, when I put them in groups to play music? Music is such an authentic subject that I worry that by focusing on the creation of learning stories, or pushing my documentation/assessment of the process too much into the forefront, that the authenticity taking place will be lessened.
In an extremely short journal article I came across while writing this reflection, Amy Rowland speaks about the role of journaling in “gym” classes. She is responding to student complainants who say, “You want me to write a paper in gym class?” (p.59). This is how I often feel when asking students to write things in music class. However, while Rowland argues that journaling and goal-setting are important in physical education, I would argue that they actually detract from the experience. I’d bet a million dollars that Miles Davis never journaled about becoming a great trumpet player. Sidney Crosby didn’t sit down for goal-setting sessions on how to be a great hockey player. They just did.
At some point, we have to let people who excel at music or shop or sports or being in nature excel at these things and stop pulling them out of the authentic experience to make them fill in paperwork.
Gulikers, Judith T. M., Bastiaens Theo J., and Kirschner Paul A. “A Five-Dimensional Framework for Authentic Assessment.” Educational Technology Research and Development 52, no. 3 (2004): 67-86. http://www.jstor.org.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/stable/30220391.
Rowland, Amy. “Not Just “Gym” Anymore: The Role of Journaling in Physical Education Courses.” The Clearing House 81, no. 2 (2007): 59-60. http://www.jstor.org.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/stable/30189956.