As I return, in grade 10 the kids have finished their immersion / Criterion A work and now it's time to start on the creative cycle. This is the scary bit because we've got to make sure we are hitting all the strands of A3, B, C and D, in the new guide. For me, the most important thing to remember is that the assessments of the criteria have to be the equivalent of a 'video' and not of a 'snapshot.' They can't have a question on a final evaluation for C2 and call that assessed. I need to look at their creative thinking throughout the entire creative cycle. The kids and I talked about this in class yesterday. First of all, we need to remember that their music grades are now based on 75% bookwork and only 25% practical, and the behaviour/attitude marks are gone. (MYP Music has now become much, much harder!) The second thing we need to remember is that creative thinking is now one of the cornerstones of MYP Arts. It's literally got its own criteria.
On Friday, I handed out a task sheet to my grade 10s. (Now, I normally tweak my task sheets over several years and THEN post to the blog, but I think since we are all new together at the new MYP, I'll start posting all my drafts, warts and all). What I liked about the new creative cycle was the change in the kids' philosophies. Before, the kids would say, "Okay, we need to make a plan, and let's start practicing." They would often go with the very first idea they had. I would then make up brainstorming activities in class to try and get them to think more creatively. However, now that creativity is assessed in MYP Music, the kids' conversations had changed. They were putting as many ideas in their process journals as possible. The thing that worries some of them, now, is that they don't recognise creativity. Some kept saying to me, "Is this creative enough? Is this considered creativity?" One asked me how a symphonic soundtrack can be considered creative at all. I replied that there's endless possibilities, especially when you consider the philosophies we'd looked at in class. For example, she could take the normal song (that she doesn't consider to be creative) and could use interesting instruments, or add silences, or juxtapose it against an opposite image on the screen, or add different bridges, etc. So that's one good thing I found about the new guide - I like the new emphasis on creative thinking.
The other thing I like about the new guide is the emphasis on skills. Sure, they are only worth 25% of the final grade, but the criteria is now entirely skills based because the plan has moved from B1 to C1. Yesterday, I had three students finish their plans early and come to me for a private conference. We went through the sheet music they had chosen and talked about what challenges they would be facing and what types of skills they'd need to complete the task. All of the students chose music that was challenging. (This was my primary worry for B1, as it's impossible to have a generic list of skills in a class full of inquirers.) For two of the kids, we drew up a list of 5 skills that I'd be specifically looking for when assessing them. For one of the kids, we drew up only 4 skills because the music he chose was very, very challenging. This is how I explained the new criteria to the kids:
B1: Can you perform the skill?
B2: Can you apply the skill?
My boy with the super challenging music has chosen finger-picking guitar with grace notes jumping into complex chords.
B1: Can he actually do this? Does he know the fingerings? Does he get the point of a grace note? Do the chords sound together?
B2: When he is playing the song, do the grace note / chord combinations happen fluidly and within time? Do they have good tone quality that fit well within the context of the piece?
Here is the worksheet. Please leave me your feedback in the comments section - I'd love to hear from you!