Classroom Assessment Technques

assessmentWhen I first picked up Classroom Assessment Techniques by Angelo and Cross, I knew it was going to be a challenging read for me. When reading the Barkley text I enjoyed reading it and found much of the content to relate to however that was because I knew that student engagement was one of my strength areas as a teacher. This text was much more difficult, thought-provoking and truthfully was harder for me to process the information. I am still working on processing the information (and will be through the summer) and how it will be applied in my classes. There were three aspects of the book that really stuck out to me and I am going to discuss those further.

The first thing that I noticed even before I began reading was the similarities in Barkley’s SET’s and the CAT’s in this text. There are many of the techniques that are the exact same or very similar. This got me thinking about the connection between student engagement and student assessment. One vocabulary lesson I learned in this book was the difference between formative vs summative assessments. Summative assessments being what everyone traditionally thinks about when the term student assessment is discussed. These measure the evidence of student learning that has occurred during the class. This book and the term “classroom assessment” are referring to formative assessment. After reading chapter two, I view formative assessments as checkpoint assessments to make sure the students are on the right track to learning what they need to. This took some time to process as it gave specific terminology to a practice I had been doing in my classes already. This book made me redefine assessment. In my clinical work, assessment is the gathering of data on a client to determine a starting point, while previously in my classroom assessment was the checking on specific knowledge developments that the students were expected to know. After reading this book, especially chapter two, I realized that student/classroom assessment is much broader than I realized and can be included in your lessons. I will be adding more purposeful formative assessments into each class.

The second thing that I appreciated was the seemingly open dialogue and willingness to disclose all information. In the preface, they discuss and describe the kind of teacher that this book was written for. They go into greater detail in later parts of the book about how teachers with different teaching experiences should read or skip to specific parts of the book. The overview section of the preface gives a great summary of each section and suggestions for how to use this handbook. My favorite piece of information that was given was the questions used for the CAT selection criteria for inclusion in the book. When I was reading it, it helped confirm that the authors had put great amounts of thought into what they included and they wanted the reader to understand their motivation and purpose behind writing the book. I know this is one thing we had discussed that the Barkley text was missing so it stood out when I read it here.

Finally, I liked the various ways that the authors gave you access to the CAT’s and allowed the reader to choose them in the manner that best fit what they were looking for. The first way that the reader can access the CAT’s is through the Teaching Goals Inventory in chapter 2. This questionnaire assists teacher in identifying and ranking their specific teaching goals. Following the completion of this, the reader can turn to Table 6.3 on page 113 to identify the CAT’s that match the TGI cluster that they identified as a need area. In chapter 6, there are two other tables to allow easy access to the information. The first is an alphabetical listing of the CATs and the second is a listing by disciplines identified in the examples given. They are clear that many of the CAT’s can be used for multiple disciplines but these are ones that have been specifically identified to work. By having multiple clear avenues for the reader to find the appropriate resource, the authors have also increased the number of uses for the book in general.

I could write an entire second book review on the content of the CAT’s and the approach to classroom assessment. There is great information in those sections as well. For example, each CAT listed includes 12 specific pieces of information for each one including description, teaching goals, suggestions and examples as well as practical advice for how to analyze the data. However, it was difficult for myself to think about the specific CAT’s and apply them in this point of the semester. This summer when I re-evaluate my classes, I will certainly be referencing this book again. This book is truly the starting point for classroom assessment for college teachers. Not only do the authors include a large amount of information and resources, but they also make it very approachable and easy to access.


Teaching Re-Do


It was my first year teaching and all had gone smoothly for the first month or so of school. I walked into the Introduction to Music Therapy course the same as any other day and was ready to teach. I then realized that though I had been able to teach the previous content with very minimal preparation, I did not know how to teach Music Therapy with Individuals with Autism… To this day, it was one of the worst classes that I have been a part of. My lecture had no specific points, the discussion did not get any discussion and the interventions I attempted to demonstrate did not work because I had not described the diagnosis well. I taught the class for 2 more years and  only made minor changes by analyzing the textbook and looking over the content the night before. I always wanted to make bigger changes to the class structure but honestly would forget until the week of and it never got done. When this assignment was given, this was the first class I thought of. This new lesson plan is how I always wanted to teach that lesson but never did. I look forward to any feedback you may have!



Music Therapy with Autism Spectrum Disorder Lesson Plan

Underclassman- 1.5 hour long class


American Music Therapy Association Professional Competencies Addressed:


7.1– Demonstrate basic knowledge of the potential, limitations, and problems of populations specified in the Standards of Clinical Practice.

10.1– Existing music therapy methods, techniques, materials, and equipment with their appropriate applications.

10.6– Use of current technologies in music therapy assessment, treatment, evaluation, and termination.

12.1– Select or create music therapy experiences that meet the client’s objectives.

12.2– Formulate goals and objectives for individual and group therapy based upon assessment findings.

12.5– Select and adapt music, musical instruments, and equipment consistent with the strengths and needs of the client.

12.6– Formulate music therapy strategies for individuals and groups based upon the goals and objectives adopted.

12.7– Create a physical environment (e.g., arrangement of space, furniture, equipment, and instruments that is conducive to therapy).

12.8– Plan and sequence music therapy sessions.



Introduction- 25 Minutes (Barkley SET 16)

Word Map Creation- Positive and Negative associations about the word Autism

  • Ask the students to name all Negative associations with the word Autism and write their answers on the board.
  • Ask the students to name all Positive associations with the word Autism and write their answers on the board.


Discuss the two word maps and direct conversation towards the clinical definition/ diagnosis of an Individual with Autism.


  • Go back to word maps and have the students circle everything in the clinical diagnosis and cross out everything not in the clinical diagnosis.


Discuss why everything circled is in the Negative associations word map- diagnosis are based on limitations rather than abilities.


Discuss how we as music therapists look to use music to help the individual’s positive abilities reduce the effect of their limitations.


Experiential- 20 Minutes

Many individuals with Autism have are overly sensitive to stimuli and find it difficult to block out much of the stimuli that traditional learners do every day.


  • Listen closely and what do you hear?
    1. Air conditioner
    2. Breathing
    3. Cars driving
    4. Birds


When traditional learners are focused their brains have the ability to block out that stimuli where as individuals with Autism have a harder time with that. In this experiential we are going to over stimulate your brain and see how you respond.


  • Divide class into groups of 4 or 5
  • Pass out feathers, spices, scarf, flashlight and childrens book to each group.
  • Instruct one student to attempt to read the book while receiving additional stimulation from each of the other items individually or at the same time.
  • Switch and give each student a change to participate.


Discuss how what should have been an easy task of reading a childrens book became much harder and retention is much lower than expected.


Lecture: 15-20 minutes

  • Receptive and expressive language characteristics of children with autism
  • ACC systems and implementation
    • Possible responses to add to a student’s ACC for use in a music setting
  • Visual cues
    • Importance
    • Uses
  • Social skills
    • Types of deficits
    • Educational approaches to teach social skills
  • Difficult behavior
    • Characteristics
    • Proactive and preventative approaches
    • Behavior strategies for difficult behaviors
      • Using music as a competing behavior
    • Educational strategies that can be used in the music classroom
  • Music therapy interventions
    • Primary and secondary music therapy goals for students with autism
    • Music therapy to improve
      • Receptive and expressive communication
      • Fine and gross motor skills
      • Eye/hand coordination
      • Social skills
      • Behavior
      • Academics
      • Leisure


Application- 30 Minutes


Work with your group from before to Design and create music therapy interventions to address specific needs for each of the above areas


Next Class:


Work with your group to prepare a demonstration of one of the interventions created above. You will have 10 minutes to set up and role play the intervention using other students as your clients. (Barkley SET 19)

S.E.T. = Such an Exceptional Textbook

Surprise…Surprise…After reading all the book reviews last week, I had high expectations set and for the most part they were met. Barkley put great thought into all elements of this book from the order of information presented to the examples she presents. This book is designed in a way where newer faculty can directly apply the techniques given and more experienced faculty can take those ideas and expand on them in their classroom. In this review, I am going to discuss the overall structure first.


When I was learning about writing and how I frequently explain technical writing to my students is using the image of a tornado. As seen in the picture above there is a specific shape to them that is recognizable. It is bigger and the top and then slowly narrows until you reach the ground. In writing, the the first section is more general knowledge then as you get into each subsequent section you get more specific and more applicable to your specific topic. I found that Barkly follows a similar flow of information within this book. In the first part (Chapters 1-6) She is providing a general theoretical overview. She discusses and overviews many of the topics and concepts that are crucial to understanding student engagement. Then in part two (Chapters 7-11) she gets a little more specific and provides more application based tips. In this section she begins to describe strategies that based on specific needs, the reader can chose what is applicable. This section provides good starting places on student engagement but there is still lots of room for the teacher to apply/adapt the information as needed. Finally in the third part (Chapters 12-19), Barkley provides specific techniques with step by step directions for the reader to follow.

As is stated in the preface “readers should thumb through it or start at the point that is most useful and appealing to them” (Barkley, xiii). As discussed above, the set up of the book allows the reader to focus on the level of support that they may need for any specific knowledge area. In my teaching, I appreciated part 2 for “Engaging Students by Focusing on Motivation” (Barkley, 58) but I needed the more specific SET’s for “Role Play” (Barkley, 232). In the next three paragraphs, I will spend a little more time on parts and or statements that made me think.

In part 1, I found the idea of student engagement as a continuum to be a logical conclusion based on the discussion that had been presented. To those who know me, I tend to think that just about everything occurs on a continuum and too often individuals try to fit things into boxes at the extreme ends rather than acknowledging any middle ground. I have said this multiple times in my classes, but too a certain extent everyone is on the ADHD and the OCD continuum. We all have those behaviors or mindsets that if occurred at a level that was detrimental to our daily functioning would be diagnosable. However, too many people tend to view that if you don’t reach that specific cutoff then the behaviors are not significant but I disagree…. OK, now off of that random soapbox…(PS my classes tend to be like this sometimes also…) Back to Barkley. When this was being discussed on page 8, a roller coaster is the picture that came to mind. Every good roller coaster has that moment that defines it, that “peak experience” that you will never forget. But each roller coaster also has the little bumps and the boring ride up the lift to start the ride. It is easy for me to forget not every part of a class or an activity can be this amazing experience that the students learn perfectly within. Barkley says ” As attractive and appealing as these experiences are, they are not sustainable on a constant basis- they’d be too exhausting” (Pg 8) I have spoken about this is some blog responses, but while taking this class I find myself questioning each decision that is made in the moment in the classroom. And while that is not a negative behavior, what is a negative behavior is the follow up question of why was this class not a “transformative” experience. You cant have the high moments without the lows and the climb. Based on experience, when the information is correct, and you and the students are ready for it…Those moments will come. But in the meantime Barkley provides tips and tricks to help us possibly get their faster.

Is the lecture designed to do this or that?


In the following two sections, I really appreciated how Barkley continued to structure the book around the foundations of student engagement that had been established in part 1. As she states, each teacher and each class and each student is different; therefore it may be a different element of student engagement that is challenging each time. However she has set up section two in a way to allow you to target that element and specifically focus on it. It is the third section that got me thinking the most after part one. In this section Barkley provides a list of Student Engagement Techniques or SETS and for each SET gives essential characteristics, description, step by step directions, examples, variations and further advice. It is set up for any teacher, regardless of how long they have been in the classroom, to choose a SET and have a clear understanding of exactly what to do to implement that strategy. In a response to someones comment on one of my blog posts, I attempted to explain a strategy that I had used in a step by step manner that I did not do very well. I found it very impressive that Barkley was able to compile that many resources and provide as much detail as she did.

This book is a resource that can be used for new teachers to learn to build rapport and student engagement in their classroom. It can also be used by more experienced teachers to remind them of current techniques or to provide them with fresh ideas if they are stuck in a rut. I recommend this book to anyone who may feel challenged in engaging their students and who wants to be force to examine their teaching style to identify where in this book to start. This will be a staple on my bookshelf and will be placed at eye level so I remember to think about increasing Student Engagement even when I feel things are going well.






Behaviorism Explained

screen_shot_2014-08-13_at_5.27.15_pm_127609This title may be a little ironic as in this video I try to explain the workings of behaviorism and the concepts behind it. You will find out in this video that behaviorism only focuses on observable behaviors and doesn’t focus on how things occur or the thought process behind behaviors.

I found this project to be more difficult than I expected. I use aspects of behaviorism and operant conditioning every day in my job and was certain I could concisely explain its foundations.  However as I began to write a script that discusses brief history, the two main concepts as well as provide some examples; I frequently found myself at over 10 minutes. I really had to challenge myself to discern what could be cut from the presentation and allow all concepts to be clearly understood. I re-wrote my script at least 20 times after I started filming; each time cutting something out or re-working something to make it read quicker. Ill admit, I’m still not sure I succeeded in explaining some of the concepts as well as I would have liked but I also don’t know what else I would have cut. If you have any follow up questions or would like any clarity after watching the video. please ask in the comments. I feel that there are aspects of behaviorism that are crucial to being a successful teacher, however at the high education level specifically, you can not depend on these techniques alone.

So here it is, Behaviorism Explained. The presentation was made with Prezi and then screen recorded with Screencast-O-Matic. Enjoy!

What The Best College Teachers Do


Ken Bain looks to paint a philosophical picture of what college teaching could be. In his book “What The Best College Teachers Do”, Bain provides a goldmine of statements and phrases to assist any teacher in developing a thought process that leads to a successful model of teaching. In over 15 years of research, Bain interviewed professors, students, looked at course evaluations, syllabi and colleague’s statements to attempt to identify what made these college teachers the best. Bain uses six seemingly innocent questions such as “How Do They Prepare to Teach”, as the basis for reflection on what he has learned during this process. This book was not written to tell the reader about how these teachers run their classrooms but rather how they think that leads them teach in the manner they do. One of Bain’s core principles in writing this book was to “inspire readers to make systematic and reflective appraisal of their own teaching approaches and strategies.” (Bain, 21) In my opinion, Bain was able to accomplish this task; leading me to question and process through some of my personal teaching philosophies. This book offers a multitude of great resources about how to develop a “successful learning environment”, however there also elements that may be challenging to implement in many college classrooms. There are many topics he discusses in great detail but in the following paragraphs I will break down the two concepts I found to be the most challenging in my experience and examine how they fit with my previous conceptions.


Bain suggests early in his book that the best teachers foster a desire to learn through intrinsic motivators rather than extrinsic motivators. He explains that in many college classrooms grades are used as a system of rewards and punishments that can cause students to feel manipulated by the evaluation of their learning. This manipulation can cause the students to focus only on the letters and numbers of a class instead of the knowledge that they are gaining. An interesting study by Edward L. Deci and colleagues looked at groups of students doing a puzzle with or without the extrinsic motivator of money. The results showed that regardless of the presence of intrinsic motivation, “most extrinsic motivators damage intrinsic motivation”(Bain, 33). If a student wants to learn and grades are given without any explanation or the students are left to wonder about the rationale behind the grade it could cause this damage to intrinsic motivation. I think in many cases that rather than the extrinsic motivation doing damage; the faculty member is instead just utilizing it in an ineffective manner. There are two cases that if utilized correctly, grades or other extrinsic factors could greatly benefit the student. First, in order for intrinsic motivation to be damaged, there must be intrinsic motivation initially. From the students’ point of view, there may be many of the college required introductory level core classes that they do not have or do not care to retain the knowledge of the subject being taught. Extrinsic motivators might be the only tool teachers have to begin with to reach these students. The threat of a failing grade and having to retake the class can encourage that student to participate and potentially learn. In my opinion, there is another potential in this scenario. That is the potential for extrinsic motivators to develop intrinsic motivation. When grades are used during the educational process to as a marker of the progress that is being made this can demonstrate developmental learning in the student. When positive grades are paired with enthusiasm and authenticity from the professor, a student can begin to care about the topic and develop their own intrinsic motivation.


A second concept that Bain discusses is the idea of student learning versus students’ memorization of information from teachers in a “banking model”. He states:

“Whereas some professors might see their job as teaching the facts, concepts, and procedures of their subject, the teachers we studied emphasized the pursuit of answers to important questions and often encouraged students to use the methodologies, assumptions, and concepts from a variety of fields to solve complex problems.” (Bain, 45)

I agree with the general concept that Bain has identified in these teachers. It is best when we can encourage our students to synthesize and discover the answers on their own. However, I think that he overgeneralizes  and oversimplifies this concept in the college classroom. As we discussed in our last class meaning, part of a professor’s job is to teach students how to learn and how to utilize specific pieces of information. In my field, there are pieces of information such as the symptoms or personality traits for certain disabilities that are easiest to learn through memorization. As discussed in my teaching philosophy, this is information that is used primarily in a recall format. One example could be, when I see a person with hypersensitivity to noise or light paired with self-injurious coping behaviors, I assume this individual has autism based on a list of symptoms I have learned. There is no further development or synthesis of this information needed. You could in theory learn this through discovery and various methodologies, but the most efficient method is the “banking model”. It would be interesting to see a breakdown of the percentage of upper level or lower level courses that the identified teachers were teaching. It is often in the upper level classes where my teaching focus switches from a recall to an application focus. In these classes I work with the students to apply the concepts and use their own assumptions to develop skills and techniques based on these initially learned “facts, concepts and procedures”. Bain states that “the power to remember increases as comprehension and the use of that understanding in reasoning grows”. (Bain, 84) In addition though, this reasoning requires a higher level of educational development that must be taught before it can be utilized.


All in all, Ken Bain accomplishes exactly what he wanted to. In the spirit of full disclosure, there are many more aspects of this book that I disagreed with upon the initial reading. I had to then remind myself that Bain’s goal was to challenge our thinking and to get away from the thought processes of traditional education. It was also hard to remember, though he stated it at the beginning that each professor he studied did not encompass all of the thought processes he discussed. Each one had their strengths and weakness, but they had learned how to use each of them to their advantage to create a successful classroom. After reading this book, it is clear that some of my thoughts on not just teaching but also the college experience for students needs to change. In fact, Bain frequently reminds the reader that good teaching is not born, but one can learn to be a great teacher. He continues to state this fact in the most difficult part of the book for me to read. In the epilogue, Bain is forward and brutally honest about what we can learn from the rest of the book. In this section he pleads with the reader to be honest with themselves and try to learn as they are asking their students to do. He challenges us to recognize that we all fail, and we don’t like to admit it. But failure is not the end of the story, the best teachers take those failures and make changes so it doesn’t happen again. There is one paragraph that summarizes the book perfectly for me. I am going to copy that paragraph below. I may have disagreed with him at points and gotten frustrated as I became more uncomfortable with my current teaching habits, however I can say that my thoughts on teaching have been challenged and I will try to model these thought processes whenever I can.


“…teaching is not just delivering lectures but anything we might do that helps and encourages students to learn—without doing them any major harm. That demands a fundamental conceptual shift in what we mean by teaching. If you ask many academics how they define teaching, they will often talk about “transmitting” knowledge, as if teaching is telling. That’s a comforting way of thinking about it because it leaves us completely in control; if we tell them, we’ve taught them. To benefit from what the best teachers do, however we must embrace a different model, one in which teaching occurs only when learning takes place…That sounds like hard work, and it is a little scary because we don’t have complete control over who we are, but it is highly rewarding and obtainable.” (Bain, 173)




My Three Beliefs of Teaching

My students and I grabbing lunch after class

When I first began teaching, I found myself treating each class more like research session than an educational lecture. Following each lecture I would use the skills I had learned in my clinical training to evaluate how I did during that independent class. I took data over specific skills or topics that I hoped to address in each class meeting and analyzed my effectiveness using this data. Over time, I realized that there is more to being an educator than meeting specific goals or having the students identify desired academic concepts. As I now look back over my five years as a college educator and look towards those professors who have shaped my teaching style; I recognize three beliefs that I feel are crucial to being an effective educator.

The first belief is that any good educator must be diverse in their delivery of instruction and evaluation of students’ comprehension. In my classroom, I utilize a discussion based lecture style where students can decide how active in the lecture they would like to be based on their understanding of the current topic. It also allows the students to participate in a manner that best addresses their specific learning style. This discussion-based lecture follows the given textbook and gives me the flexibility to manipulate the lecture and clinical examples in real time to increase comprehension. In regards to student evaluation, there are two ways that students need to be able to utilize given information. The first is in a recall format, which is appropriate for information that needs to be used on an as needed basis such as population characteristics or intervention names. The second is an application format, which is appropriate for information that would be used more frequently in music therapy applications such as intervention protocols or techniques. It is up to the educator to vary the style of evaluation and discern which style is most appropriate for the given topics.

The second belief is that a personal connection between professors and students can strengthen learning. In the world of academia, some students find professors intimidating or unapproachable. This can inhibit the students learning, as they are hesitant to get any assistance or clarification they may need. Personal contact with the students is essential to my ability to teach successfully. Students often need continuous encouragement to talk to their professors. I display a willingness to help with any problems students may have with various aspects of their education by emphasizing my availability to meet during office hours or even over a coffee at Starbucks. I believe that this interaction is one way that professors can extend their teaching outside of the typical classroom setting. Through a desire to get to know the students and by actively demonstrating a willingness to help them, I can directly model the therapeutic personality that I am asking them to develop.

It is my belief that as educators we are to challenge each student academically, professionally, and personally. Through my experience, I have seen that a student’s personal thoughts and motivations can influence success in the classroom. One definition of success is the meeting of pre-determined goals. These goals are based on each student’s personal expectations for the class and their abilities. I believe that through the previously mentioned personal connections and by consistently expressing our expectations; educators can raise the standards of success for each student. Academically, I have done this by encouraging each student to take pride in their educational performance and challenging them to never let the easy answer be the best answer. Professionally, I encourage the students to get involved on campus and in the American Music Therapy Association. I help them to understand that they are the future of this field and they can have a direct input on the important decisions that will have to be made by getting involved. Personally, I stress to each student that all aspects of ones life must be in balance. Professional burnout is a problem in my field, therefore each student must develop their own leisure skills and coping strategies to handle the various stressors and emotions they will encounter.

Equally as importantly as each of these beliefs is independently though, is the belief that none of these is more important than another. When these beliefs are combined and utilized together in a classroom, it creates an optimal atmosphere for learning. An atmosphere where students can engage in ways they feel are appropriate without fear of repercussion, where they know that I will do whatever I can to help them succeed and where we as a class are working together to make each student the best version of themselves. These three beliefs drive me to be the best educator that I can and I strive to follow them in each semester, class and individual lecture.