Reflection: Student Ownership Creating Group Soundtracks to Investigate Theme & Character - Section 1: Introduction


Though I, too, routinely give exams or assign essays as summative assessments to show student mastery of concepts, there is no rule that says that summative assessments MUST be this way.  This soundtrack project is one I've been thinking about for years, but until we went to a 1:1 system, just the headache of fighting it out with the rest of the building for the computer lab would have prevented such a unique, engaging summative assessment.  One of the things that I love about the Common Core is that it gives us such clear statements about what students must be able to DO.  Since many of the literature standards require evidence-based analysis, it makes sense that we need to test how well students can utilize evidence-based analysis.  While I could do this in a more formal essay, I chose to incorporate other unique multimedia elements of the Common Core to really jazz this project up.  It still tests the same things--whether or not my students can use evidence to correctly analyze The Great Gatsby's text features--but it's WAY more interesting and complex.  It also promotes a deeper sense of understanding than your average essay does for students who are so visual and music-based.

One way that I really tried to set students up for success for this summative assessment was to require them to make detailed, evidenced character maps.  They will use these maps to really root their analysis work in the text.  Another step in making sure these projects will turn out well is letting them know about the project (at least in a conceptual way) a good week or two in advance.  Since it's a more complex project, students need time to let their ideas "percolate," especially as their understanding of characters is consistently evolving.  Finally, showing them an example and providing all of the grading material up front is key to helping students see that their project will ultimately have to be more than just a list of songs.  Without previewing and giving them time to consider these things, my students may completely misinterpret the assignment, which would then invalidate the results of my summative assessment.

  Spicing Up Summative Assessment with Performance Tasks
  Student Ownership: Spicing Up Summative Assessment with Performance Tasks
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Creating Group Soundtracks to Investigate Theme & Character

Unit 9: Is Gatsby Really so "Great"?
Lesson 10 of 12

Objective: SWBAT track the progression of theme & tone in The Great Gatsby using textual evidence within small groups, then match the progression with related songs and images.

Big Idea: Spice up tracking progression of themes in Gatsby with an added musical layer of synthesis and plenty of collaboration!

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chord progression 2
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