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Tia Johnson

Dr. LaVoy
C&T 803
9 August 2016
As a new teacher in a district with no set music curriculum, my focus for my first two
years had primarily been on creating a curricular framework that fit the needs of my students
while satisfying standards set by my school and community. After two years, I have
successfully done this and developed materials that students will engage with throughout the
year. Because I work with students from 1st-5th grade, I can now expect to know
approximately 4/5ths of my student body going into each new year. Having completed these
goals going into my 3rd year of teaching, taking a course in differentiation was a natural step
towards reevaluating the framework I have set out and finding ways to manipulate and
implement it in a way that is most beneficial for my students.
One of the big ideas I have taken away from interacting with materials and my colleagues
throughout this course is the importance of demonstrating value for student input through
choice. While giving students more options for activities and assessments may take more
work in terms of planning and grading, it is one of the best ways to positively impact a
students educational experience. Whether this is through choice boards, student contracts,
student-developed rubrics, or another type of strategy that requires students to make
decisions about their learning, there are many benefits that can result for students of all
levels. Ideally, students will remain more engaged when working on an activity that they
chose and feel best fits their personal interests and individual level of readiness. Choice also
allows the student to develop a sense of control which translates to ownership of the process
and product of their efforts. This effectively keeps students engaged during student work

time and helps to create an environment where they feel valued. Overall, this results in a
more meaningful experience for students and leads to better retention of the actual material
and development of skills themselves.
In order to make sure that students do not lose sight of the main ideas for each lesson or
unit of study, clear communication of objectives will be employed. If within a classroom
students are working on many diverse projects and tasks this may be easy to lose track of, for
both the students and teacher. Some students may also wonder why they are receiving
different work than their peers. Establishing communication upfront of what our objectives
are will be essential to ensure that the classroom continues to function in an efficient manner.
Currently in my classroom, I post objectives for each grade level so that students know what
they are focusing on when they come to class each day. Forms of support that have a written
component, such as graphic organizers, or rubrics, can be created to clearly display
objectives for students as well. Making an explicit connection during instruction between the
work we do and how it helps us reach our objectives will also be another step to help
reinforce this in students minds. It will also help students understand that, while process and
product may differ from student to student, we are all working towards mastery of the same
Within a music classroom at the elementary level formative assessment is the most
important form of assessment. An argument could be made that it is also almost exclusively
the only form of assessment used. I have created a spiral curriculum for my students, where
each unit helps students to develop and reinforce prior skills and concepts with varied focus
throughout the year. This process continues as students move on to the next grade level. Each
year, we expand upon foundational music knowledge and skills in order to further increase

our understanding, application, and creation, as related to various aspects of the musical
world. Because of this, student learning is never done. Pre-assessment can be used when
students first enter 1st grade, or at the beginning of the year to see what students have
retained; however these are still continuations of student understanding. Summative
assessments can also be given, but these too focus more on the skills, such as composition,
that we will continue to develop during the next unit versus recall of specific isolated facts.
Daily formative assessment, both formal and informal, helps me to maintain accurate records
of my students current ability level in regards to various objectives. I can then continue to
modify future objectives, activities, and assessments to best fit their educational needs.
In conclusion, this course has reinforced ideals of best practice and given me tools to
implement them effectively. As a teacher, understanding that students possess varying levels
of needs is a crucial step in providing sound instruction. From there, one can develop
curriculum and strategies that best support each student. With collaborative reflection on the
strategies examined in this course, I have gained more knowledge about each, as well as
inspiration for how I can apply them to fit the needs of students in my classroom. I look
forward to implementing more of these strategies with a renewed sense of how
differentiation connects to best instructional practice.