Composing: providing feedback
In response to the stimuli provided, the students began work on their compositions. As an example of the kind of work produced in these learning environments, I present a piece by one of my learners:
When this learner had passed the initial stages of composition and the piece began to take on a life of its own, I provided formative assessment in a variety of ways. For example, the learner might come in during lunch time and we would sit and discuss what might come next in the piece. On other occasions I ensured that I provided constant listening stimuli to the learners that might give further inspiration. In this instance I advised that the learner listen to Act 1, Scene 1 of John Adam's Nixon in China. Both pieces use ostinati which are based on the note A. However, John Adam's use of modal harmony could have pushed the learner's piece in other direction. Music for 18 Musicians was also suggested to aid with the percussion writing and cross rhythms. Thus the influence of Reich can be heard in the piece.
The composition unit is marked internally as a pass/fail. Many learners had worked consistently (and lovingly!) on their compositions and the coldness of 'pass/fail' didn't feel to me to do this learning process justice. In seeking to honour their hard work I decided to assess their pieces in a way in which the learner knew that I had taken time to interact and appreciate their creativity and to provide them with rich feedback which could inform future compositions.
To this end, I created a simple outline and completed upon listening to their pieces. Many learners, like the student who composed the piece above, was very enthusiastic to get such detailed feedback as they felt it gave more credit to their work.
It should be noted that I have provided feedback for assessment via Explain Everything (in a way similar to the video here), but this class did not have iPads, so paper had to do!