Engaging students in assessment at Pool Hayes Academy

By Alex Hodges, Music teacher

At Pool Hayes Academy, music teacher Alex Hodges has been using Doddle to embed a new approach to assessment in music. Alex has been RAG (red, amber, green) rating individual skill statements to track students’ strengths and weaknesses each lesson and giving her students the opportunity and incentive to make meaningful progress.

At the beginning of the day I log into Doddle, then simply pull up each class that I see. As students enter the classroom they can see what they were on last lesson and where they’re aiming to get to this lesson. I also display the Doddle screen on the board during the lessons so that students can see what progress they have made in real time. It really motivates students in a way I haven’t seen before!”

Alex is finding there are several benefits of using the Doddle platform to track students’ strengths and weaknesses.

The kids see in real time how they’re doing and they don’t want to disappoint themselves or staff. They’re more engaged as they can see where they are on the board and they’re paying more attention to it. Particularly in music, it’s the performing aspect kids haven’t always been confident enough to try or push themselves to do in the past. They’re more willing to give it a go now because they can see they can improve their RAG ratings if they do.

With Year 8 for example, we’re composing our own pieces at the moment. Before, students wouldn’t have been very willing to play what they’ve got but now that I’m using Doddle, students give it a go! I update their Doddle RAG data as they’re performing and you hear them walking out of class saying things like “Yes! I got a green!”. Students are really coming on now and wanting to do well. I couldn’t even say that it’s low, middle or high ability students that are affected – it’s impacting all of them. One student who hadn’t ever participated, and wasn’t interested in doing well in music, is now asking for extra help and really pushing himself because he can see where he is and can see the skills he needs to work on to succeed!

Another bonus, is that from Alex’s point of view this has not just had a positive impact on the students in her classes but it has also impacted positively on her.

It’s so easy to do, I just do it in the lesson so my time has been freed up to focus more on planning. It allows me to maximise teaching time which is difficult when you only see each class once a week, and I’m not letting students down. They really understand that every lesson counts now – it’s not a case of waiting for the assessment lesson to come along and then they focus, they’re focussed every lesson on making progress. Before Doddle it was sometimes difficult to assess in music because you would assess at the end of a topic but now I assess with the kids in front of me as they’re demonstrating skills and as I’m seeing them.

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