Possible Portfolio Contents
Long-term set of reflections in which students jot down a few notes about musical improvements that take place, individually or with the ensemble. Reflections can be written during the ensemble class, at times when students are not actively playing. Forms can be devised so students only have to write a few words for each class. Students and teachers can gain valuable insight into their musical progress when examining past observations.
Simple calendar on which students keep track of their practice times.
Single reflection sheets to be filled out periodically during the grading period that allow students to summarize their progress, discuss their challenges, and make plans for future improvements. Questionnaires can be constructed differently for the beginning, middle, and end of a grading period.
Reflections forms that can be filled out after a performance so students may evaluate what went well, what could have been improved, and what were unexpected challenges.
Ensemble Rehearsal Critiques:
Short, in-class reflections in which students evaluate individual and group performance with regard to specific musical elements, and make practicing and rehearsal plans based on their observations.
Collection of shorter in-class writings and reflections that deal with a specific musical element or concept.
Teacher or student evaluations of a students performance of ensemble music. Evaluations can be written by the student and the teacher, can be performed in or out of class, and can be focused on specific musical elements.
Of course, many other types of portfolio materials can be devised to meet the needs of different music programs. The portfolio can be thought of as a framework for collecting different kinds of assessments that allows students, teachers, and parents to clearly see how a student is developing. Because students can easily become involved in this process, they can actively determine their own strategies for improvement, and can develop critical musical thinking skills. As an assessment tool, portfolios can add a great deal to an ensemble class without taking the emphasis away from performing, and can provide valuable insights into how students are thinking about music.