Sunday, January 10, 2010

How Portfolios Build Value in Your Instrumental Program

By Mark T. Burke

Portfolios have long been a valuable tool in education.  What once was thought of as a homeschooling only requirement, portfolios have made their way into brick and mortar schools as high stakes graduation requirements. The benefits of maintaining a portfolio are many for students, teachers, parents and educational systems.  By nature, portfolios are designed to showcase the efforts of the TOTAL student.  In other words, a student's accomplishments are not shown by Math, English, Science and standardized testing alone.  True student success is only demonstrated through how they synthesize their total knowledge and skills into valuable projects and products. The best portfolios show how students perform and apply their skills.  It would seem obvious that musical performance would be an inclusion in a student's portfolio.  However, of the many I have reviewed, few included musical examples.  I've seen some that included programs from concerts of performances, but they simply don't demonstrate a student's real musical abilities.

A quality portfolio...

...provides vision into a students ability to perform or produce a product.
...showcases student improvement over time with examples from each phase of their learning.
...ties together student performance, instructor feedback, student improvement and evaluation (grades).

If your students are producing portfolios for your school, their efforts in your instrumental music program should be included.  Students work very hard to improve their musical abilities and those abilities help build better people.  If you are looking for ways to ensure student's musical skills and the value of your program are recognized at the highest level of your school, you need portfolios in your program.

Each viaAcademies course includes several portfolio building tools to help your students demonstrate their musical skills.  We provide:
  1. A secure and convenient online student environment accessible anywhere, anytime.
  2. A teacher access account for viewing details and submissions by students within your program
  3. An interactive submission process allowing you as the teacher to make comments on student submission.
  4. A clear set of assignments guiding students on what exercises to include in their portfolio.
  5. The needed student software for recording their musical exercises.
  6. A teacher managed gradebook for assessing each submission
  7. Long term students and teacher access options. (a small fee is charged for access past the 12 month standard enrollment period).
Showcasing the student's music portfolio is as easy as logging in as the student or teacher and accessing the collection of student assignments.  The student recordings, teacher feedback, corrected assignments and grades are all tied together, demonstrating the students progress over time.  The student recordings can also be downloaded from the course and added to a CD for distribution if so desired, the options are many.

Do you currently help your students build an instrumental music portfolio? How can portfolios help add value to your program? 


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