Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Self-Assessment Inventory For Using Drumming In The School Setting

Self-assessment is always a valuable tool since we don't always have trusted and expert people around to help evaluate our activities. Here is a list of some things to think about after you decide to implement some kind of a drumming strategy in a special education setting. This assessment tool might be used by a music therapist, music teacher or teacher in the special education classroom. I have included some comments about each topic to help explain each one. You may want to grade yourself using a sliding scale or simply with a "yes" or "no." It may also be interesting and enlightening to take the self-test after several different occasions of using a drumming activity and then see how you have improved!

  • _____ Used clear hand signals
Regardless of the type of drumming activity, the facilitator should practice using clear and consistent gestures. Examples of this would be asking for changes in volume or indicating that a certain individual or group of individuals should play or stop.
  • _____ Provided clear verbal instructions

Attention should be given to the arrangement and seating of the group so that spoken instructions are always provided while facing the intended communication partner. Verbal instructions should be spoken with enough volume in order to be heard above the drumming or else stop the drumming before speaking.

  • _____ Provided a clear start/stop signal

Start and stop signals can be done verbally or with any number of different hand gestures. Choose something and be consistent and remember that large gestures for start and stop are preferred. Counting off, "1, 2, ready, play!" and "4, 3, 2, 1, stop!" can be very effective when combined with a gesture.

  • _____ Demonstrated a useful intervention for a targeted goal/objective.

How did the activity go? Did the intervention appropriately address the student's IEP objectives?

  • _____ Incorporated an adaptation or a strategy for the education setting into the drumming activity.

How well did you facilitate students with disabilities to be successful in the group? Visual aids, adapted instruments or instrument holders and careful selection of peer models/helpers are all important parts of a successful drumming activity.

  • _____ Exhibited overall confidence/preparedness

Confidence and comfort level in leading a drumming activity can be one of the most important elements of a successful activity. Excitement is contagious! Did you have a plan for a sequence of events during the drumming so that there was not too much "dead" time?

  • _____ Provided verbal or gestural praise to participants when appropriate

Teachers and therapists should always be reviewing their use of positive reinforcement. Drumming activities usually provide many opportunities for giving out both verbal and non-verbal praise. A simple smile or thumbs up to an individual is appropriate for the situation during drumming when verbal praise might not be clearly heard. Practice providing both individual and group praise.

  • _____ Used appropriate level of rhythm complexity, drum technique and age appropriate activity for targeted population
Modeling some sample drum rhythms and keeping the rhythms short will help everyone to feel confident and successful. Be discrete in using instruments, especially in the upper grade levels. Some students may not want to play on a kid's djembe that has a childish fabric finish, even if it sounds good!

  • _____ Established a clear transfer of idea(s) between the activity and the group discussion
Take the time to point out a topic or idea that can be related to the activity. Sometimes a key word like, "teamwork," or "complimentary," spontaneously presents itself during an activity and can be used to transition from the instrument activity to a discussion.

  • _____ Successfully demonstrated a drum skill or therapeutic strategy (i.e., adapted instrument strategy, behavior management, modeling leadership skills, etc.)
Were you looking for opportunities to help someone play an instrument correctly or encourage peer leadership? Drumming activities are a great motivator for behavior management programs. Did you include the drumming as a reward and use good judgment in handling inappropriate behaviors during the activity?

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