Tuesday, January 4, 2011

An Interesting SmartMusic Grade Book Report Feature: Time Spent.


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I was reviewing assignments that I had collected in the SmartMusic Gradebook, when I noticed an interesting feature:  "Time Spent" is one of the items reported!

This has always been a feature in SmartMusic, but you needed to set it up before you sent the assignment. I frequently forgot to set that up.  Now it just happens.

I am not a huge fan of practice time in the sense of we need you to practice "X" number of hours per week.  "X" is sometimes too long for a few of my students and more frequently too short for others.  I like to think my goal is prepared students (as in know their part: right notes, correct rhythms, good tone.)

It is easier to get kids to buy into "ready" than it is to buy into "spend lots of time."

The Time Spent number implies the computer was on and listening.  It may not be all the practice time spent on the assignment.  Or, you may be getting "played."  Start the program and put the mic next to the radio so it hears something.

This number is probably not very useful evaluation material if you use it for grading.

So what would I use this number for?

Well, it is a conversation starter.  "I noticed you got the assignment done pretty fast there...." followed by a "good for you" or "you won't mind spending a little more time to get it right."... can be excellent motivators.  It is also easy to recognize the rewards of hard work.  "It took a while for you to get this, thanks for putting in the time!"

It is also good to know Time Spent as a teacher.  Is there something I should be working at in class to help these kids get and apply this concept quicker?  Lots of time spent on an assignment by multiple students may give you some hints on your pedagogy.

If you are wondering about SmartMusic for your program, I recommend it.  If you are wondering about the Educator tools being worth the cost, I wouldn't use SmartMusic without them.  They are worth the cost.

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