Elementary music classes are a vital part of the American public school system, and a testament to our belief in teaching the “whole child.” Unfortunately, due to testing pressures, budget constraints, and other competing priorities, music teachers often feel overwhelmed in teaching performance skills, aesthetic expression and understanding, and a written, symbolic, and mathematical language in the limited time available.
One important, yet time-intensive task, is student assessment. Since music is a performance art, authentic assessments require demonstrating musical skills. If a teacher takes just 3 minutes for each student in a 500-student elementary school to assess a rhythmic or melodic skill, that is 1500 minutes or 25 hours of instructional time spent on one round of testing.
Unison.School was designed to help. Technology cannot and should not replace a skilled, creative music teacher, but it can lessen the assessment load. With Unison.School’s assessments, teachers can assign students to log into a device and take a short rhythmic or melodic test at their own pace. Grades are automatically saved to a digital gradebook, with no further effort.
This allows the teacher to test an entire class in a short period of time (10-15 minutes) given 1-1 or a cart full of devices. In situations with fewer devices, students can take turns doing the test in one part of the music room while the teacher continues instruction to the rest of the class. Either way, a great deal of time is saved.
Unison.School also includes a complete gradebook with customizable rubrics for teacher-designed assessments, and a lesson planner that helps teachers organize their creative ideas. As with the assessments, our goal is to make the teaching process more streamlined and efficient.
Finally, students get excited about the tools on Unison.School as well! The digital xylophone, piano, music staff, and rhythm builder all provide self-directed practice opportunities from any device, at school or even at home.
Cedar River Tech strives to be the professional technology support company for elementary music teachers. Our web app, Unison.School, is an affordable, multi-faceted tool for teachers and their students, including lesson planning, scheduling, grading, and digital assessments. The driving force behind CRT is to make teaching easier, and give creative teachers more time to engage their students in active, creative music-making activities. We do not believe that technology can replace human interaction, but recognize that time and institutional constraints placed on classes leave too many teachers and students frustrated and unengaged. By offloading specific planning, testing, and simple concept-learning to technology, we hope to give students and teachers more in-class time for creative work. Our motto is “With planning and testing out of the way, there’s more time to sing and play!”