LIVING ASSESSMENT: The artful assessment of learning in the arts by MATTHEW YANKO B.A., The University of British Columbia, 2006 B.Ed., The University of British Columbia, 2007 M.A., The University of British Columbia, 2015 A DISSERTATION SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDIES (Curriculum Studies) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) April 2021 © Matthew Yanko, 2021 ii The following individuals certify that they have read, and recommend to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for acceptance, the dissertation entitled: Living assessment: The artful assessment of learning in the arts submitted by Matthew Yanko in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (Curriculum Studies) Examining Committee: Peter Gouzouasis, Curriculum and Pedagogy, UBC Supervisor George Belliveau, Language and Literacy Education, UBC Supervisory Committee Member Rita Irwin, Curriculum and Pedagogy, UBC Supervisory Committee Member Rena Sharon, School of Music, UBC University Examiner Laurie Ford, Early Childhood Education, UBC University Examiner iii Abstract Arts learning experiences often embrace a canvas of colourful interpretations and creativity that necessitate assessment practices unique to the arts. However, conventional practices (i.e., rating scales, rubrics, and checklists) struggle, or are unable, to meaningfully assess students’ creativity, imagination, and meaning making (Gouzouasis & Yanko, 2018b; Yanko & Gouzouasis, 2020). Therefore, guided by a framework of artography and autoethnography, I developed a novel, formative means of assessment grounded in artistic thinking, doing, and making—living assessment. Living assessment encourages l’art pour l’art, and is rooted in underpinnings of pedagogical documentation, learning stories, and living inquiry. That foundation evokes three guideposts—documentation, artistry, and augmentation—to support teachers as they engage with artistic practices, tools, and frameworks to creatively illuminate values and judgments of their students’ creativity, imagination, and meaning making in arts learning experiences. Over the course of a school year, I composed over 500 creative non-fictional, autoethnographies of my journey with living assessment. The stories focus on the artful assessments of Kindergarten, Grade 1, Grade 4/5, and Grade 6 student music learning experiences. Findings from the study illuminate how this practice of assessment respects and values the individual child and enables a democratic means of assessment for the entire learning community. This inquiry also elucidates how living assessment advocates meaning making through the arts, which better corresponds with the learning at hand, and with children’s cognitive capacities—i.e., through play-based learning, drawing, painting, music, and drama. In our learning community, many of the students saturated themselves in the aesthetics of art making, and were able to respond to what they made and learned through aesthetic criticisms iv (Yanko & Gouzouasis, 2020). Moreover, living assessment provides opportunities for parents to participate in and better support their child’s learning and meaning making. Artfully inspired, autoethnographic assessment practices also enable an ongoing reflexive process of professional development for the teacher. What is more, I came to understand that living assessment not only supports a practice that is creative, playful, and discursive, but also entices young learners to experience joy, wonder, and passion with the arts through an ongoing participation in the art of living assessment. v Lay Summary Disheartened with traditional assessment practices for arts learning experiences, I investigated the potentials of a new practice of assessment—living assessment. Over the course of a school year, I investigated the potentials of living assessment with students from Kindergarten to Grade 6. Living assessment involves the teacher turning to artistic approaches to illuminate the values and judgments of students’ creativity, imagination, and meaning making in artistic endeavours. This practice is scaffolded by three guideposts—documentation, artistry, and augmentation—that support the teacher as they creatively document their student’s learning and meaning making, then take the accumulated documentation to create an artistic assessment. That assessment piece is then shared and discussed with the student, their classmates, and parents to further their learning and understandings about learning. Findings illuminate that living assessment is an inclusive, tangible means of assessment for creative arts learning experiences for all students within a classroom community. vi Preface This dissertation is original, unpublished, and independent work by the author, Matt Yanko. This research was conducted with the approval of the UBC Behavioural Research Ethics Board (January 9, 2019) and was granted a Minimal Risk status. Project Title: Living assessment: An autoethnography on assessment rooted in pedagogical documentation, learning stories, and living inquiry Certificate # H18-02451 This research was made possible through the generous funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for “Learning assessment in early childhood music education” (2018-2021). vii Table of Contents Abstract ......................................................................................................................................... iii Lay Summary ................................................................................................................................ v Preface ........................................................................................................................................... vi Table of Contents ........................................................................................................................ vii List of Figures ............................................................................................................................... xi List of Digital Media .................................................................................................................. xiv Acknowledgements .................................................................................................................... xvi Chapter 1: A didactic film score .................................................................................................. 1 1.1 Opening credits ............................................................................................................... 1 1.2 The tone of the plot ......................................................................................................... 5 1.3 The protagonists .............................................................................................................. 7 1.4 The deuteragonist .......................................................................................................... 12 1.5 Revealing the setting ..................................................................................................... 13 1.6 And scene! .................................................................................................................... 16 1.7 Research questions ........................................................................................................ 18 1.8 Overview of chapters .................................................................................................... 18 Chapter 2: Contrapuntal ruminations on an arts based methodological framework .......... 22 2.1 Qualitative methods ...................................................................................................... 22 2.2 Artography: Primary methodological melody .............................................................. 24 2.3 Autoethnography: A second methodological melody ................................................... 32 2.4 Learning story: A complementary melodic motif ......................................................... 37 2.5 Codetta .......................................................................................................................... 40 viii Chapter 3: The foundations of living assessment .................................................................... 44 3.1 A review of research in assessment .............................................................................. 44 3.2 Assessment in music education ................................................................................... 45 3.3 Assessment in the visual arts ........................................................................................ 51 3.4 Alternative ways of assessing learning ......................................................................... 53 3.5 Living assessment ......................................................................................................... 59 3.6 Ruminations .................................................................................................................. 74 Chapter 4: The inception of living assessment ......................................................................... 76 4.1 Prelude .......................................................................................................................... 76 4.2 Giving life to the documentation wall .......................................................................... 76 4.3 Blog post: Our first exploration of the creek ................................................................ 80 4.4 Blog post: Mapping Boston Creek with loose parts ..................................................... 82 4.5 Blog post: A lament for Slugly ..................................................................................... 86 4.6 Blog post: Recreating the timbres of the creek ............................................................. 86 4.7 Picture boxes, text blocks, and speech bubbles: The pedagogical comic ..................... 88 4.8 Augmenting my foundations of assessment ................................................................. 93 4.9 From the second to the third dimension: The living documentation ............................ 94 4.10 Re-sounding the music at the creek: Reflexively understanding digital documentation ............................................................................................................... 98 4.11 Turning the pages of the pedagogical comic: Reflexive considerations ..................... 100 4.12 A reflective interlude .................................................................................................. 104 Chapter 5: Amplifying the performing arts through living assessment .............................. 107 5.1 A prologue to our school production .......................................................................... 107 ix 5.2 An assessment in song ................................................................................................ 109 5.3 Discussion on music based assessments ..................................................................... 114 5.4 A scripted musical theatre assessment ........................................................................ 117 5.5 Discussion on theatre based assessments .................................................................... 123 5.6 An epilogue on the ramifications of performing-arts assessments ............................. 128 Chapter 6: Autoethnographic learning stories and eBook assessments .............................. 134 6.1 Prologue to story ......................................................................................................... 134 6.2 Beyond text blocks ...................................................................................................... 135 6.3 Kindergarten learning story 1 ..................................................................................... 136 6.4 Kindergarten learning story 2 ..................................................................................... 138 6.5 Kindergarten learning story 3 ..................................................................................... 139 6.6 Kindergarten learning story 4 ..................................................................................... 141 6.7 Grade 1 learning story 1 .............................................................................................. 144 6.8 Grade 1 learning story 2 .............................................................................................. 145 6.9 Grade 1 learning story 3 .............................................................................................. 146 6.10 Grade 1 learning story 4 .............................................................................................. 147 6.11 Grade 1 learning story 5 .............................................................................................. 149 6.12 Grade 4/5 learning story 1 ........................................................................................... 150 6.13 Grade 4/5 learning story 2 ........................................................................................... 152 6.14 Grade 4/5 learning story 3 ........................................................................................... 153 6.15 Grade 6 learning story 1 .............................................................................................. 155 6.16 Grade 6 learning story 2 .............................................................................................. 157 6.17 Grade 6 learning story 3 .............................................................................................. 158 x 6.18 Grade 6 learning story 4 .............................................................................................. 160 6.19 Discourse on the autoethnographic learning story ...................................................... 161 6.20 The eBook assessment ................................................................................................ 168 6.21 Discourse on the eBook assessment ........................................................................... 172 6.22 Rousing the harmonics of story: An epilogue ............................................................. 177 Chapter 7: Parent and student feedback on the learning story ............................................ 182 7.1 Introduction ................................................................................................................. 182 7.2 A story on storying student feedback .......................................................................... 183 7.3 Storying parent feedback ............................................................................................ 199 Chapter 8: Discourse on the development of living assessment ........................................... 225 8.1 A ritenuto prologue ..................................................................................................... 225 8.2 A reflexive recapitulation on living assessment and its guideposts ............................ 225 8.3 Implications, impact, and future directions ................................................................. 241 8.4 Overview of the principal contributions of living assessment .................................... 257 8.5 A coda on living assessment ....................................................................................... 259 References .................................................................................................................................. 264 Appendices ................................................................................................................................. 300 Appendix A: UBC research ethics board certificate of approval ........................................... 301 Appendix B: School board research approval form ................................................................ 302 Appendix C: Parental consent form ........................................................................................ 303 Appendix D: Student assent form ........................................................................................... 306 xi List of Figures Figure 2.1 An artographic cello melody ....................................................................................... 25 Figure 2.2 The ArtistResearcherTeacher ...................................................................................... 27 Figure 2.3 Co-constructivist learning between child and teacher ................................................. 28 Figure 2.4 Theme and variations on interpretation ....................................................................... 30 Figure 2.5 Improvising on a theme and variations alla Carl Leggo .............................................. 31 Figure 2.6 An autoethnographic violin motif ............................................................................... 32 Figure 2.7 A musical interlude on verisimilitude ......................................................................... 37 Figure 2.8 A learning story violin melody .................................................................................... 37 Figure 2.9 An open cadence .......................................................................................................... 42 Figure 3.1 A documentation panel used by first grade students to help create a song about evolution ................................................................................................................. 54 Figure 4.1 Mapping the creek on table with found natural materials and loose parts ............................................................................................................................... 78 Figure 4.2 Students constructing their imaginary sewer portal .................................................... 78 Figure 4.3 Dramatic play with the sewer portal ............................................................................ 79 Figure 4.4 Making music in the sewer .......................................................................................... 79 Figure 4.5 Exploring the timbres of creek with sticks .................................................................. 81 Figure 4.6 Mapping the creek with loose parts—bridge section .................................................. 83 Figure 4.7 Mapping exploration of water with various sticks ...................................................... 85 Figure 4.8 Filling bucket with leaves, twigs, and pinecones ........................................................ 87 Figure 4.9 Comparing the sound of the shaking instrument to that of the creek .......................... 87 Figure 4.10 Making a song for the creek with sticks and a tub of water ...................................... 88 xii Figure 4.11 The opening pages of my first attempt at the pedagogical comic ............................. 89 Figure 4.12 Further into the pedagogical comic ........................................................................... 89 Figure 4.13 Opening pages of my second pedagogical comic ...................................................... 92 Figure 4.14 Further into the second pedagogical comic ............................................................... 92 Figure 6.1 Jason exploring the different timbres of the stump ................................................... 137 Figure 6.2 Derek rolls the stump across the floor to determine its sound .................................. 137 Figure 6.3 Daniel exploring inside the xylophone box ............................................................... 139 Figure 6.4 Hiroshi discovering the rounded surface of the xylophone bar ................................. 139 Figure 6.5 Counting the frets on the guitar and ukulele ............................................................. 140 Figure 6.6 Wyatt and Camila making a marble run using the guitar .......................................... 140 Figure 6.7 Jason playing his shaking instrument ........................................................................ 143 Figure 6.8 Camila taping her 8th note pattern ............................................................................ 143 Figure 6.9 Ava playing her half note pattern .............................................................................. 143 Figure 6.10 Stella rolling out the slime for Slugly ...................................................................... 145 Figure 6.11 Stella playing her half note music for Slugly on the xylophone ............................. 146 Figure 6.12 Isaac’s leaf music .................................................................................................... 146 Figure 6.13 Stella playing her many instruments ....................................................................... 147 Figure 6.14 Isaac playing his snowflake music .......................................................................... 147 Figure 6.15 Ellie playing her snowflake music .......................................................................... 147 Figure 6.16 Students recording their music ................................................................................ 148 Figure 6.17 Stella crawling like a slug ........................................................................................ 150 Figure 6.18 Ellie swaying like a tree with the support of her education assistant ...................... 150 Figure 6.19 Isaac hovering above Stella the slug ....................................................................... 150 xiii Figure 6.20 Henry and Mason playing their composition .......................................................... 151 Figure 6.21 Henry and Mason explaining their background accompaniment ............................ 151 Figure 6.22 The changes made to the boys’ composition ........................................................... 153 Figure 6.23 The boys recording their composition ..................................................................... 154 Figure 6.24 Levi strumming chords on ukulele while watching the film ................................... 156 Figure 6.25 Tom playing piano as the film unfolds .................................................................... 158 Figure 6.26 Allan awaiting to play his maraca part for the film score ....................................... 159 Figure 6.27 Mike and Levi strumming guitar and ukulele chords .............................................. 159 Figure 6.28 The group recording their film score ....................................................................... 161 Figure 7.1 Camila’s drawing of her tapping the tree .................................................................. 184 Figure 7.2 Wyatt’s drawing of Lucas and him exploring the guitar with marbles ..................... 184 Figure 7.3 John’s drawing of him saying rhythms ..................................................................... 184 Figure 7.4 Derek’s drawing of his friends and him playing music with the tree ........................ 186 Figure 7.5 Sample parent feedback form 1 ................................................................................. 200 Figure 7.6 Sample parent feedback form 2 ................................................................................. 201 Figure 7.7 Sample parent feedback form 3 ................................................................................. 202 xiv List of Digital Media Located in UBC cIRcle supplementary materials and errata collection, and on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLD2EgozsJ3ZvnCt-q1y6Z2zjrvUpCQNH2 1. Chapter 1: 1M1 – A prelude of curiosities (audio recording) 2. Chapter 1: 1M2 – An autumn sunrise (audio recording) 3. Chapter 1: 1M3 – Would Eisner value a metallophone more than a cello? (audio recording) 4. Chapter 1: 1M4 – An idée fixe in assessment (audio recording) 5. Chapter 1: 1M5 – A motif alla Elliot Eisner (audio recording) 6. Chapter 1: 1M6 – An openness to Aoki (audio recording) 7. Chapter 1: 1M7 – Lived space (audio recording) 8. Chapter 1: 1M8 – A playful motif (audio recording) 9. Chapter 1: 1M9 – A tug-o-war between learner and teacher (audio recording) 10. Chapter 1: 1M10 – An obligation to listen (audio recording) 11. Chapter 1: 1M11 – A provocation of colours, feelings, and music (audio recording) 12. Chapter 1: 1M12 – Documenting a provocation of colours, feelings, and music (audio recording) 13. Chapter 1: 1M13 – Reflections on the space where learning unfolds (audio recording) 14. Chapter 1: 1M14 – Ripples in my reflections (audio recording) 15. Chapter 1: 1M15 – A marble soundscape (audio recording) xv 16. Chapter 1: 1M16 – A fanfare for living assessment (audio recording) 17. Chapter 2: Track 1 – An artographic cello melody (audio recording) 18. Chapter 2: Track 2 – The ArtistResearcherTeacher (audio recording) 19. Chapter 2: Track 3 – Co-constructivist learning between child and teacher (audio recording) 20. Chapter 2: Track 4 – Theme and variations on interpretation (audio recording) 21. Chapter 2: Track 5 – Improvising on a theme and variations alla Carl Leggo (audio recording) 22. Chapter 2: Track 6 – An autoethnographic violin melody (audio recording) 23. Chapter 2: Track 7 – A musical interlude on verisimilitude (audio recording) 24. Chapter 2 Track 8 – A learning story violin motif (audio recording) 25. Chapter 2 Track 9 – An open cadence (audio recording) 26. Chapter 4 – Mapping Sewer (video recording) 27. Chapter 4 – Shaking instrument for map (video recording) 28. Chapter 4 – A lament for Slugly (video recording) 29. Chapter 6 – eBook assessment (eBook) xvi Acknowledgements Firstly, I offer my enduring gratitude to my graduate supervisor, Peter Gouzouasis, who has inspired me to pursue my research in arts education and assessment. Peter, I am grateful for your support along this formative journey with living assessment. Your penetrating questions taught me to question what it truly means to assess in the arts. I also extend a sincere thank you to my committee members, George Belliveau and Rita Irwin, for your consistent guidance, support, and inspiration. Your wisdom, feedback, and enquiries taught me to pursue this dissertation with creative mindset. I also thank Carl Leggo. Although I was only blessed to have you on my committee for a short while, your wisdom and words followed me on this inquiry all the way until the end. I am also grateful to The Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada and The University of British Columbia for the fellowships that have made this endeavour financially possible. I extend a sincere thank you to Kirsten Brolin, Jillian Lewis, Jennifer Delvecchio, Jean Yasuda, Deana Ungaro, and Ronni Webster for your continuous feedback and classroom support during this inquiry. A heartfelt thanks goes out to Priscilla Yap for all of our many trips to the creek, co-constructivist endeavours, and your feedback on what assessment can be for young learners. I am also grateful to all of my students for their patience and support in this inquiry. Our many discussions on assessment truly showed that I am part of a welcoming and supportive learning community. To the parent community of my school, thank you for your support in this endeavour. Your feedback on the learning stories shows that you sincerely want to be a part of your child’s educational journey. I also am thankful to my family, friends, loved ones, and social community who offered support and comfort over these last few years. These include my parents, Shawn Llewellyn, Darren Yanko, Steve Yanko, Susan Orologio, Kyla, and Casey. 1 Chapter One: A didactic film score The introductory chapter to my dissertation is written in the style of a synopsis of a film script to enable me to compose a musical score that depicts my search of theoretical underpinnings to ground and guide my inquiry of living assessment.1 The use of music in this context assumes a partnership with the other elements concerned in the telling of my story—it weaves theoretical threads alongside the discourse that unfolds in the script through the camera angles, costumes, and lighting that bring the production to life. The use of music in this chapter has the potential to promote an understanding of my motivations, give colour and depth to my moods, and aims to support reactions and attitudes by reminding the audience of some earlier dramatic development that has bearing on the present scene. With that in mind, the score does not merely duplicate what unfolds in the script, but brings to light and amplifies elements of the story that cannot be exposed through dialogue or any of the other senses. 1.1 Opening credits It is an early autumn morning, and the opening scene of a film unfolds in a dimly lit elementary school music classroom. As a camera zooms in on me sitting at a vintage teak desk, a curious musical cue gently emerges in the score.2,3,4 I am in the midst of compiling notes concerning my pedagogies and practices that have evolved throughout the years to help ground a 1 The term “living assessment” was coined by Gouzouasis and Yanko for papers presented at the World Arts Alliance Conference (November 2017) in Auckland, NZ (Gouzouasis & Yanko, 2017), and the Beyond “Mesearch” Conference (April 2017) in London, UK to discuss the assessment qualities and possibilities created by the fusion of autoethnography and learning stories with creative non-fiction, performative writing (Gouzouasis & Yanko, 2018b). 2 1M1: A prelude of curiosities. https://youtu.be/LBmBKfap9Ys 3 In reference to the first musical cue, 1M1, when scoring music for film the first number indicates the reel, M refers to the music, and the second number denotes the cue. Hence 1M1 is the opening piece in this chapter, 1M2 is the second, etc. 4 For clarity, citations and musical cues are referenced as footnotes. Following the story, citations will switch to in-text APA format. 2 theoretical framework for my dissertation. While notetaking, my voice begins to narrate in the background. “Over the course of the past decade, I have come to believe that the music classroom is a place and space that evokes the liberty to explore, learn, and make music with an artistic mindset.” The camera pans back to unveil a diversity of musical instruments throughout the room. “Scaffolding creativity of learners in this environment can lead to beautiful, undiscovered wonders through music. Artistic, ingenious musicians like J.S. Bach, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Miles Davis, and Ella Fitzgerald possessed an abundance of creativity that transformed their worlds and how we view music. Yet, do teachers enable their students to think, pursue, and engage with such creativity?” The musical score reiterates motifs of those musicians and fades with a warm interval on the horns. I take a break from notetaking and stand up to stretch. In doing an eagle arms yoga pose, I notice that my eyes are sore from the darkness. I squint to readjust. I make my way toward a row of windows. As I pull on a drawstring to let the low rising autumn sun fill the classroom, a musical cue briefly sounds to announce a main motif in the score.5 I decide to give my eyes a rest and begin arranging the room for the day. My narrating voice continues in the background. “Music educators should aspire to engage with pedagogies and practices that induce seeds of creativity to grow and blossom with magnificence. Approaches that foster music making and learning need to be altered to focus less on borrowed practices from academic subjects, as music making and learning ought to be framed through the arts—artistic practices—and 5 1M2: An autumn sunrise. https://youtu.be/raN3kPhTKwI 3 grounded in music. Assessment practices also need to move away from so called ‘methods’ that have nothing to do with the arts—‘not all data, especially in art, need or can be quantified. One does not, and cannot, measure quantitative differences between a Matisse and Larry Poons.’”6 I walk toward a xylophone left in the centre of the classroom from the previous day. As I return it to its respective home, I consider the possibilities of assessing the various learning experiences that unfold here in this (s)p(l)ace.7 The main motif reappears in cello and expands in dialogue with a metallophone.8 As the music plays, my narrating voice continues. “I think about Eisner’s quote in the context of music and ponder over how I would not measure the difference between two music compositions by two very different composers, nor would I do the same with the artistic endeavors of my students. What is needed however, is judgment that is not judgmental, but rather a refined sensibility to notice what is subtle but significant with each child and provide reasons for the appraisal of their worth.9 With that in mind, I contemplate how assessment practices can be altered to provide opportunities for feedback with a sensitivity that encourages growth and draws on the subtle yet significance in each child as they engage in musical endeavors.” I return to my desk and the camera takes an over the shoulder shot of my notepad. As the pen touches paper, an idée fixe10,11 emerges in the score as an historical cyclical motif for 6 Eisner, 1971, p. 36. 7 (S)p(l)ace is a hybrid world implying both an object and an area at once. It is a metonymic word, in that it cancels itself out—the space will always escape the place, one implies the other, one cannot exist without the other, it is the negative to the positive. A (s)p(l)ace is neither a space nor a place; it exists in-between the two. See de Cosson, 2003. 8 1M3: Would Eisner value a metallophone more than a cello? https://youtu.be/ehv6XqcxJp4 9 Eisner, 2007, p. 426. 10 1M4: An Idée fixe in assessment. https://youtu.be/04ese0yjPlA 11 Idée fixe is a recurring melody, which represented a mythical ‘beloved’ in an opium driven symphonic dream, attributed to Hector Berlioz and his Symphonie Fantastique. 4 positivistic measurement practices in the style of Alfred Binet.12 The camera slowly zooms in on the paper and the music gradually crescendos with it. This idée fixe depicts the nature of assessment ingrained in the school system, which has in turn also greatly influenced the current practice of ‘recitation’ in music education.13 I ruminate over the changes in my practice and pedagogy that have made it possible for me to be who I am as an educator today. “My thoughts drift to my master’s thesis, where I examined the pedagogies and practices of the early childhood centers of Reggio Emilia, Italy. During that inquiry, my music program altered drastically to become more open and emergent, and instead of reproducing music already written, my students began to imagine, create, and express themselves through music.” As I sit at my desk deep in thought, I unconsciously tap my pencil on the notepad. A motif builds on top of the chime of Berlioz’s idée fixe to elucidate the ingrained unavailing assessment practices in schools today. “In the midst of that inquiry, I became discouraged with my assessment practices rooted in measurement and post-positivist qualitative analyses. They were hindering the creative capacities of my students, and prevented me from giving meaningful value to their music making experiences. Therefore, I began to explore assessment practices like pedagogical documentation and learning stories that enable valuing through refined judgments and reflective criticisms. Such assessment practices have become fundamental to my practice, and Peter Gouzouasis and I have written three book chapters14 to illuminate those assessment practices in arts education.” My mind begins to wander to where I feel my research should unfold, and an Eisnerian 12 Alfred Binet is attributed with developing the first IQ test in the early 20th century that greatly influenced testing practices in schools for over 100 years (Giordano, 2005). 13 Giordano, 2005. 14 Gouzouasis & Yanko, 2018a, 2019; Yanko & Gouzouasis, 2020. 5 melody excitedly sounds.15 I take a sip of coffee, and my narrating voice resumes. “Although learning stories and pedagogical documentation can allow for the assessment of creativity, aesthetics, and expression, an underlying frustration resides in me because they are not grounded in artistic practice and pedagogy. Thus, through my dissertation I seek to create and implement a hybrid approach to assessment—living assessment—that draws on the underpinnings of pedagogical documentation and learning stories, and is grounded in the arts through (1) living inquiry (a rendering of artography), (2) an expansion of Elliot Eisner’s concepts of connoisseurship and criticism, (3) and artistic practices found in qualitative arts based research.”16 The school bell suddenly rings and startles me. I make my way to open the classroom door and welcome my first class of the day. The scene fades to dark. 1.2 The tone of the plot A new scene unfolds at my home. I am sitting at a piano trying to take my mind off of how to develop the theoretical framework for my inquiry. The camera captures an overhead shot of me flipping through a book of Preludes by Frédéric Chopin. “I think about how Chopin was inspired by Italian vocal music to evoke Tempo rubato (i.e., ‘robbed time’) to play with the melody by subtly lingering or passionately anticipating the beat, while keeping the accompaniment relatively in time. In that spirit, I ponder how the arts can bring passion, joy, and colour to the ways that educators assess young learners, and enable a sense of ‘rubato’ to open up space for reflection and discourse.” 15 1M5: A motif alla Elliot Eisner. https://youtu.be/01rO5jgs-AY 16 The relationship between living inquiry, connoisseurship and criticism, and qualitative arts based research and living assessment will be discussed in detail in Chapter 3. 6 While turning the pages in the book, a musical cue slowly emerges in the style of Aoki,17 grounded in the root and 5th but left open to be explored, exposed, and always changing according to the needs of the learners—rather than grounding the tonality in an “air-tight” key, “holes” are deliberately cut in pedagogy and practice to enable students to “breathe,” to “create spaces and find voices” (Miller, 1990). My narrating voice emerges in the background. “The philosophies and practices of the Reggio Emilia approach can foster artistic thinking and doing in the classroom, while evoking observation, recognition, and responses to such learning. To draw on those, I mull over the ideas of Ted Aoki, as he recognizes the epistemological limits in ‘traditional’ curriculum research and posits a need ‘to seek out new orientations that allow us to free ourselves of the tunnel vision effect of mono-dimensionality.’”18 I close the book, place it on the piano, and skim through a book of Chopin’s Études. I think about how Chopin transformed the étude from a dry, technical exercise into a lively, emotional story, and wonder if the same be done with assessment. As I flip through the book, I stop at Étude No 12 in C Minor. My thoughts return to developing theoretical framework. “I reflect on the ‘revolutionary’ aspect of this Étude, and how the foundation for my inquiry will need to allow for pedagogies and practices that empower children’s rights and freedoms to become protagonists of their education. I also take note of the key of the piece—C minor—and ruminate over the storminess suggested through composing in that particular key.19 I think about how my inquiry will require a key to enable the learning community to take risks and venture into the unknown, into the abyss of the storm.” 17 1M6: An openness to Aoki. https://youtu.be/DLp_VphyS2A 18 Pinar, 2005, p. 1. 19 Beethoven also wrote his famous Pathétique sonata in the key of C minor. The Chopin is also known as the “Etude on the bombardment of Warsaw” written in 1831. 7 A playful musical cue appears against the traditional murkiness of C minor.20 This cue in the score reflects the 21st century learner and teacher on the lived spaces between their curriculum and pedagogical practices.21 As the music expands, my narrating voice recommences. “I have come to understand that a foundation for learning does not emerge passively, or at random, and that cultures provide the context to which creativity occurs. In looking at the schools of Reggio Emilia, it emerges out of a shared practice of children and teachers making meaning together, through the ways in which people find ways to play, make, and negotiate differences in creating shared meanings.22 Thus, in developing theoretical underpinnings for my inquiry I draw upon those of the Reggio Emilia approach that empower artistic thinking and doing, which can support the assessment of learning through a hybrid framework grounded in the arts.” The scene comes to an end as the camera pans away from the piano to a window overlooking a courtyard below. 1.3 The protagonists A scene begins in the office of my graduate supervisor, Peter Gouzouasis. The camera captures a high angle shot of us sitting across from one another with books scattered across his desk. A playful motif emerges that illuminates an opening for students to become active agents of their own learning.23 Peter flips through “The hundred languages of children”24 and remarks. “In Reggio Emilia, educators believe children have inborn endowments and the potential 20 1M7: Lived space. https://youtu.be/3rsL9DcOolw 21 See Aoki, in Pinar, & Irwin, 2005. 22 Gauntlett & Stjerne Thomsen, 2013, p. 5. 23 1M8: Playful motif. https://youtu.be/CrI4-DLe9Zs 24 Edwards, Gandini, & Forman, 2012. 8 for extraordinary richness, strength, and creativity, whereby children are encouraged to learn in a natural, exploratory, and playful way.”25 “Peter, that mindset has transformed my perspective on the relationship between my students and self over the past eight years, evoking a reflexive practice that enables the foundation of my pedagogies to focus on developing my students’ musical curiosities, questions, interests, and abilities. In Reggio Emilia there is also a fundamental belief that children ‘have legitimate rights and opportunities to develop their intelligence’26—those children are protagonists of their educational journey.” Peter lays the book down on the desk and picks up a book by Michel Foucault. “Although I’m aware of the value placed on the process of learning, it takes great awareness and effort to be engaged with a reflexive practice that occurs in the moment, Matt. As a result of this challenge, we need to regularly reflect on the sharing of power between our students and ourselves, as it can allow for a ‘productive power relationship’27 that inspires rich, inquisitive, and dynamic learning experiences.” He turns to a particular quote to share with me. “‘The problem is not trying to dissolve them [the relations of power] in the utopia of a perfectly transparent communication, but to give one’s self the rules of law, the techniques of management, and also the ethics, the ethos and eethos, the practice of self, which would allow these games to be played with a minimum of domination.’”28 25 Malaguzzi, 1993; Rinaldi, 1993. 26 Gandini, 1998, p. 51. 27 Foucault, 1988. 28 Foucault, 1988, p. 18. 9 Peter places the book on his desk and a tremolo motif emerges on cello that depicts a struggle between two notes29—contemplating the tension that sometimes arises in a productive power relationship. “To scaffold that belief, I turn to Nel Noddings to foster a caring relationship that embodies a relational view of caring.” I skim through highlighted parts of “The Challenge to Care in Schools: An Alternative Approach to Education,”30 and ruminate over the notion of a caring relationship. “A relationship that requires open dialogue to enable the search for enlightenment, responsible choice, perspective, and a means to solve problems through mutual and appropriate signs of reciprocity.31 Reciprocity does not simply mean that there is sharing back and forth, but that there is an obligation to listen and tell in ways that will sustain the dignity of one another and avoid domination.32 In line with this concept of reciprocity and in harmony with music making, Jacques Attali suggests, ‘that it is the ear, not the eye, that offers a path into relations of power.’”33 I put the book down and a motif develops in the score that reverberates from mounting reciprocity between teacher and learner.34 The camera pans to Peter deep in thought, as he taps a complex rhythm pattern with a pencil on the pile of books concerning Reggio Emilia. “In Reggio Emilia, there’s a belief that cognitive development needs to take place within a social context, whereby social constructivism evokes dialogue between child, classmates, and teacher that allows for a negotiation of meaning …” 29 1M9: A tug-o-war between learner and teacher. https://youtu.be/aLkneWk3ISs 30 Noddings, 2005 31 Witherell & Noddings, 1991, p. 7. 32 Hutchinson, 1999, p. 109-110. 33 Sterne, 2012, p. 19. 34 1M10: An obligation to listen. https://youtu.be/xqufBiiNQmA 10 I cut him off. “In my classroom, social constructivism enables a diminishing of teacher-directed instruction and provokes opportunities to explore ways of music making and learning that would not be possible alone, or with the sole subjective opinion of myself. To foster that I turn to Lucy Green who believes that allowing students to construct music with friends is essential to the learning process because students experience a conscious and unconscious acquisition and exchange of skills and knowledge by listening, watching, imitating, and talking with members of their social groups.”35 The camera captures an over the shoulder shot of Peter returning books to the shelf behind him. As he wedges them into their respective home, he continues. “This is why I think social constructivism is misguided and limited.36 Cognitive development, and brain development, takes place from conception to birth. For the unborn child, the only ‘social’ relationship is with the umbilical cord, amniotic fluid, and walls of the womb. Their ability to hear develops as early as 16 weeks, so they begin to learn their mother’s voice. Of course, after we’re born into this world, unless we’re placed in an isolation tank or a closet, learning takes place and is actively constructed in our socio-cultural, environmental milieu. But social constructivism ignores and has no account for anything that has to do with innate abilities, cognition, and lifelong brain plasticity in the neuroscientific sense. It’s all about skill 35 Green, 2008, p. 10. 36 As a social constructivist, being a good Marxist, Vygotsky’s emphasis was on external forces—culture and society, as well as cultural and social processes—in unidirectionally shaping all aspects of child development. Moreover, in the evolution of world views (Pepper, 1942), paradigms (Overton, 1973; Overton & Reese, 1981), research programs (Overton, 1984), embodiment theories (Overton, 2004), relational metatheory (Overton & Muller, 2012) and systems theories (Lerner, 2004) Vygotsky is part of “the Marxist split tradition” (Overton, 2004). On the other hand, with some modification Piaget’s work (Mueller & Overton, 1998a, 1998b) can be explained throughout that 8 decade evolution as a part of the synthesis of psychological traditions of explaining child and lifespan development. This topic is not part of the scope of the current dissertation, however, these references explain why Vygotsky’s perspective of child development are not included in this dissertation. 11 development in the socio-cultural, environment in which we live. But we humans actively construct the world around us based on how we form and inform our socio-cultural environment. It’s not innate/nature or learned skills/nurture, it’s both, as well as brain, body, and mind and the processes through which we live in the world around us. Embodiment opposes artificial splits that are prevalent in 20th century developmental models and research methods. It’s best explained through a Relational Developmental System, RDS.37 The RDS framework recognizes the relations between the complex, intra- and inter-connections that levels of nature and nurture play a key role in development, with living, active humans at the centre of focus.” Peter pauses for a moment, then continues. “But ever since my work with that exclusive school in West Vancouver, I’ve been intrigued by the notion of how students in Reggio Emilia inspired classrooms are seen as active constructors of knowledge, where they learn through emergent curriculum involving projects and in-depth studies of particular topics.38 “Yes, Peter, as children are immersed in active ways of learning, they employ elements of research that draws from Piaget’s theory of development. Piaget believed that children ‘construct’ an understanding of the world around them through discrepancies of what is already known to what is discovered and adjust their ideas accordingly.39 I’ve noticed that as children engage in learning, they tend to embrace what looks like a research perspective—they explore, observe, question, discuss, hypothesize, represent, and then proceed to revisit their initial observations and hypotheses that enable them to further refine and clarify their understandings.40 37 Overton, 2013, 2015. 38 Katz & Chard, 1989, p. 2. 39 McLeod, 2009. In RDS, children may be considered as “… complex, spontaneously active, self-creating (autopoetic), self-organizing, and self-regulating … from the genetic to the behavioral and sociocultural levels …” (Overton & Lerner, 2012, pp. 375-376). 40 Forman, 1996. 12 This approach to discovery involves a process of learning that is best examined using a formative assessment lens that captures the richness and depth of their learning.” Peter places the last book on the shelf and the scene fades to darkness. 1.4 The deuteragonist I am in the midst of preparing a provocation of colours, feelings, and music for my students. The camera follows me as I scatter various instruments and materials throughout the music atelier, my old classroom portable, in an inviting manner. My narrating voice emerges in the background. “‘[We need] a teacher who is both sweet and stern, who is the electrician, who dispenses the paints, and who is even the audience—the audience who watches, sometimes claps, sometimes remains silent, full of emotion, who sometimes judges with skepticism, and at other times applauds with enthusiasm.’41 The role of the teacher in Reggio Emilia is dynamic and ever changing, whereby they act as deuteragonists that support the students’ learning as it emerges and unfolds over time. In this setting, the teacher develops a partnership in learning with the children, which is illustrated through an overarching educational principle of reciprocity that appears again and again as teacher and learner guide projects together.”42 As the children enter the room and begin to interact with the materials, a musical cue emerges in the score that elucidates a co-constructivist presence of the teacher. The atelier supports the children’s wonders, explorations, and meaning making with the materials in hand.43 “If educators want to foster, nurture, and support creative designer mindsets, learning cannot be restricted to finding knowledge that is out there.44 To do so, I turn to Nel Noddings, 41 Loris Malaguzzi, as quoted in Rinaldi, 2006, p. 89. 42 Rankin, 1997, p. 30. 43 1M11: A provocation of colours, feelings, and music. https://youtu.be/gPl5VOVKL-A 44 Fischer, 2013. 13 who believes the teacher represents a true sense of caring by demonstrating caring in that I do not ‘care’ to ‘model caring,’ but I model care by caring.45 The teacher mainly acts as carer and uses dialogue to identify needs, to learn what the cared-for is going through, or what the carer is aiming for, and then works cooperatively on meeting those needs.” In the midst of the music exploration, I make my way around the room and document their learning. A musical cue emerges that reiterates the previous piece in a documentative manner. 46 As the music develops, my narrating voice continues. “Reggio Emilia teachers also act as researchers by observing and listening to children and following up with data collection and analysis. In doing so, they are able to ascertain critical knowledge concerning student interest, curiosity, and learning to produce strategies that supports the children’s work.47 This practice of data collection and analysis is referred to as ‘pedagogical documentation’—a practice of assessment that enables the students to obtain deeper connections to their learning experiences by participating in and becoming an integral part of the assessment process. In turn, they are able to give value to their critical thinking, judgment, and self-worth. It is a form of assessment that involves the documentation of long- or short-term projects and activities.” As I finish documenting the last group of students, the camera pans out and fades to darkness. 1.5 Revealing the setting A new scene commences as the camera follows me walking through a trail at Lynn Canyon. As I stroll down the path, I give thought to the space where learning unfolds, not only 45 Noddings, 2010, p. 147. 46 1M12: Documenting a provocation of colours, feelings, and music. https://youtu.be/sN0hrUGG58I 47 Gandini, 1998, p. 82. 14 the classroom but also the outdoors. Many experiences with my students take place in nature. I trek across the suspension bridge and take in the scenery below. After the bridge, a musical cue develops in the score.48 I walk deeper into the forest and my narrating voice reemerges. “The Reggio classroom should be an inviting space for children to construct and explore knowledge,49 and an environment that nurtures concentration, creativity, and motivation to independently learn and explore.50 Great care has gone into altering my practice, which has in turn altered the environment in which I teach. These changes included the replacement of chairs with cedar stumps, draping sky-blue tulle under fluorescent ceiling lights, replacing solfeggio51 and recorder charts with diagrams crafted by students, and altering the classroom walls to become rich with pedagogical documentation that maps out our wonders, inquiries, and learning.”52 I stop at a calm pool in the creek and contemplate those exciting changes that the students and I have made to our former classroom space. I continue my walk. “Over the course of the past few years, the placements of instruments in this space has also been an evolving arrangement by the students to best meet their needs; this has also empowered them to take ownership of our learning environment. I reflect on how altering the classroom space impacts the ways that children partake in music making, learning, and creativity. In turn, these changes also affect the assessment practices within such a setting.” As I ponder the alterations to the learning environment, the musical score spirals in a manner that depicts changes in the setting over the course of years and through the various hands 48 1M13: Reflections on the space where learning unfolds. https://youtu.be/zGbaT8XKaFU 49 Gandini, 1998. 50 McKellar, 1957. 51 The term ‘solfeggio’ refers to a syllable system used to teach music literacy—do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do. 52 Gouzouasis & Yanko, 2018a. 15 of students. The music cuts out. I attempt to cross a rickety wooden bridge that spans above a swampy section of the trail in silence. As I journey along the path, the score and my recitation resume.53 “I reflect on the ateliers in each of the early childhood centers of Reggio Emilia. That space empowers children to become familiar with the use of artistic techniques and to develop non-verbal language through multi-modalities, including music.54 It is not meant to be a place where children learn how to develop artistic skills, but rather a workshop where children explore and interact with materials in an informal social setting.55 I have adapted my classroom space to become a music atelier. That was made possible through the implementation of various musical instruments, everyday objects, and materials from nature. These materials function in a similar manner to paint, clay, and other artistic materials that enable the children to develop individuality and creativity.” I follow the gravel trail around Rice Lake, and the sound of a loon catches my attention. I stop to watch it glide across the water. “In the ateliers of Reggio Emilia, children are encouraged to represent their plans, ideas, and understandings using one or more modes of expression.56 By using different media to represent meaning, children confront new possibilities and generate new questions that would not have occurred had they used only one way of knowing.”57 53 1M14: Ripples in my reflections. https://youtu.be/ru9ZBnVZxsw 54 Hanna, 2013, p. 3. 55 Hanna, 2013, p. 4. 56 Edwards, Gandini, & Forman, 1998, p. 3. 57 Forman, 1996, p. 172. 16 As I walk away from the lake, a new cue abruptly sounds in the score that depicts other music ways of knowing—a marble soundscape.58 My recitation resumes above the cue. “I have drawn from ideas of maker-centered learning to scaffold the philosophies and practices behind the Reggio atelier.59 The addition of maker-centered practices in this space also enables another ‘language’ for children to express what is learnt. Malaguzzi’s concept of the hundred languages illustrates the importance of not only allowing children to learn in their own way, but also learn with the freedom to express themselves in a medium of their choosing. I am reminded of a quote from Carl Leggo, who began this journey with me four years ago. Poetry is my first language, not the only language I know or use to declare, interrogate, understand, and communicate experiences, emotions, and ideas, but definitely the language that flows with blood, and teases the imagination, and resonates with the hearts of others, and guides the spirit.60 Similar to the way that poetry is a language to Leggo, children have hundreds of ways to create and express their own worlds. Thus, my students engage with various media to express their musicality, which illustrates the multitude of ways in which the arts can be used to express plans, ideas, and understandings.” The camera moves to an aerial shot as the scene closes on me walking deeper along the gravel path into the forest. 1.6 And scene! The final scene unfolds in the classroom where it all started. The camera follows me as I clean and reorganize my classroom space—the atelier—at the end of the day. My narrating voice 58 1M15: A marble soundscape. https://youtu.be/Q6838haaL2g 59 See Clapp, Ross, Ryan, & Tishman, 2017; Gauntlett & Stjerne Thomsen, 2013; Lang, 2013. 60 Leggo, 2011a, p. 12. 17 emerges in the background. “The examined Reggio and supplemental arts based literature play a fundamental role in developing the theoretical underpinnings of my investigation into living assessment. However, in adapting those, I have come to realize that there are differences between my practices and those of Reggio Emilia. Despite the differences, I have learned that it is important to focus on the creative potential through our diversity—not as a constraint to deal with, but an opportunity to generate new ideas, new insights, and new environments. I acknowledge that is challenging at times to foster and nurture a learning environment that encourages creativity and individuality within a social constructivist setting—while attempting to not reduce heterogeneity and specialization—to support, manage, and integrate it, by finding ways to build bridges between local knowledge and by exploiting conceptual collisions and breakdowns as sources for innovation.”61 I close the blinds and the lighting in the scene dims. A final motif in the score builds to resound that of a second wave, a joyful reconceptualization.62,63 As the musical score progresses, my narrating voice continues. “Thus, in adapting this approach I avoid imitating that what cannot be duplicated. I bring to light the differences between the Reggio approach and that of my own. These differences are unique and rooted in socio-cultural aspects of specific cultures of learning, particularly in music contexts. Thus, they should neither be pigeonholed, nor ignored, but acknowledged by others and given value within the environment to which they belong.” 61 Fischer, 2013. 62 Pinar. 1988. 63 1m16: A fanfare for living assessment. https://youtu.be/CWUOi1q005Q 18 I prepare to head home for the day and turn off the lights. The scene dims further, and the music score repeats and reiterates motifs that illuminate valuing, refined judgments, and reflective criticisms. The fanfare resounds into the darkness of the credits, where Malaguzzi, Foucault, Greene, Eisner, Leggo and many others scroll across the screen to set up a theoretical foundation for an inquiry into living assessment. 1.7 Research questions The conceptualization of an artographic study is itself an artful task, and on many occasions, the project is made clear only after, and not before, it has been implemented (LeBlanc & Irwin, 2019). Thus, the following questions are a starting point and I acknowledge that more questions will emerge during the writing process. (1) What is living assessment? How does this approach differ from other means of assessment? What is the need for this practice in relation to other approaches? (2) What constitutes the foundations of living assessment? What comprises the underpinnings of living assessment’s three guideposts—documentation, artistry, and augmentation? How do the three guideposts support a process of assessment? (3) What are the implications of turning to the arts to assess with an artistic mindset? (4) What are the benefits and challenges of implementing living assessment within the context of an elementary school music program? And what considerations are there for applying this approach in other arts learning contexts? 1.8 Overview of chapters In the second chapter, I examine how artography (Irwin & de Cosson 2004; Springgay, Irwin, Leggo, & Gouzouasis, 2008; Triggs & Irwin, 2019; LeBlanc & Irwin, 2019), which heavily drew from autoethnography in its inception (de Cosson, 2003), supports an investigation 19 of my lived experiences with living assessment. In doing so, I bring to light how artography, an arts based practice, enables me—an artist, researcher, and teacher—to conduct a living inquiry (Gouzouasis, 2006a) of a co-emergent investigation. Within this framework, I engage with arts based practices that provoke questions as they emerge over time, select sources of information and ideas, and offer interpretations with “intellectual openness and creativity” (Finley, 2003, p. 283). I also examine autoethnography and how it allows for and supports the discovery of different ways that I experience, conceptualize, realize, and understand living assessment. As I engage in autoethnographic practices, a connection forms between the auto (my ‘self’ but also him, her, this, that, those, them) and the ethnos (i.e., (in)formed by ethos and eethos, culture and one’s character of being within a particular culture) that allows for the placement of graphy (writing process) (Gouzouasis & Ryu, 2015; Reed-Danahay, 1997). In Chapter Three, I provide a review of current literature on assessment practices in the arts with a focus on music education. I examine and critique the foundation and processes involved in pedagogical documentation, and also examine and critique the underpinnings of learning stories and the process involved in conducting storied assessments. In addition, I reflect on living inquiry and illustrate how it can harmonize together with the ideologies of learning stories and pedagogical documentation to form a hybrid method of assessment—living assessment. To help facilitate my investigation, this section will also include an exploration and examination of three guideposts based on these fused practices—documentation, artistry, and augmentation. In the fourth chapter, I story the onset of my investigation into living assessment. It follows the course of an inquiry with a class of Grade 1 students. I examine how the guideposts of living assessment can support the ways in which we engage in our documentation wall and 20 digital documentation. I also move beyond familiar assessment practices and explore the comic as a creative medium for assessment. As the children’s inquiries develop, so too does my journey with living assessment. A journey that reflects the overarching educational principle of reciprocity that appears again and again as the children and I together guide not only the inquiry, but also the artful assessment of it. The fifth chapter takes place as the students and I prepare for a concert. It brings to light all that encompasses a musical production that cannot be assessed through traditional means of assessment. The story focuses on two intermediate level classes. I examine how the performing arts can scaffold a practice of living assessment, by exploring the potentials of song and a music script. In doing so, I bring to light the advantages and challenges of using the performing arts as a means of assessment. In Chapter Six, my journey progresses as I draw upon the guideposts of living assessment to scaffold my engagement with two forms of storied assessment—the learning story and eBook assessment—as a means to bring to life the different ways in which the children and I engage in creative, aesthetic, and exploratory learning experiences. Over the course of four months, I compose over 550 autoethnographic learning stories for 76 students in Kindergarten, Grade 1, Grade 4/5, and Grade 6, and co-compose digital eBook assessment stories with the Grade 1 students. I share and engage in discourse on select stories to elucidate my experiences with this practice of assessment. In Chapter Seven, I focus on analyzing and interpreting the feedback on the learning stories, as there is a void in research pertaining to what parents and children understand and feel about this means of assessment. Composed as a seamless autoethnography, I turn to the guidepost of augmentation to support the various ways in which we explore, decipher, and take 21 pleasure in the learning story. In the first part of this chapter, I examine the students’ feedback, interpretations, and discourse about their learning and the narratives written about it. The second half pertains to how I review feedback from 57 parents concerning the learning story as a form of assessment. In the eighth chapter, I present reflexive ruminations on living assessment and its guideposts. I reveal the implications and impact of this practice, and also provide future directions of living assessment for researchers, educators, school districts, policy makers, and myself. This chapter concludes with an overview of the principle contributions of living assessment. 22 Chapter Two: Contrapuntal ruminations on an arts based methodological framework Counterpoint in music is the combination of two or more independent melodies into a single harmonic texture in which each retains its linear character. 2.1 Qualitative methods Qualitative methods are sought out by musician researchers to represent personal explorations, especially those that complement cultural contexts and creativity (Bartleet & Ellis, 2009, p. 8; Gouzouasis, 2019). That has led a handful of musicians to apply theories and methods that are storied and interpretive—full of both specificity and ambiguity that reflects the socially constructed nature of individual and collective experience. As a musician-researcher-educator—an artographer64 (Irwin & de Cosson 2004; Springgay, Irwin, Leggo, & Gouzouasis, 2008, Gouzouasis, 2006a)—I engage with qualitative methods through which I aim to understand the complexities of my lifeworld (Gouzouasis & Wiebe, 2018). However, in seeking practices that provide me with opportunities to explore and examine the assessment of aesthetic, creative, and imaginative learning experiences, I posit that available research epistemologies in music education are neither progressive nor avant-garde, as quantitative and positivistic modes of research are ingrained in this nook of the academy (Colwell, 2004, 2006; Elliott, 1995; Gouzouasis, 2006a, 2007, 2011; Gouzouasis & Bakan, 2011; Gouzouasis et al., 2014). For that reason, I turn to arts based research to ground my investigation. 64 The forward slashes, which are common in a/r/tographic literature, have been removed in this dissertation through the influence of Gouzouasis’s (2008), views of the roles of artist, researcher and teacher as being interconnected and holistic. With that in mind, I share his belief that the researcher does not change perspective to that of a teacher, or an artist, as they are a person with all of the traits that weave together and influence one another during the course of a study (pp. 228-229). Species counterpoint is discussed in an autoethnographic fugue by Gouzouasis and Lee (2002) in relation to the misuse of the term ‘counterpoint’ by non-musicians. 23 Arts based qualitative research encompasses many approaches and traditions, including: life writing (Denzin, 2003; Irwin & de Cosson, 2004; Springgay, Irwin, Leggo, & Gouzouasis, 2008; Ellis, 2004; Richardson, 2000), poetic inquiry (Prendergast, Leggo, & Sameshima, 2009; Prendergast, Gouzouasis, Leggo, & Irwin, 2009), narrative inquiry (Leggo, 2004a; Gouzouasis, Irwin, Miles, & Gordon, 2013), research-based theatre and ethnodrama (Belliveau, 2015; Belliveau & Lea, 2016; Lea, Belliveau, Wager, & Beck, 2011; White & Belliveau, 2010, 2011; Saldaña, 2005; Gouzouasis, Henrey, & Belliveau, 2008), and music based research (Gouzouasis, 2007, 2008; Lee 2005a, 2005b, 2006a, 2006b, 2006c, 2009, 2010; Lee & Gouzouasis, 2016, 2017; Gouzouasis & Lee, 2002; Gouzouasis, 2019). Those practices reflect particular perspectives as to what is researched, how knowledge is constructed, ethical obligations, and philosophical considerations (Gouzouasis, 2006a; Sinner, 2008; Belliveau, 2015). They also incorporate artistic tools and practices that guide and centre the research, and include customary approaches to art making, creative rituals, original performances, as well as a subjective position of intuitiveness and responsiveness (Sinner, Leggo, Irwin, Gouzouasis, & Grauer, 2006, p. 1229). For practitioners of arts based approaches, the term ‘practice’ is of preference to method, as it refers to artists and educators and how their forms of inquiry inform the process of doing research. A frequently overlooked facet of arts based educational research (ABER), based on ideas of Susan Langer and Elliot Eisner, is the notion that the form of the research influences the art form as the art form influences the research form (Gouzouasis, 2008). In autoethnography, writing one’s experiences replaces the notion of writing ‘data.’ However, a method tends to involve a traditional research orientation that focuses on procedure and ‘data sampling,’ and because of that, I believe the application of notions of ‘method’ and considering experiences as ‘data’ (rather than documentation and artefacts) diminishes authentic opportunities to fully 24 engage in aesthetic and creative learning experiences and the assessment of them. To guide my inquiry of living assessment, I engage with a contrapuntal framework of autoethnography (through which emerges the evocative autoethnographic learning story) and artography. In music, the composer who intends to practice the art of counterpoint must begin with a fundamental, primary melody (artography), and to that adds related, but distinct melodies (evocative autoethnography and the creative, non-fictionally written learning story). Speaking to the art of counterpoint, Rahn and Boretz (2000) state, “It is hard to write a beautiful song. It is harder to write several individually beautiful songs that, when sung simultaneously, sound as a more beautiful polyphonic whole. The internal structures that create each of the voices separately must contribute to the emergent structure of the polyphony, which in turn must reinforce and comment on the structures of the individual voices. The way that is accomplished in detail is ... counterpoint” (p. 177). With the above principle in mind, autoethnography and artography contribute to an active and emergent framework of inquiry, in which counterpoint can be metaphorically perceived as melodic lines (forms of inquiry) that are harmonically intra- and inter-dependent (arts based), yet also independent in rhythm and contour (practice). In reflecting on the melodies that are related but distinct, I consider the rules of harmony in counterpoint and how I perceive the practices, conventions, and techniques involved in both arts based research practices as rules of harmony that enable experiences to emerge as artfully crafted melodies. 2.2 Artography: Primary methodological melody Artography is a way to invite practices of art-making, living, knowing, teaching, and learning to augment one another (Triggs & Irwin, 2019). Through artography, I immerse myself in an arts based practice that emphasizes living inquiry and a process through which I draw upon 25 my artist-researcher-teacher identity to artistically engage in research and question my understandings (Lea et al., 2011). As artography embraces the practices of artists, researchers, and teachers as a way to linger in entanglement and to pursue the practice of living one’s inquiry (Irwin, LeBlanc, Ryu, & Belliveau, 2017), living inquiry will be elaborated through autoethnography on multiple levels—my story as researcher, my story in relation to music teachers and early childhood educators, my story in relation to other researchers, creative non-fictionally written learning stories of my interactions with K-6 learners, and learning stories that emerge as living assessments. Figure 2.1: Listen to Chapter 2, track 1: An artographic cello melody.65 https://youtu.be/kqn47nPHliI Artography is presented as the fundamental musical melody that is foundational to the contrapuntal framework of my inquiry. In this framework, arts based research begins by envisioning a research practice, engaging in questions that emerge over time, selecting sources of information and ideas, and by offering interpretations with “intellectual openness and creativity”—in essence, enabling the researcher to portray new understandings textually, visually, acoustically, and performatively (both separately and simultaneously). It involves a continual process of questioning, where understandings are not predetermined and where artistic contexts, materials, and processes create transformative events and interactive spaces in which the reader can co-create in meaning-making (LeBlanc & Irwin, 2019). Framing my inquiry through artography allows me to investigate my experiences with living assessment, all the while providing freedom to explore where meanings reside—in texts, images, materials, situations, 65 Audio clips for this chapter are linked under each figure, or can be downloaded from UBC cIRcle. 26 space, and time to create circumstances that produce knowledge and understanding (Irwin & Springgay, 2008, p. xix, xxvi). Alongside that, artography can be perceived as a process of emergence that embraces becoming through a continuous state of movement that transcends the final product, the medium, the material, the ritualized steps, and the repetitive gestures (LeBlanc & Irwin, 2019; Triggs & Irwin, 2019). And it enables my personal interests, creative insight, and discipline knowledge (Sullivan, 2010) to add to, elaborate on, and disrupt my previous knowledge concerning assessment, by situating ideas in the context of my own becoming (LeBlanc, Davidson, Ryu, & Irwin, 2015). The complex methodological elements of artography—knowing/researching (theoría), doing/teaching (práxis) and making/art-making (poíesis) (Leggo, 2001; Irwin, 2004, Gouzouasis, 2006a)—enable me to weave creative non-fictionally crafted stories based on experiences66 as they emerge and develop in an active manner that parallels the course of living assessment. In line with the principles behind the ateliers of Reggio Emilia, the aim of artistry within artography is not to focus on crafting a piece of art to be displayed on a pedestal in a museum, but to commit with an artistic engagement. As such, I draw on my background as a musician and composer, as well as the tools and pedagogies involved in these artistic practices when appropriate during the inquiry, to (re)present discoveries and understandings. In that regard, I am also guided by the musical form and practice of ‘call and response,’ where one musician offers a phrase and is answered with a direct commentary, or response, to the offered phrase. As such, as my findings emerge (call), they are played out (response) in an active manner alongside the dynamic course of living assessment. 66 In Greek, empirical evidence, empiría (εμπειρία), is based on experience. 27 Artography articulates a relational role that fuses and situates the artist as a researcher and teacher (Gouzouasis, 2017) or artographer. Thus, in addition to my role as a musician and composer, this perspective enables me to make connections between my roles and the communities of practice in which they emerge (Irwin, 2008; Wenger, 2006). I am also cognizant of the value I place on each role, as there are times when I need to emphasize a particular identity. Moreover, my role in this investigation differs from the traditional researcher labels of outsider and insider, as this practice involves a reflexive lens through my subjective viewpoint. Artography comprises a complex, interwoven construction of multiple identities, voices, positions, and journeys within spaces and social contexts (Pearse, 2004). Loris Malaguzzi once said that the teacher is sometimes the director, sometimes the set designer, sometimes the curtain and the backdrop, and sometimes the prompter (Rinaldi, 2006, p. 56). Similar to the role of the teacher in Reggio Emilia, implementing a fluid identity enables me to develop interwoven melodic layers that offer meaningful perspectives, insights, observations, and collections of experiences. My identity is always shifting, transforming, re-creating, and re-organizing (Winters & Belliveau, 2009), as illuminated in the melody that leaps, moves scale-wise, and arpeggiates a Figure 2.2: In addition to the main melodies that weave together to guide my inquiry, music is also used to illuminate particular practices within this framework. In the above figure, music depicts how artography enables me to engage with my identity as an artist (dark green), teacher (brown), and researcher (light green). At the onset of this composition, the artist takes a step back to support as the teacher and researcher set up the inquiry. As the melody develops, it pauses at a fermata to give space to each identity for deeper insight and reflexivity. Following the pause, the researcher identity takes a step back to enable the other two to guide the learning that unfolds. The piece closes with a re-harmonization of the complexity involved in the three simultaneous roles that supports an emergent inquiry of living assessment. Listen to Chapter 2, track 2: The ArtistResearcherTeacher. https://youtu.be/713lFQ_FmVo 28 journey in time akin to an assessment practice that is unbound by metronomic ticks. Although multiple identities unfold during my inquiry, some receive more attention than others as a result of my subjective view as the researcher. This does not mean that this empirical data that emerges is invaluable, only that it lies in spaces that are less obvious (Gouzouasis, 2008), and that they also necessitate mindful exploration and reflection—to expand upon the possible and to create opportunities for new visions and insights (Winters & Belliveau, 2009). With that in mind, Irwin (2003) highlights the importance of insight during the art-making process, renaming it “in/sight” because “it (delves) into the inner structure of things, beings, and ideas (to) perceive and apprehend knowledge” (p. 64). Thus, as I investigate the possibilities of living assessment, I employ artistic practices that enable my students and self to ask new questions, generate understandings of what it means to dwell in the present, and be comfortable in these spaces and social contexts (Belliveau, 2015). Figure 2.3: The above tiptoeing motif depicts the organized-chaos involved in co-constructivist learning experiences, whereby some students are timid and afraid of the unknown, while others immediately immerse themselves in the messiness of meaning making. As the music develops, there is a divergence between subjectivities and the teacher (blue) helps guide and negotiate learners’ ideas without taking over the learning experience. Listen to Chapter 2, track 3: Co-constructivist learning between child and teacher. https://youtu.be/jnYzRch8sjI 29 Whether as an artist, teacher, or researcher, artographers acknowledge the work of others in the documentation of their own work (Irwin & Springgay, 2008, p. xxiv). With that in mind, my students’ experiences in this investigation are just as valuable as my own. Their thoughts, interpretations, and theories are taken into account as I gather, reflect, and compose my findings. Employing an artographic framework for my investigation fosters discourse amongst students, within students, and between students and myself. It also allows for interpretations of our musical experiences to be considered from multiple perspectives. This occurs in instances where I reflect on the children’s involvement in the assessment process, where classmates actively reflect on their own and each other’s learning experiences, becoming reflexive through the writing and rewriting of learning stories, as well as when the classroom community participates in the sharing of the various assessment pieces that they create, and becoming reflexive through the writing and rewriting of the assessment stories with the learners. As I participate in this manner of research and immerse myself in a journey of discovery, I not only engage in learning about myself, but also about the relationship between my students and self. Leggo (2004a) explains: I am the interpreter who stands between the chaos of the experience and the production of a tidy narrative that re-presents the experience. In the end, the ‘story of sorts’ becomes one of multiple possible stories…one more effort of meaning-making. (p. 106) Some readers may think the stories of my lived experiences to be tidy narratives of chaotic learning experiences. However, the context is not chaotic, but rather one that supports creativity in action. Moreover, the meaning making that emerges comes from a practice of reflexivity that occurs as I write and rewrite evocative autoethnographies and creative, non- 30 fictional learning stories. As this practice unfolds—in a formative manner, much like living assessment—I express an awareness of my role in this inquiry. I story and (re)story how the children and I zoom backward and forward, inward and outward with the artistic assessments of their creativity in action. Thus, reflexivity in my context involves considering the contributions to the construction of meanings through storying the self and the reinterpretation of one’s actions in, and through, a story in light of new thoughts, images, and meanings that evolve in, and emerge through, the processes of writing one’s self (Gouzouasis, 2020). The ways that the researcher interprets experiences, or collections of ‘artefacts’ in artography, is an important aspect of this practice that I embrace and for which I am mindful. Memory is fallible because it is impossible to recall or report on events in a way that exactly represent how those events were lived and felt; people who have experienced the same event often tell different stories about what happened (Tullis Owen, McRae, Adams, & Vitale, 2009). I enter this inquiry from the perspective of a male music teacher and composer, with my own biases and background. The way I interpret an event differs from others who may approach a Figure 2.4: In the above “theme and variations on interpretation,” I present a motif that emerges during the inquiry. This motif transforms into distinct variations to illuminate the diverse interpretations that exists within the learning community as the investigation unfolds. Listen to Chapter 2, track 4: Theme and variations on interpretation. https://youtu.be/tO6ErKX-3VY 31 similar study. Thus, contingency brings to question the reliability of my credibility— I question if I, the narrator, could have had these experiences described, and if I believe this is actually what happened (Bochner, 2002, p. 86). Although my interpretation of experiences in the atelier is just one of many, it is not merely a fictional representation of documentation and artefacts, as there is much theory and practice involved in this interpretation.67 It is the teacher’s story, through my eyes. This lens enables me to be free to dig deep without the strenuous boundaries of insider/outsider and positivistic frameworks that would examine these assessment practices in search of truths. This interpretation not only takes into account my experiences, but the collected experiences from observations, notes, and artefacts to account for an understanding of the children as well as children’s understandings. Doing so encourages me to be as truthful and honest with the experiences as possible (Leggo, 1995, p. 7). Alongside that, as an academic researcher I have a binding ethical obligation to protect and fairly represent the identities of my students. Decisions regarding what is excluded and included in the outcomes of my inquiry are not based on aesthetic richness alone, but also 67 As Gouzouasis (2008) noted, both Stephen Pepper (1942) and Thomas Kuhn (1962) believed there was no such thing as pure data, only data imbued with theory and personal beliefs. Pepper refers to such ‘data’ as ‘danda’ as well as ‘dubitanda’ (‘data’ that can be doubted for any number of reasons). Figure 2.5: The main motif of the theme and variations is poetically transformed to illuminate interpretation in the style of Carl Leggo. The openness of this piece allows for exploration and representation of discoveries. Listen to Chapter 2, track 5: Improvising on a theme and variations alla Carl Leggo. https://youtu.be/1NcMIUahCpY 32 include the priorities and ethics of academic research (White & Belliveau, 2010). I am aware of my students and their rights, and I represent them in a manner that is not only meaningful, but also mindful and ethical. I protect the privacy and safety of participants by altering identifying characteristics such as circumstance, topics discussed, and characteristics like race, gender, name, place, and appearance. That is because the essence and meaningfulness of a research story is more important than the precise recounting of detail (Bochner, 2002). 2.3 Autoethnography: A secondary methodological melody In a contrapuntal composition, after the primary melody is presented the composer then evokes additional melodies that are harmonically related, but rhythmically unique. With that in mind, I present the second motif in this contrapuntal framework, autoethnography, and layer it above the initial artographic melody to create a two-part harmony. In doing so, the artographic melody becomes the root, or base, that provides the tonality and key of this inquiry. It also implies the chords (harmony) that will unfold as this inquiry develops. The addition of autoethnography as a second melody allows me to explore, present, examine, and interpret additional textures in the counterpoint through stories in relation to other teachers and researchers, creative non-fictional learning stories of my interactions with K-6 learners, as well as learning stories that emerge as living assessments. Figure 2.6: At the onset of this chapter in Figure 2.1 (p. 25), I presented an artographic cello melody as the primary melody in this contrapuntal framework. In this section (2.3), an autoethnographic motif on violin appears as a second, complementary melody. Listen to Chapter 2, track 6: An autoethnographic violin melody. https://youtu.be/FIwlGrbH2HM 33 Story holds a potential to offer researchers wonderful insights into musical practices, artist identity, musical teaching, and the complexities and value of musical knowing across a lifetime—stories are essential to our understandings of experience, and thus, have the ability to illustrate how we make sense of our world. Laurel Richardson (1997) believes that we organize our accounts and understanding of them through the stories we create to explain and justify our experiences—“When people are asked why they do what they do, they provide narrative explanations, not logico-scientific categorical ones” (p. 30). Although few in number, there are autoethnographies centred on music education research that help guide my inquiry: Bartleet and Ellis (2009), Gouzouasis (2007, 2008, 2017, 2019), Gouzouasis, Henrey and Belliveau (2008), Gouzouasis and Lee (2002, 2007, & 2009) Gouzouasis and Yanko (2018a, 2019), Lee (2005a, 2005b, 2006a, 2006b, 2006c, 2009, & 2010), Prendergast, Gouzouasis, Leggo and Irwin (2009), and Yanko (2019), Yanko and Yap (2020). Those works contain creative fictions, autoethnographical elements, performative texts, narrative texts, and poetic renderings that challenge the form and content of research related to music learning and teaching. They also illuminate how the researchers document the experience of music making and explaining music in arts based educational research, arts based research, and arts informed research, as well as other contexts through the use of narrative inquiry, autobiography, and autoethnography. The practice of autoethnography traces its lineage largely from ethnography, narrative inquiry, and other approaches from the social sciences that were influenced by the crisis of representation and the interpretive turn in qualitative research (Denzin & Lincoln 2011; Erickson 2011; Richardson 1990,1997, 2000; Reyna 2010; Sparkes 2002; Gouzouasis et al. 2014). The interpretive turn fostered radically different ways of knowing and communicating human experience, and different ways of challenging un-reflexive assumptions of power and truth 34 (Gouzouasis & Ryu, 2015). As Leggo (1995) adroitly posits, “What I know of truth I know from the process of shaping and making meaning in words, through the process of storying and sharing stories of others. I am my words; I am my fictions” (p. 8). Different ways of knowing and communicating experiences in my classroom is a fundamental aspect of my pedagogy. It draws from the Reggio Emilia concept of ‘the hundred languages’ (Malaguzzi, 2012, pp. 2-3), and having ‘aligning epistemologies’ allows the children and I to be free to illuminate different ways of making and understanding music. Moreover, this approach draws from narrative theory of the 1980s, as a method and a practice, which in turn enables the art of storying to be considered a methodology (see Richardson, 2000). The epistemology of ‘story as method’ is that story is a way in which we tell ourselves to ourselves—we live storied lives. To story is to set a symbolic set of variables into play to create meaning. The process of “storying and restorying” is how we learn and grow in our understanding. This is fundamental to learning. As Connelly and Clandinin (1990) tell it, “Narrative for us is the study of how humans make meaning of experience by endlessly telling and retelling stories about themselves that both refigure the past and create purpose in the future” (p. 24). I present my lived experiences in a storied manner, and while doing so I am cognizant and acknowledge that memory, like history, is selective. That corresponds with the concepts of credibility and reliability found within artography. I pursue ‘essences’ and ‘meanings’ rather than portraying and representing precise ‘facts’ (Ellis, 2004, p. 116)—as to autoethnographers, a truthful account is more important than a factual account of a situation or experience (Gouzouasis & Lee 2002; Gouzouasis, 2008). In the narrative flux of life’s storytelling, we create and reshape the past by virtue of our understanding of the present. Any story we tell of “what happened” is filtered through the subjectivity of our currently lived lives. Leggo (2005a) 35 writes, “Autobiographical writing is not capturing the past…writing is about re-creating a sense of self, re-visiting the past in order to render renewed versions of experience” (p. 122). The “what happened” in my investigation is a tale told from the perspective of now, and subject to interpretation. However, as there is a play of fluidity between what I recall as the past and my interpretation of it, I recognize that I can never truly understand “what happened.” As this investigation involves my experiences, the application of autoethnography is best suited to support this study because the use of ‘self’ is arguably truer than that of an outsider when reflecting upon personal experiences (Reed-Danahay, 1997) in relation to ‘others’ and our shared cultural space (i.e., our atelier). My findings are presented in first-person narratives with creative dialog that comprise a process where I explore, reflect, interpret, and write about my journey with living assessment. These stories also incorporate the use of self-observation, which moves me well beyond being part of the situation studied to a place of self-introspection or self-ethnography (Ellis, 1991, p. 30). Although some may have concerns with the use of my voice, if omitted, my findings would be reduced to a mere summary and interpretation of the works of others (Clandinin & Connelly, 1994). Taking the question of voice and representation a step further, I argue that I am best suited to describe my own experiences more accurately than anyone else (Wall, 2006, p. 3). Telling tales as a form of ‘living pedagogy’ (Aoki, 2005, p. 426) invites us to draw our attention to the shared moments with our students. It calls upon us to be mindful of our practices, and encourages us to live in the moment and be better listeners of our students. As musicians we love to make sound, but we should equally love and attend to listening in all aspects of our interactions with learners (Gouzouasis & Ryu, 2015). As I engage with the artographic practices of reflexivity, continuity, and interpretation, I harmonize with concepts of autoethnography that 36 make it possible for me to write aesthetically infused, evocative tales about personal, interpersonal, and intrapersonal experiences of my students and self during this inquiry (Van Maanen, 1988; Ellis, Adams, & Bochner, 2011; Bochner & Ellis, 2016). Alongside that, autoethnography empowers me to embrace a position that I am neither detached nor objective in my research position, as I not only draw from self-experience, but of shared experiences with my students. To illustrate and elaborate multiple points of view and skillfully draw the reader into the story, I use various forms of voice (Gouzouasis, 2008; Leggo, 1995, 2003; Pelias, 2004). Thereby, enabling parts of the text to be written as dialogue, such as those found in creative short stories, prose, and various forms of performative texts, like ethnodrama and poetry (Gouzouasis & Ryu, 2015). I also attempt to demonstrate various levels of open-ended, interpretive storytelling that draws from characteristics of creative non-fiction and fiction writing. This allows aesthetic and evocative features of writing to blend ‘fact with fiction’68 to draw a reader deeper into the text, like a short story—thus, illustrating that autoethnographies are accessible, readily readable, research texts that appeal to a broad readership and are open to interpretation. Autoethnographic texts also entice readers to immerse themselves in the dialogue and read it as if they are the teacher or child in the story. Stories that are dialogic in nature possess truth-likeness, or verisimilitude, which induces a feeling that the described experience is lifelike, believable and possible, a feeling that what has been represented could be true (Eisner, 1998, pp. 53-58; Ellis, 2004, p. 124; Gouzouasis, 2008). To seek verisimilitude, I present my findings using elements of story, such as plot, dialogue, conflict, characters, and setting, while trying to preserve the authenticity of the learning experiences portrayed throughout this dissertation. I am aware that my inquiry may be judged in terms of whether it helps readers communicate with 68 As Gouzouasis (2008) notes, fact imbued with fiction is known as faction, a term coined by Alex Haley in writing the book “Roots.” 37 others who may be different from themselves, or how it offers a way to improve the lives of participants and readers, or even my own (Ellis, 2004, p. 124). Questions may arise as to the usefulness of my research findings, but this inquiry should be considered as more than mere simple stories of my students’ and self’s journey with assessment, but as pedagogical autoethnographies—educational stories that challenge readers’ assumptions of assessment practices and encourage reflexivity. 2.4 Learning story: A complementary melodic motif A motif appears as an inner voice between artography and autoethnography—the learning story. Margaret Carr originated the ‘learning story’ in the late 20th century as an assessment tool for early childhood educators in New Zealand (see Carr, 2001; Carr & Lee, Figure 2.7: A traditional children’s motif (Twinkle, twinkle) illustrates verisimilitude to show how autoethnography can depict a process of learning that is believable, lifelike, and authentic. When a child attempts to recreate a familiar melody, their intent when playing is not necessarily about accuracy, but trying to express the audiated melody. Similar to how the child’s playing is a fairly accurate interpretation of the original melody, when storying a music making experience, my interpretation may not be perfect, but it will be a truthful account of the experience. Listen to Chapter 2, track 7: A musical interlude on verisimilitude. https://youtu.be/XqdqLQpBFLI Figure 2.8: A complementary motif for the learning story is played on a second violin between the two melodies (artography and autoethnography) to vertically expand the contrapuntal framework. Listen to Chapter 2, track 8: A learning story violin motif. https://youtu.be/9Kh-1hd8F5E 38 2012). Inspired by Jerome Bruner’s work (1987; 1991) on narrative notions of reality, Carr developed stories that are pedagogical in nature as means of assessment. I turn to the learning story because this practice enables me as an artographer to explore, document, and interpret the artistic learning processes of my students. I reflect on how Peter Gouzouasis and I have drawn from the didactic nature of this approach to support the frameworks of inquiries in order to scaffold the layers of pedagogy that emerge (Gouzouasis & Yanko 2018a; 2019; Yanko & Gouzouasis, 2020). As a practice of assessment, this approach will be discussed in detail in Chapter Three, but in the current chapter I will focus on how this tool supports the contrapuntal framework of this inquiry. Stories that richly describe classroom experiences are ethnographic in nature. They are transcribed and written by a teacher in a creative non-fictional style that enables us to frame them as a form of autoethnography (see Gouzouasis & Ryu, 2015). Banks and Banks (2000) discovered that when we engage in autoethnography, it becomes a pedagogical process because the story becomes both “instructive and instructional: It teaches and can be used to teach” (p. 237). Although autoethnography advocates for the use of narrative tools and practices to illustrate my experiences with living assessment, I turn to the learning story to guide my process of composing pedagogical tales to illuminate: The significance of the learning community’s experience with living assessment; how the children and I engage with the guideposts of living assessment to compose and engage with the artistic assessments; our plans and goals as we assume a reflexive process; the voice of the children, parents, and I; and how we interact with one another during the inquiry. The intent in doing so, is to empower processes of listening carefully, observing and transcribing ordinary moments, and writing evocative autoethnographic 39 learning stories so that they can inspire teachers, learners, school boards, researchers, and policy makers to move from practice to praxis. In this contrapuntal framework, the learning story emerges as a complementary motif—as an inner voice—between artography and autoethnography. As the inner motif it fills out a reflexive practice that empowers me to reflect on the learning at hand (i.e., through the writing and rewriting my experience with living assessment) and on the feedback and guidance for growth by my committee members and even during the defense of this dissertation. Similar to autoethnography, the learning story evokes truth-likeness, or verisimilitude (Eisner, 1998, pp. 53-58; Bruner, 1991, p. 4), through which the children and parents can become immersed in the story and read it as if they are the teacher observing the learning experience. That strengthens a reflexive practice that is not only the writer’s responsibility, but also the reader’s, as by being drawn into a story they can imagine themselves as a character in the story and connect their own life to the one in the story (Bochner & Ellis, 2016, p. 70). As a form of assessment tool (Carr, 2011, p. 260), the learning story not only supports me as I aim to compose artful assessments, but encourages me to become a reflexive researcher who actively constructs and reconstructs interpretations (“What do I know?”), while at the same time questioning how those interpretations come about (“How do I know what I know?”) (Hertz, 1997, p. viii). The learning story also inspires me to focus on my pedagogy and practice as a teacher through a continuing mode of self-analysis that evolves through writing and re-writing one’s self in the story (Callaway, 1992, p. 33).69 With that in mind, I reflect on a study where two pre-service teachers engaged with autoethnography and artography in a teacher education class project, then applied the project in classroom settings during their practicum, then they wrote and 69 What differentiates my use of living inquiry from other applications in artography, beginning with de Cosson (2003) is creative non-fictional stories that feature the voices of all the participants. 40 re-wrote their stories with Peter Gouzouasis through a new, relational, embodied, and emotional lens (Gouzouasis, Irwin, Gordon, & Miles, 2013). Thus, becoming reflexive comes through writing and re-writing the self through story, as Gouzoausis (2020) states: We write and rewrite the stories we share, and through that writing process we realize that we’ve learned something new, we become something different, we change our ways of thinking, we improve our knowing about some thing, we become reflexive, and dare I say we become pedagogical.70 With the above in mind, I turn to the learning story to open a window into my own professional learning (Helm, Beneke, & Steinheimer, 2007). I compose learning stories from my perspective as the assessor, from the ‘self.’ In doing so, I connect learning stories to autoethnography (see Ellis, 2004; Gouzouasis & Yanko, 2019), as they contain my interpretation of creative learning experiences written as meaningful stories that my students, their classmates, and families can comprehend. From that perspective, learning stories provide children and parents an opportunity to reflect upon, discuss, and better understand their learning, skill development, theory making, and ideas about the world around them. 2.5 Codetta71 My inquiry of an assessment practice rooted in the arts necessitates an artistic framework to not only position my investigation, but to also present findings in an artful manner that is applicable to arts educators. Hence, the codetta illuminates a sounding of a contrapuntal 70 Gouzouasis draws from Carl Rogers (1961), who sums up his notions of becoming as follow: “The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination … The process seems to involve an increasing openness to experience … It involves the stretching and growing of becoming more and more of one's potentialities. It involves the courage to be. It means launching oneself fully into the stream of life” (pp. 186-187). Enílikogy is the adult (enílikos) form of child pedagogy (Gouzouasis, 2019, p. 23), thus we become enilikogical. 71 A codetta (“little coda”) is a brief conclusion, a dominant–tonic cadence at the end of the exposition that may be repeated several times for emphasis. 41 framework that supports my inquiry of living assessment. This framework requires an understanding of the possibilities and limitations of autoethnography and artography, and to succeed in exploring, reflecting, and working with my findings that emerge melodically as meaningful sounds (‘experiences’), it is important that I work within these possibilities and limitations. Furthermore, this framework embraces an engagement with artistic ways of describing and interpreting the complexity of my experiences and the lives of the children within my classroom community. This reflects how artographers engage in “living their work, representing their understandings, and performing their pedagogical positions as they integrate knowing, doing, and making through aesthetic experiences that convey meaning rather than facts” (Irwin, 2004, p. 34). The process of “storying and restorying” (Connelly & Clandinin, 1990) is how we learn and grow in our understandings. We make sense of our lives through the ways in which we tell stories (Fulford, 1999). Stories illustrate how we make sense of our world and have the ability to transcend across cultures and generations. The tales I share are told from a present perspective, and the details that emerge resonate with the lived reality of this experience. This is core to the conceptualization of autoethnographical work and perhaps all forms of storied inquiry. The ‘now’ is informed by the past. The storying of my lived experiences during this investigation includes my biases, interpretations, and insights, and the tales are written and interpreted for those who can benefit and learn from my research—educators, music practitioners, administrators, and academics interested in new forms of assessment. Sharing autoethnographies about my experiences with assessment also inspires me to question and bring insights to new, creative ways of assessing in the music classroom. 42 The underpinnings of this contrapuntal foundation not only support and guide me to thoroughly investigate the notion of living assessment while honouring the experiences shared with my students in an authentic lively manner, but also challenge me to question and engage in reflective and reflexive processes and to differentiate between those processes. The practices that scaffold this framework encourage me to consider the benefits and challenges of such assessment methods, and evokes questions as to the value—how, what, why, where, and when we value—in assessing children through a practice of assessment rooted in the arts. A codetta tends to close with a perfect cadence in the appropriate key to confirm the tonality of the piece, but the final cadence in this codetta is one that is open to lead to more questions and possibilities that will emerge in the secluding sections—as questioning and questing are key components of artography (Irwin, LeBlanc, Ryu, & Belliveau, 2018). I reflect on Haydn’s Surprise Symphony No. 94, in which the beginning of the second movement has a tiptoeing simplistic violin melody that centres on the tonic. However, when it comes to the final cadence of this theme, it is strongly accented with the entire orchestra on the dominant chord to provoke curious openings and to resist what is already known and anticipated. This simple start leads to the storminess that follows, where Haydn interplays ideas and remodels the tune by inverting it and turning it upside down. Thus, in “constantly questing, and complicating that Figure 2.9: An open cadence ends this section with anticipation and wonder, but leads to the beginning of my inquiry with living assessment. Listen to Chapter 2, track 9: An open cadence. https://youtu.be/EPn4Tgp1s5s 43 which has yet to be named” (Irwin & Springgay, 2008, p. xxxi), this contrapuntal framework ends on an open cadence to provoke me to investigate the potentials of living assessment within my classroom context, and supports me as I venture into the storminess of the unknown. 44 Chapter Three: The foundations of living assessment 3.1 A review of research in assessment The term assessment derives from the Latin word assidere, which means ‘to sit with.’72 When we sit and watch a musical production, we lean forward in our seats and reflect on all that unfolds before us. During intermission, we stand up, stretch, engage in discourse about what we experienced in the first act, and ponder what is about to unfold. Just as we take the time to reflect on and judge the meaning, value, and implications of a production, so too must the process of assessing student learning in the arts. The teacher needs to sit with the student and assess their interpretations, applications, meaning making, and artistic understandings as their learning progresses. Assidere supports an action that takes time and therefore cannot be rushed. That being said, throughout history, assessment practices have not reflected the etymological root of the word. Many educators continue to turn to positivist forms of evaluation to solely guide their daily practice of assessment.73 They tend to design and implement off the cuff evaluations that place numerical values on what is learned. The majority of teachers have never even taken a course in test design, nor can differentiate between a continuous rating scale, an additive rating scale, and a numeric rating scale (see Gordon, 2002, pp. 15-17). Methods of evaluating student learning, understanding, and meaning making—such as validity, reliability, trustworthiness, and rigour74—should not be applied to creative, exploratory, and aesthetic learning experiences. 72 If we consider that definition, “Assessment then becomes teacher and student sitting beside each other judging their teaching and learning, together” (Lewis, 2007, p. 69). 73 Although other languages solely use the term ‘evaluation’ in education settings (i.e., évaluation in French; evaluación in Spanish; valutazione in Italian), in English there is a delineation between evaluation and assessment—evaluation provides closure, judges learning, is applied against standards, graded, and is product oriented, yet assessment is ongoing, individualized, ungraded, provides feedback, and is process-oriented. 74 Those terms, and others, were developed and used specifically in regards to measurement practices. Positivist and post-positivist qualitative researchers adopted and attempted to adapt them to make their ‘research’ seem more objective and ‘valid.’ 45 Therefore, I turn to the 19th century French phrase l’art pour l’art (art for art’s sake), which was adopted by many Bohemian artists to express a philosophy that centres on the intrinsic value of art. In reflecting on that philosophy’s influence on modernism and avant-garde art in the 20th century, I argue that the assessment of art needs to be uprooted and re-grounded in, and through, the arts—l’évaluation des arts à travers les arts. However, to do so we need to return to the roots of assessment, through the term assidere, and take the necessary time to sit with learners and mindfully engage with interpretation, valuing, and judgment, as they embrace creative, imaginative, and wondrous ways of playing, learning, and being with(in) the arts. 3.2 Assessment in music education There are a wide range of qualitative and quantitative assessment practices currently employed by music educators. Those that are summative are typically applied at the end of a learning experience, and tend to be used for grading and comparing students, for rating them on a scale to determine a level of competence or development of skills on an instrument, placement within an ensemble, and for deciding whether to retain or pass learners from one grade to the next (Fyfe, 2012, p. 280). For example, secondary school music programs tend to focus their assessments during end of term juries, final performances, or recitals. That being said, when a music performance is evaluated with summative methods, these techniques may not always provide the necessary feedback to improve instruction and most important, improve learning. Guskey (2007) asserts that summative assessment results are not available to teachers until it is too late to help learners. Formative is seen as being in contrast to summative, as this means of assessment involves day-to-day monitoring and evaluation of learning. This approach typically occurs in a classroom music setting when the teacher listens to an ensemble in the moment and 46 over time, identifies areas for improvement, and adapts both formal and informal instruction based upon what works and what doesn't work for the learners (Mills, 2009, p. 33). Within the context of elementary school music education, research varies regarding the efficacy of formative assessment methods. Although there are discrepancies among the practices, researchers illustrate that written tasks are perhaps the most common form of assessment (Hepworth-Osiowy, 2004; Livingston, 2000; Nightingale-Abell, 1994; Rasor, 1988), followed by rating scales, rubrics, and checklists (Hepworth-Osiowy, 2004; McQuarrie & Sherwin, 2013). The use of self-assessment varies within this literature from minimal (Lane, 2007; Talley, 2005), to moderate amounts—33% (Patterson, 2006) and 64.8% (Hepworth-Osiowy, 2004). Even the frequency to which educators assess learning and development appears to vary, from never to a few times a month (Lane, 2007; Livingston, 2000; Patterson, 2006). Several music researchers (Barkley, 2006; Delaney, 2011; Hepworth-Osiowy, 2004; Lane, 2007; Livingston, 2000; Nightingale-Abell, 1994) have found observation to be the most common form of assessment. McQuarrie and Sherwin (2013) observed that many music educators reported assessing the performance of individual children through informal observation. Similarly, 100% of Patterson’s (2006) respondents reported assessment through observation and only 29% used a rating scale. Miranda (2004) found that music teachers of kindergarten children collected observational (i.e., aural and visual) impressions, but rarely created any types of records of musical skill development. Although not as common as informal observation, some teachers incorporate rubrics to monitor and improve student learning (Wesolowski, 2012, p. 38). Based upon dialogue with fellow educators and from my own experiences, many educators employ simple rubrics that focus on music techniques and strategies as a response to implementing school district and 47 government level mandates. Many are unable to write functional, meaningful rubrics, as they do not fully understand pedagogy and the necessary steps to help all learners understand, recognize, and identify curricular concepts—i.e., starting with rhythm patterns in triple meter from pattern activities, then applying the same patterns in a song. Furthermore, rubrics are typically additive rather than developmental in nature, in that they focus on mistakes and what is not learned rather than student progress.75 That illustrates the opposite of growth-mindset, and tells us that many educators do not understand what is meaningful to measure, as they tend to count the number of mistakes a child makes when performing a song, add those up, and decide where they fit on a spectrum from A down to F. Another major concern with rubrics is that the language in them is restrictive and the assessor is attempting to create a rubric out of what is already known. There is no room to judge or provide value to creativity, imagination, and aesthetics that the arts embrace. Thus, rubrics alone leave a void in assessment—no matter how well a rubric may be crafted it can never fully capture the complexity of all facets of musical performances and artistic works. Barkley (2006), Patterson (2006), and Lane (2007) consider portfolios as an alternative approach to formative assessment, but have found them to be among the least commonly used strategies. Within the context of elementary music education, a portfolio involves documentation of achievements, self-evaluation, process artefacts, and analyses of learning experiences (Klenowski, 2000, p. 219). The strength of using a portfolio is that it encourages students to reflect on and assess the quality of their individual work; it also allows them to see progress over time (Mills, 2009, pp. 32-33). Portfolios provide an opportunity to approach the assessment of performance on a daily basis—using techniques to recognize, diagnose, and communicate strategies for improvement in individual or ensemble performance (Wesolowski, 2012, p. 37). 75 It may be argued that additive rating scales and Likert based scales that tell us very little about how to improve learning and instruction are dominant in music education research and practice (see Gordon, 2002). 48 Although there are benefits to implementing portfolios, one may question if they provide a framework that allows for discourse and feedback from classmates, parents, and teachers as the student partakes in the music learning process. As brought to light in the aforementioned literature, the testing culture of music education heavily draws from positivistic ideologies, whereby the act of music making and learning focuses on objectively determined observable phenomena that are only meaningful if they can be seen, heard, or measured (Savin-Baden & Wimpenny, 2014, pp. 82-86). Doing so places value on objectivity, rationality, neutrality, and truth, and employs measures that render art as false forms of ‘pure data’ rather than as qualities to be explored and experienced. However, in determining whether or not a ‘method’ truly measures what it was intended to measure is of concern for the arts, as the application of validity by definition deals with truth claims, which hinder students from thinking and being creative. In addition to this, an attempt to keep music on equal grounds with other academic subjects76 has led music teachers to use assessment strategies that measure learning at a very basic cognitive level (Hanley, 1992) with a focus on linguistic thinking that relies heavily on written tests and assignments (Elliott, 1995; Gardner, 1991). The primary function of assessment should not be to “determine grades, but to provide accurate feedback to students about the growing quality of their musicianship” (Elliot, 1995, p. 264). Although I agree with David Elliot’s position, I postulate that current research and practice still views positivistic measurement practices and post-positivist qualitative analyses as superior practices, even though they are not suited to the holistic assessment of artistic thinking, doing, and making. In reflecting on two recent publications on assessment in music education written 76 In the 1960s it was deemed important to show that music aptitude was not correlated with IQ to show that musicality was its own form of cognitive ability and ‘intelligence’ (see Gordon, 1971). Oddly, Howard Gardner never drew on that research to strengthen his notion of music being a separate and distinct form in his theory of multiple intelligences (see Gardner, 1983). 49 by experts in the field (Elliott, Silverman, & McPherson, 2019; Lebler, Carey, & Harrison, 2015), I found that the chapters in those books attempted to address concerns with current assessment practices, but they themselves are stuck in a recurring cycle of assessment practices that use the same positivist rhetoric and traditional suggestions that are have been in use since the 1950s. Due to those shortcomings, they are unable to provide new insights or creative, tangible answers. The standards within music curricula across Canada are imbued with what seem to be meaningful terminologies—express, invent, explore, interpret, and create.77 Yet, one may question if the discussed assessment practices, based on truth claims and measurements, enable meaningful assessments of such creative and imaginative experiences. When engaged with experiences that embrace wonder, imagination, and creativity, teachers need to understand that artistic experiences are not confined to concrete rules, reductionist specifics, and specific measures.78 Moreover, quantitatively inspired assessment practices (e.g., rubrics and checklists) are unsuitable and insufficient for many arts learning experiences. The concept of musicianship is not something that cannot be weighed, seen, or held in the hand. It exists only as a mental construct in people’s minds. To most people, actions such as performing the music accurately, phrasing at suitable places, and changing dynamic levels carefully and sensibly are indications of it. However, no two people mean exactly the same thing when they use the word musicianship. (Hoffer, 1991, p. 370) 77 These are terms culled from curriculum documents of British Columbia (https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/curriculum/arts-education), Alberta (https://education.alberta.ca/fine-arts-1-6/programs-of-study/), Manitoba (https://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/cur/arts/index.html), Ontario (http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/arts.html), and Quebec (http://www.education.gouv.qc.ca/en/teachers/quebec-education-program/elementary/). 78 This reflects Gardner’s (1983) belief that the arts should be experienced in a number of ways, and the assessment of students’ arts learning experiences should be conducted through a variety of means. 50 The lack of tangible ways of assessing some ‘thing’ in music teaching and learning—such as musicianship in the above quote—echoed in vast concerns by researchers and practitioners who struggle with the assessment of creativity and creative learning outcomes, is directly linked to the historical underpinnings of the assessment of creativity. As such, foundations are quantitative in nature,79 constrict pedagogies that provide opportunities for students to engage in unfettered and unstructured play, take risks, show vulnerability, and have the freedom to experiment. Moreover, they hinder the teacher from engaging in a practice of assessment that can allow them to draw upon the roots of creativity and imagination of the learner. Taking those ideas into account, Eisner (2007) believes that giving value to artistic works can hardly follow standard measures. He challenges us to consider that we cannot possibly measure the difference between two paintings (or musical compositions) by two very different artists (Eisner, 1971, p. 36). Thus, what is needed is judgment that is not judgmental, but rather a refined sensibility to notice what is subtle yet significant, and the ability to provide reasons for one’s appraisal of their worth (Eisner, 2007, p. 426). Alongside the mentioned concerns with the assessment of creative learning experiences, values, like subjectivity, cannot be rationalized or measured with positivistic frameworks. In music, the subjective interpretation that the listener brings is also “valuative,” and elucidates meaning making that student, teacher, and parents can generalize to other instances. Nevertheless, current music teaching practices tend to promote rote learning that focuses on final performances, which tend to be heavily assessed solely from the teacher’s viewpoint, and lack opportunities for peer- and self-evaluation. That focus on the reproduction of skills and final products imitates what is already known, but what about the unknown and undefined? How can 79 The Creativity Research Journal is a prime resource of continued, failed attempts to quantify creativity since the early 2000s. 51 we as educators provide an assessment that encourages the possibility of wonder and thinking that leads to artistic creativity and imagination? 3.3 Assessment in the visual arts The following discourse is a concise examination of research literature concerning assessment in the visual arts. Not only does the context of learning differ from the music classroom, but the ideas developed in visual art education since the early 1970s contrast significantly with the music profession. Lowenfeld (1952) believes “the most important meaning of art education in the elementary classroom [is] the promotion of the child's growth” and that “in art education the working process is greater importance than the final product” (p. 26). Furthering that, Boughton (2004) posits, “an art curriculum should not be thought of as a body of knowledge, predefined in quantifiable chunks, taught systematically in sequential units, so that it can be measured by multiple-choice tests. Nor should it be thought of as a sequence of traditional art media-based activities that require students to produce similar objects skillfully” (p. 267). Robert Sabol (1998a, 1998b, 1999) has conducted extensive research on the most common types of assessment employed by visual art teachers, including: work samples, professional judgment, teacher-developed tests, portfolios, discussions, critiques, sketchbooks, checklists, exhibits, reports, and research papers. Alongside that, Burton (1998) conducted a large-scale survey of art teachers' assessment practices in the United States and found that the majority conduct assessment by informal means, including observing students work, looked at artwork, and conversations (p. 1). Similar to juries and finals in music, Burton found that 52% of visual arts teachers also assessed their students at the completion of each studio project or by written assignment. Although this survey is not recent, there has been little in the way of new approaches to assessment, and I speculate that these statistics have changed little. 52 In line with Burton’s findings, verbal feedback is common in the elementary school setting (Defibaugh, 2000; Wright, 1994). However, Beattie (1997) argues that this practice can lend itself to subjectivity more easily than tests, criteria-based, or multiple choice tests, and promotes the use of criteria and set standards when assessing. That being said, not all students are the same and assessment should take that into consideration, not pin hole students into rubric boxes. I believe there is value in the teacher’s judgement as a professional educator with years of experience in art-making. Moreover, many art educators work with the same children over the course of many years, and have become familiar with the potentials and capacities of each individual child. With roots in the visual arts, many researchers promote the use of the portfolio as an assessment practice (Boughton, 2002; Boughton, 2004; Boughton & Wang, 2002; Castiglione, 1996). Similar to concerns with the use of the portfolio in music, many teachers compile artefacts as time progresses, but do not meaningfully engage with it until the end of the semester. In such situations, students usually present portfolios that are similar to one another as they seek to display common criteria. These kinds of portfolios do not reflect the students’ capacity to work independently, nor do they reveal the degree to which they are willing to take risks in order to extrapolate from, and interpret ideas presented in class (Boughton, 2005). Also, teachers should encourage students to select their own entries (Castiglione, 1996), and invite them to partake in developing criteria for judging their own progress and achievements (Zimmerman, 1992). Similar to findings in music, although there are benefits to the portfolio, researchers argue that many educators do not understand how to properly engage with it to allow for reflection, discourse, and feedback from classmates, parents, and teachers (Boughton, 2005; Wolfe 1998; Ross, Radnor, Mitchell, & Bierton, 1993). 53 Lowenfeld & Brittain (1982) believe that the art room should be a space for children to be themselves and to visually express their feelings and emotions without censorship—a place where they can evaluate their own progress toward their goals without the imposition of an arbitrary grading system (p. 163). In reflecting on that notion and the above research, I turn to Costa (1989) who argues that educators must “overcome ... [the] habit of using product oriented assessment techniques to measure process oriented education” (p. 3). Certainly, content knowledge and skill development are easy to test, but the whole purpose of engagement in the arts becomes lost if the form and content are shaped by inappropriate assessment practices. From my examination of empirical research thus far, I have found that parallels exist between assessment practices in the visual arts and music. Although I am unable to delve deeper into other arts, like drama and dance, I hypothesize that similar conventional assessment practices exist across the arts. 3.4 Alternative ways of assessing learning The aforementioned practices do not address my concern for approaches that enable and allow for subtle, yet significant, observations of creativity in music learning combined with opportunities for discourse of formal neutrality and equality across all learners within the classroom community. In seeking approaches that foster a consideration of how to assess ‘qualities’ of music learning of students, I examine pedagogical documentation and learning stories. Pedagogical Documentation Documentation is a point of strength that makes timely and visible the interweaving of actions of the adults and of the children; it improves the quality of communication and interaction. It is in fact a process of reciprocal learning. 54 Documentation makes it possible for teachers to sustain the children's learning while they also learn (to teach) from the children's own learning. (Rinaldi, 1998, p. 120) Introduced by Dahlberg, Moss, and Pence (1999), pedagogical documentation is a term used to describe an approach to assessment in the early childhood centers of Reggio Emilia. The basic premise is that pedagogical documentation attempts to “make learning visible” (Fyfe, 2012, p. 274). This form of graphic organizer has been designed to assess progettazione, an emergent type of project-based learning, through a lens that captures the process, promotes discourse on learning, and guides the potential direction of the experience. Within this approach, documentation is made accessible to others—teachers, parents, caregivers, other children—to provoke interpretation and analysis of what is seen. In doing so, teachers not only enable multiple perspectives to contribute to the creation of a curriculum path that is authentic, but also enable a curriculum to become “pedagogical.” While immersed in pedagogical documentation, the teacher creates panels from photographs and texts to illustrate accounts of how children have expanded their knowledge through learning experiences. As progettazione unfold, these panels exemplify how projects Figure 3.1: A documentation panel used by first grade students to help create a song about evolution. 55 emerge and build to illustrate students’ theories and questions. Over time, these panels expand and grow to become occasions for intense daily communication and reflection between students and teacher (Rinaldi, 1998, p. 121). These panels also contain the teacher’s comments and questions to provoke further inquiry—directed by the learners—as the experience occurs. Pedagogical documentation involves listening as a way of welcoming differences, contrasting theories, and perspectives that requires the suspension of judgment and prejudice (Rinaldi, 2004, p. 3). It is a way of becoming sensitive to everything that connects us to others and being open to all aspects of difference. In many music classrooms, teachers strive to develop student listening skills in a variety of ways, from timbre recognition to tonal and rhythm pattern recognition, however, they rarely provide authentic opportunities for children to listen and be listened to with regard to their input and valuing of musical experiences (Gouzouasis & Yanko, 2019). Thus, this approach can inspire pedagogical and curricular decisions that are based on real, meaningful experiences with students. While engaged in pedagogical documentation, learners are not viewed as objects of analysis, but as engaged partners who actively participate in the documentation process. Whereas documentation may not provide all the assessment answers, “strictly speaking, documentation is not a form of assessment of individual progress, but rather a form of explaining to the constituents of the school the depth of children’s learning and the educational rationale of activities” (Forman & Fyfe, 1998, p. 241). Nonetheless, it provides opportunities for students to partake in assessment, which allows them to gain the process of empowerment by engaging in pedagogical documentation (Stacey, 2015). That engagement enables them to obtain a deeper connection to learning experiences by becoming an integral part of the assessment process, and in turn, giving value to their judgment and self-worth. 56 As an assessment approach, pedagogical documentation fosters an awareness of the value placed on learning. Teachers take part in selecting documentation materials, and in doing so they make choices and show how the experience is meaningful to the children’s learning processes. Furthermore, it also informs and shapes the teachers’ own learning (and teaching) processes. Carlina Rinaldi (2004) adds to this idea by stating: When you document, you are sharing the children’s learning and your own learning … in the word ‘evaluation,’ there is the word ‘value.’ Valuing means giving value to a particular learning context, and to certain experiences and interactions within that context. This is what we offer to the learning processes of the children and to those of our colleagues (p. 4). This approach also creates occasions for self and peer assessment, and promotes democratic discourse between child, parent, and teacher that shows that their words and actions are important, valued, appreciated, and understood. Moreover, pedagogical documentation provides parents with the possibility of knowing what their child is doing, the how and why, the meaning that the child gives to what he/she does, and the shared meanings with the other children. Learning stories Margaret Carr developed the practice of learning stories for early childhood educators during the late 1980s and early 1990s in New Zealand. This approach to assessment involves the teacher drawing on observation, artefacts, and dialogue to create narratives of their students’ thinking (Helm, Beneke, & Steinheimer, 2007). Learning stories focus on an interpretivist paradigm, where observation and interpretation are situated. Unlike traditional assessment techniques that are based on criteria of truthness, and objective forms of verification, learning stories employ a storied approach that presents truth-likeness, or verisimilitude. Thus, they differ 57 greatly from positivistic measures, as they seek to illustrate the significance of a learning experience, the need to communicate an understanding of the world, and how the learner understands others and themselves. Rooted in narrative methodology (Goodman, 1975; Bruner, 2001), learning stories constitute a way of knowing and a vehicle for meaning making to record and analyze emerging stories about children’s learning (Carr, 2001). Insofar as we account for our own actions and for the human events that occur around us principally in terms of narrative, story, drama, it is conceivable that our sensitivity to narrative provides the major link between our own sense of self and our sense of others in the social world around us. The common coin may be provided by the forms of narrative that the culture offers us. Again, life could be said to imitate art. (Bruner, 1986, p. 69) Learning stories have a theoretical base construed from a sociocultural contextual view of students and their learning, which enables a belief that learning occurs on a social level and that children should be protagonists of their own learning (Rogoff, 2003; Vygotsky, 1978). When a classroom community engages in social endeavours, the traditional separation of the individual from the environment with its focus on rote-learning skills and knowledge accumulation becomes replaced by attaching social and cultural purpose to skills and knowledge, thereby blurring the division between the individual and the learning environment (Carr, 2001, pp. 4-5). In this blurry space, assessment consists of a reciprocal relationship between the educational environment and the learning individual. Gee (2008) expands on this view in the following manner: A situated/sociocultural viewpoint looks at knowledge and learning not primarily in terms of representation in the head … rather, it looks at knowledge 58 and learning in terms of a relationship between an individual with both a mind and a body and an environment, in which the individual thinks, feels, and interacts. (p. 81) Composing a learning story involves the implementation of a research lens that examines students’ learning more closely. This is comparable to taking pictures with a DSLR camera, in which these pictorial stories allow moments of learning to be frozen in time or brought into focus—the more precise and sharper the documentation is, the clearer the students’ thinking may be made visible (Wien, Guyevskey, & Berdouss, 2011). In contrast to other assessment practices available to music educators, I find that this method enables a reflexive lens that empowers the teacher to reflect on the learning at hand (i.e., through the writing and rewriting of the learning story) and to provide feedback and guidance for growth. After completion, learning stories are organized as formative works in progress and are shared with the student. To provide an opportunity to connect with parents, the teacher shares a copy of the story with the child’s family, along with a note asking for feedback. This practice of assessment promotes communication between parent, student, and teacher, and parents seem much more convinced of their child’s learning achievements when presented in a learning story (Smith, 2003). Stories, whether personal or fictional, provide meaning and belonging in our lives. They attach us to others and to our own histories by offering a tapestry rich with threads of time, place, and character, and even advice on what we might do with our lives. Furthermore, learning stories illuminate an offering of value through the teacher’s evaluation. This offering provides a reflexive opportunity for child, teacher, and parent to discuss and better understand the skill development, theory making, and ideas about music making and learning. All of these aspects aid in developing a multi-layered assessment of artistic thinking and doing. 59 3.5 Living assessment Although it is possible for teachers to assess artistic thinking and doing through learning stories and pedagogical documentation, the valuing of artistic works necessitates more than a teacher with a research mindset, and more than fruitful discourse that occurs from interactions with documentation panels and learning stories—it needs to be grounded in the arts and artistic practice. Therefore, I have developed a hybrid assessment practice, rooted in the arts, that empowers the use of artistic media as a language to illustrate meanings, questions, and interpretations. However, to create and ground this new practice of assessment in the arts, I turn toward living inquiry. Living inquiry refers to ongoing living practices of being an artist, researcher, and teacher, and involves a life commitment to the arts and education through acts of inquiry. It welcomes entanglement, and involves a continuous state of movement that is not about an arrival, but is about lingering in the emergent, unforeseen, and unexpected events that it provokes (Irwin, LeBlanc, Ryu, & Belliveau, 2018). As a research practice, it enables a way of describing and interpreting the complexities involved in learning experiences between the teacher and students through a cyclic process that spirals in, out, and around theory, data, and art to create “multiple circulations traversing many directions simultaneously creating meaning” (Irwin, 2008, p. 71). Living inquiry can offer theoretical, practical, and artful ways of creating assessment pieces through recursive, reflective, responsive yet resistant forms of engagement (Irwin & Springgay, 2008, p. xxix). Leggo describes this practice as a dynamic state of “learning to live poetically,” where “I am trained in the traditions of human science research, and as a poet I am always seeking to understand the ways that poetry opens up possibilities for knowing and being and becoming” (2005b, p. 454). 60 Living inquiry supports a researcher to elaborate experiences of the self as artist/researcher/teacher through writing (storytelling, poetry, drama, theatre), music, visual arts and dance. Coincidentally, there is great emphasis on the role of the teacher as a researcher and educator in practices of pedagogical documentation and learning stories. However, the introduction of the notion of teacher as artist enables the three to harmonize. An artographic lens enables the teacher to not only integrate arts based research and artistic practices, but to also orchestrate a layering and weaving of these collective practices and pedagogies in an artful manner. Living inquiry facilitates artistic thinking and doing that compliments learning stories and pedagogical documentation by means of artistic pedagogies and practices that augment, explore, depict, and recapitulate learning and teaching processes. One may question as to why I seek guidance from living inquiry and not other arts based practices that have been explored, such as portraiture (see Davis, 2002; Lawrence-Lightfoot & Davis, 1997), or the plethora of literature on assessing arts based research (ABR) (see Norris, 2011; Lea & Belliveau, 2015; Richardson, 2016; Barone & Eisner, 2012; Leavy, 2015; Gouzouasis, 2008; Cole & Knowles, 2008). These mentioned approaches and criteria are of great value and influence to my practice of assessment, but they are typically summative in nature and hinder opportunities for meaningful, ongoing discourse between all members of the learning community (including the students and teachers). Furthermore, assessment practices like portraiture do inspire engagement with artistic media that illustrates assessment, but the theory and practice behind such approaches do not foster the same qualities that I value in learning stories and pedagogical documentation, such as: a formative cyclical framework that fosters engagement and reflection; the rich discourse that unfolds alongside the learning experience; and the plethora of ideas that are supported to inspire the direction that the learning unfolds. There is 61 merit in those practices on their own, but when orchestrated with living inquiry an approach can develop that is grounded in the arts, which in turn encourages artistic practice and pedagogy during the assessment process. Similarly, I believe this is why positivistic assessment practices work well with the sciences, as they are rooted in ideologies that can be examined, interpreted, and explained in a language that correlates well with the subject being studied. Therefore, assessment in the arts should draw from the arts to enable a practice that better harmonizes with language, media, and context. The creation of a framework that draws from living inquiry not only empowers a practice that better aligns with the assessed content, but also enables the language and media to evoke a practice of connoisseurship and criticism (Eisner, 1991) that provides a stronger, artistic depiction of where growth is needed.80 Within this context, the influence of connoisseurship refers to the specialist teacher’s years of experience, education, and training that is brought to the assessment piece. A critic judges and does not measure or seek verification. The critic is concerned with something individual, not comparative, as the subject matter is qualitative, not quantitative (Barone & Eisner, 2012). This practice supports a multipurpose lens that draws on the rich background of educator, which enables them to engage with their specialist background—and not a 80 The concepts of connoisseurship and criticism grew out of Eisner’s dissatisfaction with contemporary thinking on education as ‘scientific management’, characterised by attempts to formulate laws for learning to promote a more efficient school (Eisner, 1971). Eisner (1976/2005) argues that in striving to standardise education, tests became instruments not only for controlling learning outcomes but also, increasingly, for defining the educational practice as a whole. Connoisseurship and criticism were not meant to be a standards-based approach to assessment, but rather a means of using criteria to judge the qualities within a work of art (Barone & Eisner, 2012). Dewey (1934/1958) made the distinction between criteria and standards clear: “Standards define things with respect to quantity ... The standard, being an external and public thing, is applied physically. The yardstick is physically laid down upon the things measured to determine their length ... When, therefore, the word standard is used with respect to judgment of works of art, nothing but confusion results ... The critic is really judging, not measuring physical fact. He is concerned with something individual, not comparative … If there are no standards for works of art and hence none for criticism ... there are nevertheless criteria in judgment, so that criticism does not fall in the field of mere impressionism ... But such criteria are not rules or prescriptions. They are the result of an endeavor to find out what a work of art is as an experience: the kind of experience which constitutes it” (pp. 307-309). 62 predetermined criteria box—to provide reasoning and refined judgment of the students’ creative meaning makings and understandings. An assessment practice that draws on that idea can provoke music to become a language to express bewilderment, understanding, and ideas for growth. Similarly, in the drama studio, a framework inspired by acting could better illustrate interpretations and depictions of students’ experiences with acting. Thus, as the art specialist engages with a lens of connoisseurship and criticism that embraces artistic pedagogies and practices, they allow for a language (image, text, sound, drama, etc.) to better illustrate and connect the assessment piece to the student, teacher, and learning experience, and illuminate value placed on creativity, discourse, and interpretation. Teachers in the arts who are musicians, artists, choreographers, and performers cultivate creativity, interpretation, and imagination in their programs, but struggle with the assessment of these facets of their programs. As postulated, a hybrid approach can enable the assessment of these, but it needs to begin at the onset of a learning experience, not during a performance or when a work of art is almost complete. The start of an endeavor is where students demonstrate their already accumulated knowledge that sets a baseline for growth, and as the learning experience progresses, the assessment develops alongside it in a manner similar to a film score. Hence, the assessment piece can be interpreted as an overture that softly echoes the ‘motivic artefacts’ that document the learner’s understandings. Over time as the artful assessment develops and expands, it is prone to layers upon layers of interpretation, reflection, and discourse. This layering peels back understandings to enable new ideas to emerge through a reflexive, reciprocal process, which augments the student’s learning with other interpretations and ideas. This practice illustrates a way of artfully being with assessment in an emergent process that documents learning through an artist-researcher-teacher mindset, and can be seen as 63 living, emergent, and growing—thus, as living assessment. Living assessment Rooted in the arts, Living Assessment is a formative method of assessment that enables the use of artistic media to illustrate meanings, questions, and interpretations. It evokes l’art pour l’art, which empowers the assessor to artfully document through an artist-researcher-teacher mindset. This practice is not a method that looks at the sum of tests, exercises, and observations, but an emergent living way of scaffolding the learning experience. As a verb, it alludes to being in the process of an artful assessment that draws from the living aspect of living inquiry. It cogitates knowledge as a state of being and becoming with one’s self and community (Irwin & de Cosson, 2004). With this lens, the teacher and students are invited to experience together re/creating, re/searching, and re/learning “ways of understanding, appreciating, and representing the world ... in an elegance of flow between intellect, feeling, and practice” (2004, p. 29). The livingness with this practice embodies many meanings—i.e., the artful assessment provokes students to continue to deepen and further their learning; it sparks lively discourse and interpretation between the teacher and children on the experience being portrayed in the assessment; and it supports the possibility of weaving multiple voices of the learning community into an assessment to enliven it, making it more realistic. This practice engenders the term assidere to encourage teachers to sit with their students and mindfully engage with interpretation, valuing, and judgment as they embrace creative, imaginative, and wondrous ways of playing, learning, and being with(in) the arts. Living assessment draws from the underpinnings of pedagogical documentation, learning stories, and living inquiry to evoke an organic way of being in assessment, such as, but not limited to: the enabling of artistic pedagogy and practice, tools, and media to empower artistic 64 ways of engaging with assessment; practices that foster observation, documentation, and reciprocal dialogue between student(s) and teacher; and the enabling of practices that encourage Eisner’s concept of connoisseurship and criticism to aid in constructive feedback for growth. Living assessment enables teachers and researchers to engage with creative ways of being, interpreting, and understanding, which illuminates a practice immersed in imagination. Denis Donoghue posits that the arts are on the margin, “and the margin is the place for those feelings and intuitions which daily life doesn’t have a place for and mostly seems to suppress … with the arts, people can make a space for themselves and fill it with intimations of freedom and presence” (1983, p. 29). In my classroom, imagination can be understood as a creative and collaborative act that is shaped by the experiences of students, teacher, and classroom environment. To arouse imagination, the children and I engage with the sounds of our environment. For example, when engaged in assessing a child playing the recorder, we make a connection to musical notes that are in the space around the performer. As we connect to those sounds through listening and audiation (i.e., mentally processing and organizing what we hear), we attempt to make meaning of what we perceive. Those sounds are shared and experienced in a collaborative effort by all who engaged in listening to that experience, and our conception of such experiences can be seen as the ongoing work of creativity and imagination. As a crucial part of the discursive element in assessment, imagination can be seen as a collective element that lives on the outside of us and connects us to ourselves, to one another, and to the artistic world in which we live. This is akin to the view of Gouzouasis and Ryu (2015) where the joining of the self (i.e., the ‘auto,’ from the Greek, αυτό)—him, her, them, that, those, and they—converge in a shared listening experience. I believe that the combined philosophies and practices involved in living assessment can support the teacher to guide, research, and 65 facilitate the assessment of learning that involves imagination, and also empower them to foster and develop the senses that connect and make meaning with, and of, the learning experience. The role of imagination is to awaken, to disclose the ordinarily unseen, unheard, and unexpected. It illustrates how teacher and student perceive and understand that imaginative efforts cannot always be expressed through words or text. Richard Hickman (2005) postulates, “Imagination involves thought, thought which is not simply fantasy or the conjuring up of mental images of things not experienced, but the actual construction of new realities. The arts can be seen as an effective conduit through which imagination can flow. There appears to be a link between one’s capacity for empathy and the ability to think creatively; empathy is made possible by imagination” (p. 105). Furthering that, Ellsworth (2005) argues, “some knowings cannot be conveyed through language” (p. 156) and as such invite us to “acknowledge the existence of forms of knowing that escape the efforts of language to reference a ‘consensual,’ ‘literal,’ ‘real’ world” (p. 156). From those perspectives, I believe the practices and philosophies of these amalgamated approaches can scaffold a means of assessment that guides and supports communication, reflection, and action. Children possess multiple modes of communication and expression, and are able to disclose their questions and understandings through enactive, iconic, and symbolic representations such as drawings, clay work, collage, drama, play, building, music, and movement (Bruner, 1966; Malaguzzi, 2012). In addition to this, certain arts such as music, can be fused with other art forms like dance, theatre, and poetry, and the teacher ought to able to engage with the pedagogies and practices of all art forms that relate to the learning experience. They should have opportunities to use various arts based methods and practices that are organic and changeable to best correlate with the learning at hand. 66 In seeking to develop a contemporary assessment practice, I contemplate developing a list of criteria akin to the aforementioned arts based research literature. Criteria are reminders of what can be paid attention to while assessing, and Barone and Eisner (2012) believe that criteria facilitate perusal and judgment in regards to the significance or value of what has been created. However, some perceive criteria as restricting entry points into assessment and that it removes human interpretation (Bochner, 2000). To revive and return human interpretation in the art of assessment, I reflect on how Lea and Belliveau (2015) suggest the use of guideposts instead of criteria. I draw on the mentioned practices, pedagogies, and philosophical underpinnings, and harmonize those to create three assessment guideposts: (1) documentation, (2) artistry, and (3) augmentation. The intent of these guideposts is to scaffold a non-prescriptive framework for the assessor to encourage a formative way of being in the process of assessment. As each artistic endeavor is distinct in its own way and necessitates unique conditions for judgment, the guideposts should not be seen as a fixed framework. They are designed with my biases, interpretations, and the needs of my students in mind, and should be taken as a starting point for educators to adapt these to the needs of their learning communities. With that in mind, students’ meaning making and creativity cannot be confined to equally divisive quantitative boxes, as they highlight certain attributes over others in their work. Therefore, it is inevitable that some guideposts will be clearly visible during the process of assessment, some will receive minimal attention, and at times there will be polyphony and harmonization between all three. Guidepost 1 – Documentation The first guidepost, documentation, draws on the theoretical underpinnings of pedagogical documentation. This guidepost supports a research lens that examines the learning 67 of children more closely by drawing on observations, discovery, artefacts, and dialogue. All the while, it allows for the assessor to artfully engage with a documentation practice that illuminates a creative, imaginative, and interpretive language of meaning making. It embraces the essence of the term assidere that encourages the teacher to sit with the student as the documentation unfolds and develops in a formative manner, whereby the teacher takes responsibility for making judgments, and interprets and make meaning of what is seen, and relating it to values that are deemed as important (Rinaldi, 2006, p. 13). This guidepost supports a cyclic process that spirals in, out, and around theory, data, and art, and a way of describing and interpreting the complexities involved in learning experiences between teacher and child. Engaging with documentation not only enables a practice of assessment that illustrates the sharing of the student’s learning, but can also open a window into the teacher’s learning through an artful way of being and how they creatively capture the learning experience with artistic pedagogies and practices. Above all, this guidepost empowers the teacher to make visible the student’s learning processes and ways of constructing knowledge. Guidepost 2 – Artistry In turning to the arts, educators can engage with assessment differently to see what is different and novel. The guidepost of artistry evokes l’art pour l’art and enables artistic practices to not only illuminate the learning that occurs through artistic media, but also supports assessment through the processes involved in the artistic media being employed. This guidepost encourages educators to reflect on artistic practices that are textual (i.e., stories, novels, plays and poetry), visual (i.e., painting, photography, sculptures and drawing), acoustic (i.e., soundscapes and other forms of music compositions), and performative (i.e., drama, music, dance and culturally based performances of rituals) to design, process, analyze, interpret, and communicate 68 their assessments. This resonates with Bagley who reconceptualized his approach to research— from one of data collection to one of (re)presentations, interpretations, and conclusions (Bagley & Cancienne, 2001; Bagley, 2008). It is a distinctive moving away from positivist and post-positivist notions of hard data (Gouzouasis, 2008). From that perspective, I reconceptualize what assessment can be—for the arts and through the arts. Doing so supports educators to artistically (re)tell and creatively story a learning experience to illuminate the wonder and aesthetics of explorations in learning, and centrally feature all that artistic ways of thinking, doing, and making have to offer children. This guidepost invites teachers to draw on the hybrid nature of artography as it encompasses many approaches that can be engaged in living assessment, including forms of inquiry such as life writing, poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, drama, dance, visual art, and music. Artistry encourages teachers to turn to inquiry practices that bring light to particular perspectives as to what, why, when, where, and how learning is assessed and what, why, when, where, and how knowledge is constructed.81 Dewey (1934/1989) calls art the “most universal and freest form of communication” (p. 275), but how can art be conceived of as communicative? As the teacher seeks to convey the learning that unfolds in an artistic endeavour, but cannot directly convey or describe the desired experience through language, they can engage with artistic practices and tools to evoke the experience. The incorporation of artistic tools and practices can guide and centre living 81 Living assessment, in the present dissertation and published papers (Gouzouasis & Yanko, 2018b; Yanko & Gouzouasis, 2020), is rooted in autoethnographic learning stories (as a form of pedagogical documentation) and by default, it is a reflexive process that emerges through when writing and rewriting the shared experiences of learners and teachers in creative non-fiction stories and other examples of storying found throughout the dissertation. That does not mean that living assessment is limited to the autoethnographic learning story. This approach reflects the Aristotelian idea of poíesis as the action, or process, of artful production and making (Gouzouasis, 2006 pp. 24-28), whereby poíesis for Aristotle included the not only the creation of poetry, but also other forms of art. Thus, living assessment supports the assessor to engage with the arts by reflexively artmaking (paint, composing, acting, dancing, etc.) over and over again to (re)story exploration, creativity, aesthetics, understanding, and meaning making that unfold during learning experiences with the arts. 69 assessment through customary approaches to art-making, creative rituals, and original performances (Sinner, Leggo, Irwin, Gouzouasis, & Grauer, 2006, p. 1229). Moreover, the teacher can draw from the ways in which arts based research follows the course of an artistic experience—engaging in questions that emerge over time. Through that lens, the teacher can be artistically selective with sources of information and ideas, and portray new understandings—either textually, visually, or acoustically, and performatively (all at the same time). Artistry also supports Eisner’s concepts of connoisseurship and criticism (1991). Connoisseurship is the art of appreciation that develops one’s ability to become artistically selective, to make fine-grained discriminations among complex and subtle qualities. It involves the teacher drawing on their knowledge as a connoisseur of the art being assessed, using expertise to make value judgments about the qualities of objects, situations, or processes. The use of artistic media in that manner of assessment can prompt knowledge to be secured through senses, or ‘epistemic seeing,’ that enables the teacher to help others learn to see what they might otherwise not notice, and in the process increase their level of ‘connoisseurship seeing’ (p. 68).82 Criticism complements connoisseurship, as it transforms the qualities of a subject into a public form (Eisner, 1991). A critic’s mark of expertise is not only having available a variety of criteria that suit a variety of performances or works, but also knowing how to artfully bring that criticism to light. To do so, I turn to Monroe Beardsley’s (1958) three types of critical statements: Descriptive, interpretative, and evaluative. Critical descriptions are typical noticing—i.e., your composition has a fast tempo with lots of staccato notes. Statements that are interpretative purport the meaning of the work of art—i.e., to me your music sounds very jagged 82 In the context of music education, the guidepost of artistry not only allows for listening to be made visible but also encourages a form of “epistemic listening” by enabling the teacher to help students learn to hear what they might otherwise not notice (Gouzouasis & Yanko, 2019). 70 and rough like someone is being chased. Critical statements that are evaluative tell whether a work of art is good or bad, or how good or bad it is—i.e., a teacher comments and discusses with a student how their composition evokes a forest through its timbres. In order to make the subject vivid through the artful use of critical disclosure, being a critic requires the teacher to look beyond what is already in existence with assessments and turn to the arts to provide guidance as a means to make learning visible and audible. Educators need artful tools and forms to shed light on their valuing and judgments of student creativity, and meaning making through the arts. Therefore, critics need to turn away from not only quantifiable techniques, but also the post-positivist forms of assessment associated with measurement concepts—rubrics, checklists, rating scales, and written reports—and turn to the arts to ground their assessments in artful practices and frameworks. Guidepost 3 – Augmentation Assessment should evolve with contextual changes from year to year, yet many music educators still teach to summative criteria—rendering various facets of music making as ‘data’ to be categorized and measured rather than as qualities to be explored. However, assessment should be a flexible, interactive process between learners and teacher that shows what, when, where, why, and how well students are learning. In that way the teacher can use it as an ongoing, formative process to diagnose and modify teaching strategies. That idea harmonizes with Eisner’s (1971) notion, “The major function of evaluation in art education is the improvement of curriculum and instruction. What I believe we should be doing when we evaluate students is looking back to ourselves to see how, from the information we secure about where students are, we can make the programs we provide more effective” (p. 39). 71 Thus, a guidepost of augmentation offers the possibility to put that what was reflected on into practice through a new lens, enabling the teacher to be committed to becoming pedagogical (Gouzouasis, Irwin, Miles, & Gordon, 2013) and transforming everyday practice through praxis. It enables teachers to focus on supporting and deepening the learning of students. It consists of folding back layers and digging into the unknown to support teachers and learners as they ask new questions, and generate understandings of what it means to dwell in the present and be comfortable in the in-between (Belliveau, 2015). Augmentation provides opportunities for development in the spaces that lie amid documentation artefacts: texts, images, materials, sounds, and video-audio recordings. This occurs when the teacher and students observe, connect, discuss, and interpret the accumulated documentation to provide feedback for the learner that is “neither this nor that” [solely a subjective interpretation of the artefacts] “but this and that” [a collective interpretation of the possibilities accumulated from reflecting on the documentation] (Pinar, 2004, p. 9). Thus, this guidepost assists the assessor and assessee to draw connections to the documentation to create openings for new visions and insights. To offer opportunities for layered and diverse subjectivities that arise in the arts, augmentation embraces the concepts of reflexivity and reciprocity. Rinaldi (2006) believes, “It is not enough just to observe, though the observation may be refined and aware. As we know that to observe means to interpret, we need to leave traces of our observation—interpretable traces” (p. 43). With that in mind, augmentation supports reciprocity that invites interpretation, and promotes multiple and diverse variations—each story, each version of a story, each interpretation, each interrogation comprises steps on the living journey that shapes a life (Leggo, 2004a, p. 109). Reciprocity in the context of living assessment, does not simply encompass a sharing back and forth, but an obligation to listen and tell in ways that will sustain the dignity of 72 one another and avoid domination (Hutchinson, 1999, pp. 109-110). It encourages the teacher to engage with the artographic renderings of metaphor and metonymy to represent ways of understanding the world and making relationships accessible to the senses (Springgay, Irwin, Leggo & Gouzouasis, 2008). When an assessor is adept at using those tropes in their assessment, there is a potential for evoking past embodied encounters and memories that conjure up deeper signification and meanings that resonate with the student and open them to something other than. Augmentation also evokes reciprocity to support student’s memory, to offer them an opportunity to retrace their own processes, to find confirmation or negation, and to self-correct. To do so, the assessor thinks outside the box of truth-ness, and seeks a truth-likeness that enables a way of knowing and a means of meaning making to document and analyze artful assessments about students’ artistic thinking and doing. It also draws on the concept of identity, in which it is continually constituted and negotiated through lived encounters with others, so with each perspective the student gains more understandings and insights into their own identity (Springgay & Irwin, 2007). Through reciprocity, value is placed on interpretation and perspective that can enable the learning community to reflect on differences, contrasting theories, and perspectives that require the suspension of judgment and prejudice. Kimon Nicolaides (1941) tells us, “A thing is factually the same from whatever point of view you see it, but seeing it from different points of view will illuminate the meaning of the forms and lines you have been looking at” (p. 130). The insights of students and parents can also guide the learning experience as their views can bring insights to other ways of knowing. In addition to reciprocity, augmentation comprises a reflexivity that involves a cogitative engagement with the learning community. This enables a way of listening that focuses on an acute awareness of how children express ideas and questions, supports a sensitivity to everything 73 that connects us to others, and enables us to be open to all aspects of difference (Rinaldi, 2004). Alongside that, in the arts, the acts of carefully and actively perceiving qualities of movement, textures of sound, nuances of colour are what releases imagination, and makes syntheses and transformations possible (Green, 1995). Imagination has the ability to disclose possibilities—personal and social, as well as aesthetic. Although imagination enables us to look and think about things as if they were otherwise, reflexivity encourages teachers to reflect on the second guidepost and their ethical obligation to stay true to the essence of what was said or captured, and to represent dramatically the learning experience in an honest manner (Beare & Belliveau, 2008, p. 146). Through a practice of reflexivity, augmentation adapts the artographic practice of ‘openings,’ to allow for the possibility of new conversations and relationships to emerge (Springgay, Irwin, Leggo, & Gouzouasis, 2008)—openings, like the resolution of a deceptive cadence in music, resist predictability and acknowledge the invitation to unexpected spaces that can be explored, allowing for new meanings and ways of coming to know. Furthering that notion, pedagogical documentation and learning stories augment a sharing that supports divergence. When the teacher shares an artistic assessment piece with their students to reflect upon and discuss, it enables the learners to engage with a reflexive lens that illustrates what they have to offer and receive while participating in the experience. This sharing also gives parents an opportunity to see how their child’s learning unfolds, and provides them the possibility of knowing not only what their child is doing, but also how, what, when and why they were doing it. 74 3.6 Ruminations Assessment in the arts is difficult because it is challenging to reduce most aspects of artistic thinking, doing, and making to quantifiable lists of features. Although that is arguably the case, music educators over the years have subjected students’ artistic learning experiences to assessment practices that render music making as data to be labeled and ranked83 rather than as qualities to be explored. Those practices have instilled measures such as rubric boxes, written tests, and multiple-choice questions, which illustrate value placed on objectivity, rationality, neutrality, and truths that do not seem to fit with what is being assessed. David Elliott (1995) and Howard Gardner (1991) both imply that there is frustration with this manner of assessment due to the reality that most conventional methods of assessment rely largely on linguistic thinking instead of artistic thinking. They insist that assessment in music must be grounded in the actual act of making music. As a result of these common assessment practices, only a few studies have been conducted on the qualitative assessment and evaluation of student achievement in music performance (i.e., Gouzouasis & Yanko, 2019; Yanko & Gouzouasis, 2020). Therefore, as a result of a lack of research on formative assessment practices in music education and the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (2005, p. 2) claim that there is an urgent need for research into “evaluation and assessment in the arts,” I propose a new, contemporary and meaningful practice of assessment grounded in the act of artistic thinking, doing, and making—living assessment. The beauty of approaching assessment of creative learning experiences in the arts in this way is that by its very nature, living assessment requires the teacher to be a creator and innovator 83 Nominal scales are used to label or name music outcomes without specific order, similar to a checklist; ordinal scales use labels to classify music outcomes into ordered classes that may be measured, similar to a rubric (which is essentially a rating scale without numbers or letter grades assigned to descriptive categories). 75 of the assessment as it unfolds and develops into an artful assessment piece. It enables art educators to return to the roots of the term assidere, to sit and mindfully engage with students as the learning and assessment of that learning emerges and develops. This practice is rooted in the arts and evokes l’art pour l’art or as I would say, l’évaluation des arts à travers les arts. It draws from the creative arts a way of informing and shaping assessment practice and pedagogy in interdisciplinary ways, thus it redefines assessment methods that are available to teachers (Sinner, Leggo, Irwin, Grauer, & Gouzouasis, 2006, p. 1226). In doing so, it develops in an organic manner—it grows, flourishes, and stays alive as long as the learners and teacher are engaged in the assessment piece. Within my context, I believe this practice can transform the ways in which music educators can engage with assessment practices by evoking a reflexive, high quality, way-of-knowing and doing. Living assessment allows for listening to be made visible, and suggests a form of epistemic listening by enabling the teacher to help students learn to hear what they might otherwise not notice. Thus, it empowers music teachers, and visual and performing arts educators, to think about how and what they give value to, elaborate on, and make appreciable and shareable from creative learning experiences. 76 Chapter Four: The inception of living assessment 4.1 Prelude In the current chapter, I story the onset of my investigation into living assessment. At first, I am hesitant to immerse myself with this new practice, but as time goes on, I am enticed to scaffold assessments already familiar to me with this approach. While engaging with a practice of living assessment through working with digital documentation and the documentation wall, I begin to experience its potentials firsthand, and see the joy that artful assessments can bring to children. In light of the foregoing, I become inspired to expand beyond what is predictable and familiar to me and pursue the development of the pedagogical comic. Inspired by Bagley’s (2009) (re)presentation of a lived experience in a performance art piece, the abovementioned assessments elucidate how living assessment can provide the teacher and students with an opportunity to co-create an emotional, sensory, and kinesthetic experience around the (re)telling of their learning and meaning making (p. 290). The assessments in this chapter depict the course of an emergent inquiry with a Grade 1 class, and while a story of their learning unfolds, so too does my journey with living assessment. It is a journey that reflects the overarching educational principle of reciprocity that appears again and again as the children and I together guide not only the inquiry, but also the artful assessments of their learning. 4.2 Giving life to the documentation wall In the morning, Ms. Liu’s class explores the ecosystem of Boston Creek. Upon returning from their adventure, a few of the children help me depict their experience on the documentation wall in the music atelier—an act of pedagogical documentation that involves the creation of panels using photographs and texts to illustrate how students have expanded their knowledge during a learning experience. As the children and I reminisce over the photos and texts scattered 77 across a table in front of the wall, I think about the formative process of pedagogical documentation, which shows how an inquiry starts and expands to illuminate the theories and questions of the learning community. As I ponder how this wall can become an occasion for intense daily communication and reflection (Rinaldi, 1998, p. 121), I am puzzled as to how we can artfully arrange the texts and photos on the wall. While deliberating, Jennifer pins a photo of her classmates huddled around the first bridge in the middle of the board. “Why does that go there?” I inquire. “Because that’s where we started. It’s in the middle of the creek at the first bridge.” She points to the left side of the board. “This is where the start of the creek will be.” Then pointing to the right side, “Over here is where the sewer is.” The children and I take heed of her suggestion to map out our experience on the wall in a way that follows the course of the creek, and as the children’s quotes and photos begin to canvas the wall, they slowly and artfully illuminate our trip to the Creek. “Mr. Yanko, can we use the table as well?” asks Susan. “What do you mean? Do you want the pictures and words to be on the table? Are they too high up to read?” “No, it’s not that. I mean, the pictures and words show how our journey went, but we should also add all of this neat stuff to the table in front of the wall?” “Good idea,” Rob adds, “We can map the things on the table based on where we found them at the creek, so when people look at the wall they can also look at the map of our objects and pick them up to feel the experience through our hands.” 78 As we map the ecosystem on the table, the children feel the need to illustrate the creek and use light blue tiles to chart its course. A few tiles fall to the ground and Rob crawls under the table to find them. “Check this out,” he shouts, “Down here is like the dark place in the sewer.” Susan and Jennifer peek their heads under the table and exclaim, “The sewer!” “What about the sewer?” I prod. “We can turn this into the sewer for people to get into the creek and be part of it,” Jennifer suggests. Figure 4.2: Students constructing their imaginary sewer portal. Figure 4.1: Mapping the creek on table with found natural materials and loose parts. 79 They fasten a hula-hoop to the table to represent an outline of the sewer entrance, and wrap black fabric around it. Rob brings over a basket of tulle earth-tone fabrics to use for his classmates to act out the experience at the sewer. Once complete, I take a step back and take note of the livingness that resides in, and on, the documentation wall. The students have helped adapt a 2-dimenstional representation of their learning experience into a 3-dimension representation. Metaphorically speaking, they have broken the fourth wall to expand beyond the confines of the bulletin board to engage with the documentation in a tactile and playful manner through the artefacts on the table and the imaginary sewer underneath. I reflect on the ingenious idea of expanding beyond the wall to construct a living representation of their experience. Their imaginative thinking illuminates what Maxine Greene posits, “When students choose to view themselves in the midst of things and have the imagination to envision new things emerging, more and more beginnings seem possible” (1995, p. 22). The next day, I reminisce over the playful nature of the living documentation wall, and the continuous alterations and interpretations of it that were made by the children. I ponder how Figure 4.3: Dramatic play with the sewer portal. Figure 4.4: Making music in the sewer. 80 a learning space must undergo frequent modification by the children and the teachers in order to remain up-to-date and responsive to their needs to be protagonists in constructing their knowledge (Gouzouasis & Yanko, 2018a; Gandini, 1998, p. 177). I think about composing a blog post about the trip to the creek to share the experience with parents. I also reflect on how to frame the post to illuminate the musical elements of our experience that could not be captured through text and photographs. I turn to the living documentation wall for support, but this does not help. I pick up my iPad and scroll through video clips of our trip to the creek. As I watch the clips, I ruminate over how to bring that experience to life through a blog post. I take a deep breath and can already predict that this post is going to be quite the musical adventure. 4.3 Blog post: Our first exploration of the creek As the children, Ms. Liu, and I arrive at the creek they stop at a rickety old bridge, and everyone huddles together. “Wow! The water sounds fast, like a rushing tap,” exclaims Susan. “Look! There’s a family of bugs dancing on the water,” adds Jennifer as she mimics their jagged movements with her arms. From the bridge, the children venture into a forested area with tall mossy trees and prickly blackberry bushes. They follow a path that leads to a smaller trickling section of the creek. “The water by the bridge was way louder,” claims Paolo. “It still sounds like a dripping tap, but mixed with quiet flowing water,” adds Susan. “There’s almost no water here. Maybe the rocks and trees have something to do with it. “There are way more trees here,” ponders Calvin as he examines his surroundings. 81 After the discussion, the children follow a path towards an opening where a large tree stump rests. A few children use the tree stump as an instrument and make music by jumping on it and drumming the side of it. From there they continue down the path and stop where the water expands to a pool. Some of the students notice a pile of sticks and use them to explore the water. “What are you doing with those branches?” I ask. “I’m making music,” Michelle replies as she drums two sticks in the water. “Does the size of the drumstick make a difference?” She picks up a large branch and whacks it on the water. “This one is loud. The other isn’t loud, maybe because it isn’t big.” After the pool, the creek flows into a sewer pipe. “It sounds like a rushing stream that disappears into a big dark hole that goes down,” comments Jennifer. The students don’t have time to explore that area, as it is time to head back to school. Later that day, the children organize gathered leaves, pinecones, rocks, flowers, and sticks from the creek in the music atelier. While doing so they discover a slug on a leaf. They want to make it their class pet, and name it Slugly. Figure 4.5: Exploring the timbres of creek with sticks. 82 ***** The following Friday, we reflect on the trip to the creek and the children engage with the various elements of the living documentation wall. Ms. Liu also reads the blog post aloud to bring light to the sonic elements of the creek. All of a sudden, without provocation, the class spontaneously adds body-percussion to revive the timbres of the creek. As she reads the story, she welcomes their sound effects. They make swishing sounds with their mouths to evoke the stream, pat their hands on the carpet to imitate the drumming on the stump, and even use their fingertips to illustrate sticks swirling in the water. After the story we discuss where to go next with our inquiry. In inviting the children to negotiate a direction for their learning, we avoid prescriptive lessons and together search for the best way to proceed with our inquiry. The class decides to map out sections of the creek that are important to them. 4.4 Blog post: Mapping Boston Creek with loose parts Today we brainstorm a list of places at the creek that are important to us, and decide to map out those places. The students begin to work on reconstructing their favourite area of the creek in small groups using a variety of artefacts they found and loose parts. Ms. Liu works with a trio at the corner of the rectangular green rug. “Can you explain your section so far to me?” She asks. Pam states, “Those are the houses, we used wood blocks to make them. Over there is the start of the creek, and this is where it goes.” “What are the colourful scarves for?” “They are for the colours of the trees, leaves, grass, and other things around the creek,” Rob answers. 83 Figure 4.6: Mapping the creek with loose parts—bridge section. Ms. Liu makes her way along the creek’s path towards the first bridge. The children in this group are using long rectangular pieces of wood to create an outline for the creek and for the bridge. After the outline is constructed, the group runs to the front of the classroom and ponder over the selection of loose parts to map with. They return with handfuls of marbles, pinecones, and plastic figurines. “What are all those for?” Paolo dunks the marbles into the wooden form. “The marbles are for the water.” Calvin carefully places pinecones within the bed of the marbles. “These pinecones can be the fallen down trees we saw in the water.” Pam dances back from the pile of materials. “Look what I found. These blue bunnies are going to be the dancing water bugs.” At the opposite end of the green carpet, I work with a group as they map the sewer. “So, this is the forest side of the creek and here are two bunnies hiding behind the rocks?” 84 “Yeah on that side of the creek. The other side of it is the hillside. See, I put pinecones under the green carpet to make the map higher here.84 “What are these instruments for?” I ask, as he points to a bell and tiny cymbals. Jennifer replies, “That’s the sound of you putting the cans inside the plastic bag to get recycled.” I leave them to finish their section of the map and follow the path upstream to where the creek narrows into the forest. Rob tugs on my hand and directs me to his group’s section of the map, “Come check out our part, we put lots of sticks in it for trees.” As we arrive at the group, Katie vigorously shakes a wooden box. “I made an instrument for our part of the map.” “What is your instrument about?” “It’s us stomping and jumping on the leaves.”85 I point to a section of their map. “There are so many sticks in that pile. It looks like a beaver dam.” Rob replies, “Don’t be silly, there were no beavers there. There were lots of trees in that area, so we put lots of stuff on the map to show how impossible it was to get through the water. The sticks are for all of the trees that were blocking our way.” “I don’t see water in your part of the map. Why is that?” “The trees drink all of the water up. There isn’t much left,” Katie replies. 84 A video was added in the original blog post to elucidate their explanation of the map. See Chapter 4: Mapping sewer video - https://youtu.be/ycNG-cm2U9k 85 A video of Katie’s instrument is added here in the original blog post. See Chapter 4: Shaking instrument for map video - https://youtu.be/TutMyIAGMSA 85 I continue upstream to where the creek expands into a pool. Karen and Mary are using colourful tiles to create a large rectangle of water. Karen comments, “These animals are us exploring with the sticks in the water.” I inquire, “You have many different sizes of sticks. Are they different for a reason?” Mary explains, “Yes, those are the different sizes of sticks that we explored the water with. We wanted to see what the different sounds were with them.” **** I finish the class blog post and scroll through it before rendering it public. I watch the video clips imbedded within and contemplate transcribing them. I come to realize that transcribing the students’ explanation of their map or the playing of Katie’s instrument would hinder the complexity, creativity, and meaning making that comes to life through that media. I decide to leave the clips and ponder how they sit between realist and expressive representations in a blog post alongside text blocks and photographs. Also, I know that when I reflect on the experience again in a few days, it will be impossible to remember and retell these events using Figure 4.7: Section of their map that depicts exploring various sticks in the water. 86 language that exactly represents how it was lived and felt. Furthermore, video can arouse an empathetic response in the students in ways that writing and photographs cannot, as each form of media (text, video, images) can play a unique, different, and complementary role. 4.5 Blog post: A lament for Slugly Slugly is not doing so well and the class decides to return it to the creek. They want to do something special to say farewell, and compose a good-bye song with me. When we arrive at the creek, Ms. Liu takes the leaf that Slugly is resting on and places it in the stream to be carried away. The water slowly pushes the leaf downstream and the children begin to sing their farewell song as Slugly drifts away.86 4.6 Blog post: Recreating the timbres of the creek Today, we are exploring and creating using the gathered materials from the creek. I notice two girls shaking a large cylinder vigorously. “What are you making?” “It’s a shaking-creek-thingy,” Susan states as she and Michelle shake it together. “When we are at the creek we don’t just hear water,” Susan says, as she takes off the lid. “Look inside. There are rocks, sticks, and this green stuff. All of the creek makes the sounds that we hear, not just the water.” “It’s like a symphony that harmonizes the water with other elements in the creek. I like that idea,” I comment. Susan grabs a fistful of sand and plunks it into her instruments. They shake it. Both partners nod in affirmation. She adds a few pebbles and shakes it again. 86 A video of us performing our song to Slugly floating away on a maple leaf is added here in the original blog post. See Chapter 4: A lament for Slugly video - https://youtu.be/tynf9Q49ZX0 87 “Nope, not right!” She states and takes a few out. She shakes it again and is happy with the result. In the meantime, Ms. Liu is outside with students exploring water. Paolo taps a rhythmic ostinato on the rim of the tub, while Alex rapidly swirls a stick to create a long whirlpool note in the water. “What’s this song about?” Ms. Liu inquires. Alex replies, “It’s a water song. We use different beats for each part of the creek.” Paolo hands Ms. Liu a stick to join in. “You can play with us. We don’t have anyone to make music for the sewer part.” “How should the water at the sewer go?” she inquires. “It should be loud,” replies Alex. “And choppy, like this,” exclaims Paolo as he whacks the water. Figure 4.8: Filling bucket with leaves, twigs, and pinecones. Figure 4.9: Comparing the sound of the shaking instrument to that of the creek. 88 Ms. Liu reflects on their suggestions and joins their composition. 4.7 Picture boxes, text blocks, and speech bubbles: The pedagogical comic Over the weekend I ponder moving beyond the living documentation wall and digital documentation. I think about how I enjoyed reading Marvel comics as a kid with my brothers. My attention drifts to Archie comics and how those types of comics tend to reflect real life stories. Could I use comics as a medium for living assessment? Not knowing where to start, I begin to immerse myself in comics and graphic novel literature. After overwhelming myself, I become apprehensive to explore this means of assessment. As a composer, I know it takes great skill and imagination to create quality music, and the same can be said about comics. To calm myself and move forward with this endeavour, I reflect on living assessment and its roots in arts based research practices, whereby the processes of artistic practice are more important than the final product. That being said, just as music needs melodic and harmonic elements, comics also need certain structural principles. Figure 4.10: Making a song for the creek with sticks and a tub of water. 89 The digital comic takes the rest of the weekend to create, and I bring it to school on Monday to share with Ms. Liu. She skims through it and is intrigued by the format. That afternoon she and I take turns reading the story to the class. Figure 4.11: The opening pages of my first attempt at the pedagogical comic. Figure 4.12: Further into the pedagogical comic. 90 At first the students appear to be fascinated by it, but after a while some of them become restless. As their attention starts to drift, we summarize some of the lengthy dialogue to push through it. Paolo interrupts, “Where are all the superheroes?” “Yeah,” exclaims Calvin, “I don’t see Spiderman.” “These comics aren’t about superheroes, they’re about you,” I comment. “So, there’s no superheroes in it?” Paolo’s question is tinged with confusion. “No, not all comic books need superheroes. They can be about anyone, and this one is about your journey to the creek.” “That’s me?” exclaims Debbie. “Yes, it is. Can’t you tell by your boots?” Susan says, as she points to Debbie’s pink boot. By this point most of the children are fidgety and unable to extend their attention spans, and we end the comic reading there. **** After school, Ms. Liu and I discuss the comic. “I am not sure if it was the comic or if they were off today. The students were unable to sit through the comic.” Ms. Liu reflects on what happened, “They were a bit off in my class too, but they did bring up some valid points. The comic was quite long, and the text told more of the story than the pictures. The pictures need to work together with the text to tell a story. If your assessment is too text heavy it will not be received well, especially with younger children.” 91 “You’re right,” I reply. “I also think the presentation of comic had an effect on their capacity for attention. It wasn’t presented as a comic book that they could hold in their hands. It was projected onto the whiteboard.” “We were also reading the comic to them and that is a totally different than them reading each pane at their own pace,” she astutely adds. “Some of the students also seemed confused. They couldn’t connect with the story, even though it was about them. Everyone brings their subjunctive lens and interprets the learning experience differently…” Ms. Liu cuts in. “Learning to look through multiple perspectives is a great development in young learners, as it can help build bridges amongst themselves—through the use of the comic, we get to see your lens on the experience through the text and illustrations, and when we interpret them this process can provoke us to see others’ perspectives, reflect on our own, and even develop empathy.” “What do you think about the superhero comment? These students expected the comic to evoke fantasy and found it challenging to connect with a comic about themselves.” “It could have something to do with their cognitive capacities, Matt, but these kids have wonderful imaginations, so I am not sure. Try it again and take all of this feedback into consideration with your next comic.” **** The following week the students create another map about the timbres of the creek using small pieces of cardstock and markers. I reflect on that mapping experience and on the feedback for my first comic, and create a second comic assessment. This time I focus on balancing the text 92 and illustrations. I finish the comic in the evening, much faster than the first installment, and I am excited to share it with the students. That Friday I read the comic to the class. A few pages into it and the children appear to be more engaged than with the previous comic. There is already markedly less fidgeting and more fruitful comments about their learning experience. Figure 4.14: Further into the second pedagogical comic. Figure 4.13: Opening pages of my second pedagogical comic. 93 After we finish the story, I pose a provocative question. “Remember the comic I shared with you last week? Which one do you like better?” “This one!” Calvin exclaims. “Why this one?” “It’s better and cuz I’m in it,” he answers and a few kids chuckle. “The other one wasn’t like a comic. It was like a looong story,” Jennifer over emphasizes. “So, you like less words in the comic. Do the pictures help with the story?” “Yeah,” Pam replies, “because sometimes I just look at the pictures and I know where we are at in the story.” 4.8 Augmenting my foundations of assessment In the present chapter, I story the onset of my investigation into living assessment, and discover how it can illuminate and inspire qualitative forms of intelligence in the arts. Learning to paint, draw, and compose necessitate assessment practices that support and guide students as they reflect, imagine, and control their art making abilities. That is because thinking in the arts is a form of qualitative inquiry in which sensibility is engaged, imagination is promoted, technique is applied, and appraisal is undertaken (Eisner, 2002). Just as painting, drawing, and composing well requires thinking well within the constraints and affordances of the materials one uses, so too does the assessment of learning. I was hesitant at first to embrace the notion of living assessment. Yet, over time I accepted the potentiality of its guideposts, and was motivated to expand beyond my current assessment practices. As the Grade 1 class’s inquiry progressed, I had to be open and mindful of experiencing the nuanced qualities in their musical understandings and meaning making to allow for artful assessments that illuminate the complex and delicate processes involved in their learning. 94 4.9 From the second to the third dimension: The living documentation wall Documentation can be perceived as a language of meaning making: one that assumes teachers must take responsibility for making judgments, on the basis of deeply engaging with actual practices, struggling to interpret and make meaning of what they see, and relating it to the values they deem important (Dahlberg, Moss & Pence, 1999; Gouzouasis & Yanko, 2019, p. 491). Prior to examining learning through living assessment, the intent of my documentation wall was to create a snapshot of my students’ understandings, questions, and meaning making as an inquiry progressed. That process of assessment is based upon a belief that “the atelier is a place for researching motivations and theories of children from scribbles on up, a place for exploring variations in tools, techniques, and materials with which to work” (Gandini, Cadwell, Hill, & Schwall, 2005, p. 7). The guidepost of documentation is rooted in the pedagogical documentation practices of Reggio Emilia, which provokes the teacher to document in a manner that illuminates the learning experience, and furthers the inquiry by provoking more questions and wonders. In the atelier, I research motivations and theories, from simple sound explorations and creations, to composing music in many forms. The guidepost of documentation enabled me to capture and work with the documentation in a manner that retained the livingness of the learning experience. The guideposts of living assessment empowered the children, and me, to expand beyond the constraints of the traditional documentation wall in the music atelier.87 They encouraged me to foster a way of illustrating the complexity and valuing of our aesthetic and embodied experience at the creek. As the children and I pinned the photographs and texts on the wall, that 87 Traditionally, documentation walls emphasize a research lens, do not necessarily involve the children in the creation process, and tend not to be constructed with an artistic mindset. See https://www.thecompassschool.com/blog/power-documentation-reggio-inspired-classroom/ 95 means of documentation provided us with a visual memory of what was experienced and learned, and enabled us to revisit and expand upon our understandings. However, the wall did not provide us with the full means that we wanted to express in our documentation. We expanded beyond the constraints of the bulletin board and began using the surface of the table to evoke a tactile documentation map. During that process, through the guidepost of artistry the children constantly rearranged the artefacts in a creative manner and in accordance with where they remembered them at the creek. Their engagement illustrates how they were able to retrace their own processes to find confirmation or negation and self-correct. Reflecting on the term assidere, as the teacher it is my role to learn, document, and assess alongside my students. With that in mind, having children partake in the documentation process as co-documenters can provide an opportunity for them to obtain a deeper connection to the learning experience by becoming an integral part of the assessment process, and in turn, give value to their critical judgments, aesthetic perspectives, and self-worth. Living assessment enabled the children and I to document the learning experience through multiple and diverse variations. Through the guidepost of augmentation, the use of reciprocity provoked us to suspend our judgements and prejudices to enable us to reflect on our differences, theories, and perspectives. Such a process is not unlike a musical theme and variations, in which the children and I continuously work with the documentation artefacts to orchestrate and revisit our understandings, through a variety of visual, tactile, playful, and performative media. Also, augmentation enabled us to engage with metaphor and metonymy (Irwin & de Cosson, 2004; Gouzouasis, 2006a) to represent ways of understanding the world and making relationships accessible to the senses—i.e., through the creation and dramatization of our make believe sewer. Thus, illustrating how elements of drama can be woven into an assessment, whereby providing 96 the (s)p(l)ace (de Cosson, 2004) for students to participate in dramatic play to experience past embodied encounters and memories that conjure up deep signification and meanings that resonate from within. During this endeavour, I came to realize that the texts and photographs on the wall could not express the aesthetic and performative nature involved in the students’ learning experiences at the creek. As I embraced an artful practice of becoming and living—with, in and through assessment—I found that the students and I were engrossed in artistic processes, as the arts became more than a metaphorical conduit through which our imaginations could flow. If the role of imagination is to awaken—to disclose the ordinarily unseen, unheard, and unexpected—then the processes involved in living assessment allowed us to ascertain our creative flow. Thus, living assessment empowered me to provoke the children to engage with diverse artistic and imaginative modes of communication and expression, whereby they were able to disclose their understandings through iconic, symbolic, and performative representations. The children in this endeavour illustrate how play based learning is an important part of their daily lives. Similar to how Bagley and Cancienne (2001) move away from the monovocal and monological nature of the voice in print-based (re)presentations (p. 234), the students turned to dramatic play and the design and building of a dramatic set to give life to the documentation. Dramatic play as a means of assessment provoked the children and I to relive, interpret, and (re)present our understandings on another level. We expanded beyond the two-dimensional framework of the documentation wall to a third dimension, which enabled a performative way of seeking meaning. This three-dimensional, dramatic form “allows one to retain, at least somewhat, the human dimensions of the life experience qualitative research attempts to study [helping] to not lose research participants in the data or not transform them into dehumanized 97 stereotypes” (Donmoyer & Donmoyer, 2008, p. 216). Mienczakowski and Moore (2008) argue that theatricalizing data can extend the three-dimensional presentation of research to give “an empathetic power and dimension often lacking in standard qualitative research narratives” (p. 451). This “empathetic power” offers insights between the research presentation and the audience in which “the overall performance becomes a shared context that the actor [supported by the researcher] and audience member intimately construct and relate to because of their own emotional link to the topic of the research/performance” (p. 452). Whereas the traditional documentation wall provides a snapshot of learning, the framework of living assessment empowers students to go beyond the confines of a wall to bring the documentation to life—it provoked the children to reflect on the wall and engage in fruitful discourse; pick up artefacts, study them closer, and re-arrange them on the table; and participate in a dramatized means of documentation that reanimates their endeavour at the creek. Participation in that means of assessment, not only shows the value placed on the learning experience by the teacher and students, but also encourages multiple realms and media of interpretation and meaning making that could not be possible had we not engaged with the guideposts of living assessment. Furthermore, taking into account how living assessment embraces perception, consciousness, embodiment, and meaning in context, I turn to Husserl (1936/1970) who believes, “all of us together, belong to the world as living with one another in the world; and the world is our world, valid for our consciousness as existing precisely through this ‘living together.’ We, as living in wakeful world-consciousness, are constantly active on the basis of our passive having of the world” (p. 108). I consider how Husserl situates both the lifeworld and the subjectivity in which we live as contingent on one another, and the extent to which they emerge in such an assessment practice (Gouzouasis & Wiebe, 2018). 98 4.10 Re-sounding the music at the creek: Reflexively understanding digital documentation The value of living documentation—on a wall, on a table, and scattered across the floor of an atelier—is in its use as a visible, tactile, and performative assessment piece that captures and evokes the learning experience. It has a visible presence in the classroom that enables the students to return to it throughout the day. Having said that, in a music classroom, students primarily create sonic media, and digital forms of representation can enable an engagement with assessment pieces on an aural-oral level through the replay of sound and video clips (Gouzouasis & Yanko, 2019, p. 491). As a tool for documentation, digital technology can facilitate the representation and organization of ideas in different mediums, the communication of ideas and collaboration, the reflection of participants’ thinking, and the communication of learning to the broader community (Hong & Trepanier-Street, 2004, p. 88). Digital media can be easily trimmed and posted on a blog to communicate the learning that occurs, and the creativity, imagination, and meaning making that cannot be captured in text or image alone—as with the video of Slugly’s lament or Katie’s new instrument. Also, audio and video can be used to encourage students to express themselves directly to an audience through words and actions (Pink, 2011). Similar to the documentation panels on the walls of the atelier, through the guideposts of augmentation, digital documentation can provoke students to revisit and reflect on their learning experiences. Those media can be looked at repeatedly to recall past events and share more nuanced aspects of learning with families, children, and colleagues (Parnell & Bartlett, 2012, p. 56). Since many parents do not venture into the music room, the blog provides them with the possibilities of knowing what their child is doing, the how, wherefore and why, the when and where, the meaning given to what the child does, and the shared meanings among classmates. To compose the digital documentation in a meaningful way, I turned to the guidepost of 99 artistry to creatively weave together various digital media to illuminate the pedagogical value in our learning experiences. Through that process, I had to rely on my memory, notes, videos clips, and photographs. All the while, I had to attempt to stay true to the essence of what was said or captured, and to represent the learning that was unfolding in an honest manner (Beare & Belliveau, 2008, p. 146). Also, the children, through their eyes and hands, captured some of that media. To weave all of the abovementioned documentation into blog posts, I engaged with listening as an active verb to reflect on why, how, and what was captured by the children in using the iPad. By doing so, I was able to illuminate openness to our differences, and recognize the value of our interpretations and questions. The intent—when I artfully arrange notes, observations, narratives, recordings, photos, and video into digital documentation—is to make audible and visible the children’s learning processes, ways of constructing knowledge, and give them a voice in the experience. This tends to be through the lens of the teacher as a co-protagonist, who is just one of many characters in a blog post. In that regard, the documentation produced is only a partial finding that must be re-interpreted and discussed with others involved in the learning experience (Rinaldi, 2006, p. 57). To accomplish that, I sought guidance from the guideposts of augmentation, and focused on reflexivity and reciprocity to further the assessment beyond the lens of the teacher to provoke questions and discourse on what to do next. I also turned to the artographic practice of openings, to facilitate the possibility of new conversations and relationships to emerge (Springgay, Irwin, Leggo, & Gouzouasis, 2008). Through the class’s engagement with the blog posts, Ms. Liu and I sought to support and deepen the learning as new questions and understandings became visible. The guidepost of augmentation provided an opportunity to develop the spaces that lie amid documentation 100 artefacts: texts, images, materials, sounds, and video recordings. As she read the post aloud, the children began to make percussive sounds with their bodies. In doing so, they became active participants in the interpretation of the assessment piece. Ms. Liu perceived their interaction with openness, as she neither controlled nor dominated their learning. Rather, she demonstrated respect through mutual participation and joint action as they made meaning with the blog post in a musical, tactile way. Thus, illustrating the concept of “visible listening” in that image, text, and sound demonstrate the learner’s sensitivity to everything that connects them to others (Gouzouasis & Yanko, 2019, p. 491). With that in mind, through a practice of living assessment we can look to digital documentation as being more than a blog post, but as a technological medium that participates in the negotiation of social relationships, and as a medium through which meaning making is made audible and visible. That practice can instigate teachers to re-listen and re-tune their pedagogies of listening to develop a sense of awareness, deeper understandings, and potential avenues for musical growth. Rinaldi (2006) reminds us that while narrative is imbued with subjectivity, it is offered to others in order to be known or (re)known, created and recreated, and as a collective knowledge-building event (p. 52). Thus, through living assessment teachers can scaffold digital documentation to not only become visible and subject to interpretation, dialogue, confrontation, and understanding, but also musical, performative, and evocative. 4.11 Turning the pages of the pedagogical comic: Reflexive considerations As my investigation into living assessment advanced, I sought to expand beyond familiar assessment practices. I reflected on the many hours I had spent engrossed in comics during my childhood. As I reminisced, I ruminated over how the comic could become a media for assessment, and turned to living assessment for guidance. In doing so, I engaged with the 101 guidepost of artistry and began to frame the pedagogical comic by drawing on comic and graphic novel research in education (Postema, 2013; Cohn, 2013a, 2013b, 2012; Wood 2015; Gillenwater, 2012), arts based research that uses the comic as a methodological framework (LeBlanc & Irwin, 2018; Sousanis, 2015; Jones & Woglom, 2013), and practices involved in comic and graphic novel making (W. Eisner, 1985/2008; McCloud, 1993). Comics and graphic novels can be very similar at times, as both tend to be comprised of boxed pictures, texts, and contain several boxes per page. However, the term ‘comic’ is of preference to graphic novel, as a graphic novel is longer and tells a complete stand-alone story, whereas comics are often issued in successive parts. For that reason, the term ‘comic’ is best suited for this practice of assessment, as it illuminates the living nature of a learning experience that sequentially develops over time. The guidepost of artistry enabled me to use the practices and tools involved in creating a comic to bring light to the imagination, understanding, and curiosities that emerged in the two learning experiences. I considered how LeBlanc and Irwin (2018) use comic-based research to generate multiple and diverse voices by incorporating the lived experiences of people in place, and people in relation to place. In a similar manner to the blog posts, augmentation supported me as I provided openings that enabled the possibility of new conversations and relationships. Those openings afforded unexpected (s)p(l)ace (de Cosson, 2003) to be explored, which brought about new meanings and ways of coming to know. The children’s comments during the sharing of the comics were enabled through the use of gutters, which are the spaces between panels that connect the panels to create the story. In an assessment piece, gutters can separate action-to-action, aspect-to-aspect, moment-to-moment, scene-to-scene, and subject-to-subject (McCloud, 1993). The students navigated the space between images contained in panels to complete a story told in pictures, whereby they provided interpretations, questions, and further insights. Thus, 102 whether it is analyzing the shape of word balloons, the movements between panels, the placement of speed lines, or the difference between character, dialogue, and setting, the students use emergent visual literacy to understand the entire assessment piece (Rapp, 2011). During the sharing of a comic, the discourse that emerges illustrates how students reflect, interpret, and question the assessment through the lens of the assessor.88 Although the two comics were projected on the white board for the whole class to see, if they had been printed as books and handed out, each child would have been able to engage with the comics at a comfortable pace. In that experience, the guidepost of augmentation enabled the children to feel secure and confident to provide feedback concerning how the first comic lacked the conventional balancing of texts and graphics to maintain attention. Ms. Liu also brought to light how the action in it should have been less descriptive and more visual to prompt the students to comprehend the assessment as it was being shared (McTaggart, 2008). The feedback provoked me to reflect on visual processing and how it can be faster than text-only processing, as it can facilitate the images to become more powerful mechanisms for teaching (Burmack, 2008). This is especially important for young learners, as their primary engagement with literature tends to consist heavily of images in picture books. With those notions in mind, I reflected on how to better my practice of assessment with the second pedagogical comic, and sought to remedy issues concerning comprehension and engagement. I focused on how the comic can support visual media to increase students’ knowledge of what is being assessed, and considered how images are shown simultaneously on a page to let students see the whole story at once, and then be able to zoom in to study each part in detail through the sequential nature of the words. The visuals in a comic can be laden with symbolism, and the symbolic openness of the 88 The students also become connoisseurs in Eisner’s (1991) sense of the term, and in Yanko and Gouzouasis (2020) way that zooms in to focus and reflect on their aesthetic understandings and capabilities. 103 assessment piece provokes the students to articulate multiple interpretations. The guidepost of augmentation enabled the children to embrace their imaginative capacities to interpret the symbolism and put all the pieces of a page together to get the full meaning of the story. Also, the visual structure of the comic directed the students to important concepts, wonders, and understandings that materialized in the narrative of the learning experience, which in turn allowed for deeper reflection and interpretation of questions, inferences, and understandings. Furthermore, illuminating the sonic elements of the creek required the use of onomatopoeia and invented words to convey a distinctive sense of the perceived sounds. The skillful use of such language is the result of having developed both certain modes of thought and a receptive attitude toward their use in an assessment that draws on connoisseurship and criticism (Eisner, 2002). In exploring the strengths and limitations of the pedagogical comic, I came to quickly realize how different, exciting, and fun it was to engage with this form of assessment, for both the students and me. I take to heart how this medium can be a “dynamic format of image and word that delivers meaning and enjoyment” (Simmons, 2003, p. 12). Assessment does not have to be prescriptive, mundane, and reactionary. I realize that a pedagogical comic takes time to compose and some educators will react to that. However, the process of art making should not be rushed, and neither should the assessment of that. Clare Boothe Luce posits that the height of sophistication is simplicity (1931). With that in mind, the reflection, valuing, and thoughtful details that accentuate the artful weaving of images, texts, and speech bubbles into a complex, yet simplified medium of assessment, provokes the assessor to empower the comic to become pedagogical. The teacher not only reflects on what is being assessed, but how to express that in the form of a comic—balancing, reinterpreting, and giving life to meanings through images with limited text. Thus, presenting an assessment through a pedagogical comic can awaken 104 imagination and unveil the ordinarily unseen, unheard, and unexpected. 4.12 A reflective interlude Living assessment provides an opportunity to employ artistic practices that bring life to an assessment, free of prescriptive rigors. This freedom is not only refreshing, but is also an autonomous way of empowering the arts to give colour, function, and life to the arts. Thus, as I began exploring the guideposts of living assessment, I started to understand how the processes involved in crafting an artful assessment allows for a way of searching in order to see, and implies a need to have something to say, which in turn provoked me to look more intently into what and how valuing emerged in the assessments. As I dug deeper into this artful way of being in assessment, I came to understand how it empowers the teacher to show valuing through the arts, which in itself is advantageous to learners, as they can encounter what they have done in the form of artistic renderings to see the meaning that the teacher has drawn from their work. When students flip through the pages of a pedagogical comic or click on the audio and visual links in digital documentation, they are able to see what they do has value and meaning—enabling them to discover that they exist and can emerge from anonymity and invisibility, and can see that what they say and do is important and appreciated (Giudici, Krechevsky, & Rinaldi, 2001, p. 87). Ultimately, everything we did is a way of conceptualizing and making “the entire environment as a work of art (McLuhan & Parker, 1968. p. 7). As I engaged with living assessment in this chapter, I reflected on how the enlargement of life through the arts can become a powerful way to see what is credible (Eisner, 2002). By making the learning experience larger than life, and re-contextualizing learning and teaching—i.e., through a pedagogical comic, or by way of dramatizing the lived experience—our perception of what is being assessed can be made more audible and visible. Our imaginative 105 conception in such situations functions as a filter, or template, by which we reorganize our perception of the world, whereby we acquire new schemata. Engaging with the guidepost of artistry allows the practices and tools involved in art making to help students become acutely aware of, and attend to, artistic qualities and their expressive content (Yanko & Gouzouasis, 2020). In doing so, they learn to use a particular frame of reference. The arts provide a platform for seeing things in ways other than they are normally seen, and in so doing they help us wonder and imagine, “Why not?” Through a framework of living assessment, one can attempt to reveal signification by engaging with aesthetic criticism that enables the capturing and interpretation of qualitative forms of life imbedded in what is being assessed. The interpretation within that process involves a way of sense making that requires a deeper understanding of the students and the context, the meanings of iconography that were used, the technical means employed to create the piece, and the aesthetic language the children use to describe and discuss their artful engagement with meaning making (Yanko & Gouzouasis, 2020; Beardsley, 1958; Eisner, 2002). Living assessment guided the unfolding of the assessments in this chapter, and enabled me to reflect on how interpretation can be perceived as an effort to penetrate the surface features of what is being assessed in order to construct meanings that would otherwise not be available. I found that the use of metonymy and metaphorical forms of expression encouraged the children to seek meanings and significance imbedded within the various assessments. Such a search goes well beyond exclamations of preference into the deeper questions of justified judgment, even when differences in judgment cannot be resolved. With that in mind, as students participate in artful (re)presentations of their learning experiences, they develop critical, analytical, and visual skills and begin to develop connoisseur- and critic-like practices (Yanko & Gouzouasis, 2020). And as 106 those (re)presentations emerge, it is important that educators engage with critical statements to evoke descriptive, interpretive, and evaluative discourse (Beardsley, 1958)—as the more time students spend experiencing and discussing the arts, the greater their enjoyment and understanding of the arts can be (p. 710). In composing an assessment, the teacher begins with vision and ends with words, whereas the student starts with the assessment and ends with vision. Eisner (2002) sees this exchange as cyclical, in that both teacher and student broaden their awareness within the frames of the assessment. In the present chapter, the guidepost of augmentation facilitated and expedited an expanded awareness to provoke the children to develop an understanding of what was being disclosed in the diverse assessments. Therefore, if understanding can be conceived of as the enhanced experience of qualities so that relationships are noticed, relationships that confer upon component qualities a pervasive quality, then the arts, and the artistic assessments of them, also amplify human understanding—as illustrated through the co-construction of the living documentation wall, percussive engagement with the sharing of the blog post, or the discourse involved in the sharing of the pedagogical comics. It seems as if the learners in the atelier became “The artists of our culture, ‘the antennae of the race’” (McLuhan & McLuhan, 1988, p. 47) as they tuned in to multiple forms of representations of knowledge. Thus, in this chapter I discovered that living assessment involves much more than a teacher’s awareness of what is being assessed on a surface level. It involves a way of being moved, of discovering something new in one’s own capacity to be moved, and is a way of exploring the deepest parts of one’s interior landscape (Eisner, 2002, p. 84). 107 Chapter Five: Amplifying the performing arts through living assessment 5.1 A prologue to our school production After embracing the pedagogical comic, I am inspired to explore the potentials of the guidepost of artistry with other artforms. Thus far, I feel liberated from the prescriptive rigors of conventional assessments, and have realized that there is importance in the assessment of the arts to exist apart from what is predictable and unvarying. I have come to understand that living assessment necessitates an artistic mindset to not only enliven the process of assessment, but to bring light to artistic elements in the learning experience that could not be done so through other means. In the current chapter, I am in the midst of preparing the students for a musical production. Every year I compose and orchestrate a school wide musical for all 500 elementary school students. This year’s concert, “LOVE IT OR LI$T IT: NORTH POLE,” is based on a synthesis of HGTV shows. The music is a selection of popular hits throughout the ages turned into parodies of Santa contemplating to keep his renovated manor in the North Pole, or list it and relocate. As preparations for the concert get underway, I step back to reflect on the wide array of learning that surfaces in a production. I ruminate over the past, and how I was unable to shed light to the grandeur of understanding, creativity, and personal growth that students experience. I question how one can assess all that encompasses such an experience, as it involves much more than the memorization of music and movement. Many students learn how to perform as an ensemble, the particulars of blocking and acting, and how to overcome stage fright. Some even learn microphone techniques, how to run the sound system, and conduct scene changes, while others use their artistic skillsets to create scenery, costumes, and props. The list goes on and on, and each intricate aspect necessitates listening, negotiation, and empathy in order to bring such a 108 production to life. There is a commitment by the entire school community to make the production a meaningful and memorable experience, but sadly the conventional means of assessment that I have employed in previous years has been unsuitable to illuminate the learning that materializes. From experience, literature, and discourse pertaining to the assessment of learning that occurs in a school production, I have found that these tend to be based on participation, focus on the final performance, or involve the teacher employing singing tests along the way to test student memory. Rote learning as a pedagogical strategy helps prepare students for a production, but it should not receive the most attention when it comes to assessment. Also, some teachers use self-reflections after a production, but these do not help with the formative aspect of reflexivity, nor enable feedback for growth in the course of preparations. The abovementioned assessment practices are not devised for performing arts experiences and sadly hinder opportunity to bring light to the profound, heartfelt aspects of preparing for a concert. Thus, this year I seek to examine the potentials of weaving together the artistic pedagogies and practices of the performing arts with living assessment. I ponder how “evocation through artistic (re)presentation propagating a discernment of multiple meanings, interpretations, and voices that evocatively engage the reader/viewer in recognition of lived diversity and complexity” (Bagley & Castro-Salazar, 2010, p. 148), and think about how I can ‘(re)present’ the lived diversity and complexity involved in the performative learning experiences that unfold with my students. Admittedly I am still wary of the unknown, as drawing on the performing arts to assess creative, aesthetic, and exploratory learning experiences is novel and unconventional. To ascertain a sense of encouragement, I turn to Maxine Greene (1995) who believes that the arts provide powerful opportunities for confronting the blandness of life and imagining a different world. 109 As this chapter unfolds alongside our preparations for the concert, I come to understand how I can enliven assessment practices to enrich meaning making, valuing, and understanding by working with the performing arts—the medium of sound, body in motion, and language/gesture of movement in space. In doing so, these assessments empower my students and self to engage with what Conquergood (1998) calls “Performance-sensitive ways of knowing” (p. 26). Two performing arts assessment pieces are offered in this chapter: The first is in the form of a song, which illuminates a concern by a Grade 4/5 class with some of the actions for the opening number of the musical. The second is composed as a musical theatre script and focuses on Grade 6 students who are struggling with the idea of performing in front of their peers and an audience. 5.2 An assessment in song The preparations for our musical production are well underway, and this afternoon I am working with the Grade 4/5 students on the opening number. This class is tasked with one of the most important roles, they are the choir that supports each musical number. Memorizing all of the music and actions is a difficult undertaking for them, but they are learning all of the pieces with determination. “Let’s review the movements for the introduction. There are four counts of the Charleston wobbly knees, followed by four counts of peace fingers across your eyes.” I demonstrate. The students learn the movements and get into their starting positions. As the backing track of Our House by the band Madness starts up, they start bopping to the beat and perform the actions without hesitation. “The next part goes like this.” “Mother wears her Sunday dress,” I sing, while slowly lowering my arms from head to hips. 110 The students copy effortlessly, and we continue without pause. “Santa’s tired, he needs a rest,” I stretch the words as I place the backside of a hand on my forehead to indicate weariness. “The house is old,” I slowly sing while reaching my arms to make a roof above my head, then quickly transition to shivering while I cross arms and shudder, “this place is cold.” I begin bopping and raise my hands to make antlers on my head, “Rudolph playing reindeer games.” My hands grasp my hips and I give the class a disappointing headshake, “Everyday it’s just the same,” before ending the verse with the line “it’s time for a change,” I gently tap a wrist. Calvin asks, “Can we try that from the top?” Cynthia shouts out, “Wait, wait. Is it ok if we make some changes? Those actions are, you know, ok. But the beginning could be better. Some of us learned some cool Fortnight dance moves, like this.” She punches down four times. “That is rather neat. I like how your knees buckle as you punch down.” I turn to the class, “Can everyone try that?” Marco adds, “We need something else before the punches. The music has a cool bopping beat to it, what if we walk on the spot and slowly raise our arms up like this.” “We could combine that with my punches,” Cynthia says. “But don’t get rid of the sprinkler, I like that action,” I add. “Yeah we should keep that. For ‘Our house, made of gingerbread and sweets,’ we should make a roof over our heads with hands, but go into question shoulder shrugs with our palms flat up. Shimming from side to side,” Cynthia demonstrates. We work on it together a bit more and the entire class is engaged and mindfully negotiating changes to the piece. 111 “I like it. Thanks for making the changes. Sometimes my moves don’t go with a piece. I try to keep them simple so that the younger kids can do them, but this is the opening number that you are singing on your own. I am glad that you are adapting it to make it your own.” After school, I work on composing an assessment piece in the style of a song to illustrate how their learning developed. I am drawn to the format of song because certain arts, like music, transcend into other art forms like dance, theatre, and poetry, and the teacher should have the opportunity to use various arts based methods and practices that are organic and changeable to best assess the learning at hand (Gouzouasis, 2008; Gouzouasis et al., 2014). I crank up the same tune and attempt to perform it with as much gusto as Kevin Bacon in Footloose. As I get into the song, I begin to change the words and actions to depict what occurred today. I quickly pause the music and jot down some notes. After I finish my sketch, I type it up to share with them tomorrow. Our House Starting pose bopping arms crossed Spoken to dance moves: Open arms up Walking straight arms Punch, punch, punch, punch Spri-nk-ler it Doesn’t that fit better than what you had? Sung: Mr. Yanko tries his best (nod) His dance moves, they need a rest (twist down, arms to chest) His actions are old, they just don’t go (hand hip and shake head) Our dance moves gotta be reclaimed (punch up) every song is just the same (yawn) it’s time for a change (roll arms right to left) Our house, made of gingerbread and sweets Our house, made of gingerbread 112 The students help to fix it all (arms side to side) Give them a chance to change it up (right hook) Let them try to deck the Hall (deck halls action up) an arm shimmy from side to side (same as dance) add that to our house gesture (roof) it’s time to rearrange (roll arms right to left) Our house, made of gingerbread and sweets Our house, made of gingerbread (Spoken: Yeah! that works quite well) Our house, made of gingerbread and sweets Our house, made of gingerbread Let’s try to fix the intro (ponder chin) 80s moves just don’t go (running man) A few bops from fort night to n’ fro (4 punches down) This song’s moves we wanna reclaim (thumbs in) every song is just the same (hands him) it’s time for a change (roll arms right to left) [Instrumental Interlude] Our house, made of gingerbread and sweets Our house, made of gingerbread I remember, I remember (point to head) fresh dance moves, fresh dance moves (fishy up 2 right, then left) much more hip (arms circle, spread up) Not boring and stiff (rigid straight and tall) I remember, I remember fresh dance moves, fresh dance moves (fishy up 2 right, then left) much more hip Not boring and stiff Fresh new move got us moving (sprinkler) full of smiles and grooving (circle up with smile) this ole’ song is hip again (running move, straight arms) We had to add some disco fingers (disco fingers) An ode to Ms. Tanaka (disco other side) it’s time to rearrange (roll arms) Our house, made of gingerbread and sweets Our house, made of gingerbread 113 Repeat 4x Teacher reflection: Marco and Cynthia you extended your learning in this experience by creating dance moves that fit in time with the piece. You taught those to your classmates and by doing so you helped your class take ownership of the piece. You also kept some of the original elements, like Ms. Tanaka’s disco arms and Mr. Yanko’s sprinkler, which shows empathy and willingness to incorporate others into your learning. **** At the beginning of the next class meeting, I project the lyrics onto the whiteboard. “What’s that, those aren’t our lyrics?” Cynthia observes. “It looks like our song, but it’s different. Why is your name in there? Why is mine?” Marco questions. “Wait until the rest of the class arrives and I will go over it.” As the class settles in, I explain my work on the script. “I rewrote the opening number. The following song is an assessment that focuses on what happened yesterday. The lyrics tell a story of how Marco, Cynthia, and the rest of you took an initiative to alter the piece to make it your own. I will perform it for you.” Stephanie turns on the track and I begin to perform. Not even ten seconds into it the entire class is up, singing and performing the actions with me. I am grateful to have their support. The piece fades to an end and they holler, “Again! Again!” After our encore, we reflect on the value and effort made to alter the piece, so that it could become the one song in the performance that they could call their own. A discussion emerges on the negotiation of subjectivities during our last session and the reasoning behind keeping some of Ms. Tanaka (an education assistant) and my actions in the piece. The students wanted to show that it wasn’t just their composition, but a work that involves everyone in the learning community. That comment made Ms. Tanaka and I smile. After the discussion we move 114 onto the other songs, and I notice that they are focused on dissecting the movements, and taking an initiative to refine them as well. 5.3 Discussion on music based assessments Alan Lomax (1968) believes the chief function of song is to express shared feelings and mould the joint activities of human community. For centuries, songs have been written to convey stories of history and culture, with vocal music being the most evident form of musical communication. Songs humanize, because the best songs help us connect back to our own sense of humanity in a live performance. In the process, they also allow listeners to connect back to their own humanity and to connect to each other (Gauthier, 2013). Through the guidepost of artistry, I reflected and engaged with the art of songwriting. Songwriting has the potential to weave words and music together to transmit meanings in multi-modal ways (Levitin, 2008), and can be creative, interpretive, and metaphoric. Bakan (2014) posits, “In song, music ideas interweave with linguistic ones to enhance both. Communicating in words as well as in musically organized sounds, songs provide their textual meaning in multiple domains. Lyrics evoke symbolic resonance through language, story, narrative, rhythm, and rhyme” (p. 43). Accordingly, song assessments can expand to encompass cross-curricular, interdisciplinary, and multifaceted aspects of learning, whereby they can be perceived as being a universal human practice. My examination of song assessments seeks to illustrate how they can broaden our understandings of the lived musical experience of students. During the process of composing song assessments, I turned to folk songs for guidance. Historically speaking, folk songs are songs that are part of the daily life of the working class, and in that spirit, I sought to compose assessments about the struggles, challenges, and accomplishments of everyday learning experiences—they are not meant to be formalized 115 compositions, but songs made for the learning community, by the learning community. In composing my assessment, I turned to the guideposts of artistry, documentation, and the learning story to support how I narrate the learning experience through lyrics, and enable it to become pedagogical. During the process of writing lyrics, I had to reflect on how songwriters aim to make personal commentary on subjects, with the focus often on lived experience, using sense-bound writing to access that experience (Jacobsen, 2018, p. 117). An assessment in song can use storytelling and visceral, sense-bound imagery as a means to invite students to participate in the assessment in a performative, non-passive way. To do so, I had to reflect on how specificity is important to the process of song writing. I had to think about how sense-bound imagery and specific places, times, and identities are essential to draw the students into the story. The guideposts of augmentation and artistry enabled the song assessment to be more than a mere document of the learning, as it has elements of plot and encourages feedback for growth that was woven directly into the lyrics. That being said, I added a reflection afterwards to show other educators that this means of assessment is poetic, subjective, and may require a reflection at the end to expand upon or clarify ideas in the song. My song is culturally defined by the learning community and would be perceived differently if taken out of context. The artform used as a framework for the assessment needs to be relevant to the learning experience and the learners—I used elements of a song that is special and important to my students, because it is their solo piece in the concert and one with which they are very familiar. Also, as I composed my song, I contemplated other songs as a template, but came to the conclusion that the original piece was best suited, as it not only enabled me to illuminate the assessment through the lyrics, but also reinforced their understanding of the piece and its form. That is not unlike the practice of 116 learning a song or lines in a play where the performer knows a piece well enough to perform it inside-out and add subtleties of their own to it. Living assessment is an organic approach that not only documents and enables discourse on learning, but also furthers artistic thinking, making, and doing over the course of educational experiences. It enables the teacher to turn to the guidepost of artistry to draw upon compositional practices involved in music to provide an assessment of artistic thinking, doing, and making. With that in mind, the poet Longfellow (1835) believes that music is, metaphorically speaking, a universal language of humankind. It can be argued that music is an important part of what makes us human, and can be perceived as a vehicle for recognizing and directly experiencing our common humanity. By enabling us to feel our intra- and interconnectedness as human beings, music can help to make us more humane. This practice can also draw the listener into the learning experience by offering a unique expression of emotion, meaning, and sentiment, as did the piece when shared with the students. As soon as the backing track started the class was up on their feet and singing the piece with me. Furthermore, Susan Langer (1953) believes that the essence of all music is the semblance of organic movement, and because feeling exists only in living organisms, the logic of all symbols that can express feeling is the logic of organic processes. I think about what I was able to do through song and ponder the potentials of an instrumental music assessment in the future. I return to Langer who posits, “All life is rhythmic …This rhythmic character of organism permeates music, because music is a symbolic presentation of the highest organic response, the emotional life of human beings” (p. 126), and reflect on the potentials of music composition to bring life to instrumental and compositional experiences in the classroom. 117 5.4 A scripted musical theatre assessment Excitement fills the air, as our winter musical production draws near. The cast of actors have been diligently practicing their lines and blocking, and the classes are well underway in having their pieces learned and memorized. Most importantly, the kindergarten students are as eager to perform for their parents as for Santa’s arrival. This week the focus is on memorizing the music. Most of the classes have committed their songs to memory, but some of the students in my Grade 6 class have been struggling to perform with conviction, as they feel singing is uncool and embarrassing. Trying to hide my frustration, I commence with my critique. “First of all, it’s just too quiet. I know that you know the actions and the words, but some of you aren’t even moving your lips. Together, you make a choir.” I point at random students. “And that involves everyone singing together, not just a few of you.” I take a slow deep breath before continuing. “Second, some of you look grumpy. This is a performance that not only involves singing, but movements. You’re going to practice again, and this time I want to see smiles and bigger actions.” I notice a few kids mumble under their breath. I pull up a chair and sit in front of the class. “Pretend it’s the night of the concert, and that I am a parent in the audience.” I cue the backing track to We built this city by the band Starships, and the students begin to bop to the 1980s rock beat. A few of them take the lead and are consistently synchronous with the words and movements. As the song progresses, I again notice a handful of students at the back who are barely singing. I look directly at the pack of pre-teens hardly moving their lips and 118 doing half-hearted actions, and try to make eye contact to show I can tell they are not singing. My effort is ignored. I hear a soprano male voice cut through the pack of whispered singers from the back of the class. I stand on my seat to see who it is and observe Michael singing and doing all of the actions clearly. I give him a smile of encouragement. As the tune comes to an end, stillness fills the air. I look around the room in silence. “Michael, I have never heard you sing like that before.” “You said that it’s our last year and every year I don’t really care about the concert. What you said about this being my last concert got to me and I want my parents to be proud of at least one of my performances.” Surprised by his comment, I state, “Is it okay if I move you closer to the front? I couldn’t see you from where I was sitting, and if I can’t see you from where I am sitting your parents might not see you either.” “Sure,” he shrugs and joins the students at the front. I look around the room before continuing, “Let’s do the ending one more time. You know the words and the actions; it’s just a matter of making your actions bigger and singing out. You just have to commit to it.” As I cue the music, Ms. Liu’s Grade 1 class could be heard outside singing their song and waiting to come in. I turn up the music to drown them out and the students pick up from the last chorus, but still no matter how much we practice, some of them just mumble or lip-synch the words. I ponder giving a singing quiz next week to show that they have the words memorized, but quickly dismiss that thought as memorization is not a concern. The issue is their attitude towards singing and performing. I send them back to their classroom and as they leave, a heard 119 of Grade 1 students impatiently push their way past them to get in their starting positions, eager to sing. Throughout the afternoon, my mind wanders to the Grade 6 class and how to get them engaged as performers. I reflect on my unsuccessful efforts using verbal feedback, and reflect on living assessment and how to give feedback in a musical, yet dramatic form. After school, I sit at my desk and compose an assessment piece written in the style of a musical script. I skim through different pieces similar to their song to use as a template, but I am hesitant to use a piece of music that may be unfamiliar. I decide to use their composition for the concert as my template, as they are most familiar with its structure, and the movement and music in it are what need to be refined. As my scriptwriting process unfolds, I reflect on how this assessment can shed light on their progress thus far in preparing for the concert, as well as how familiar tools and practices of the performing arts can elucidate where growth is needed. I finish typing up the assessment and practice the singing and acting parts before heading home. The next day, instead of going straight into their song, we gather in a semi-circle. I project the assessment on the board for them to read. “What’s that? It looks like a script,” comments Tom. “It’s an assessment I wrote last night about your learning experience so far with your song for the concert.” “Like a mark? I don’t remember doing a singing test,” Allan interjects. “No, it’s nothing like a singing test. There’s nothing to test you on here. It’s a different way of showing what you learned and what needs to be worked on.” The students are intrigued and skim through the first page. Tom shouts out, “Look, Michael’s in it!” 120 “This seems interesting. Can we read through it together? I want to read the part of Mr. Yanko,” Levi states. “I can read my lines,” Michael says. “The rest of us can sing and do the actions when needed, I add. Everyone stands up to perform the musical theatre assessment and we quickly run through the blocking notes. When ready, I put on the backing track and our attention is focused on performing the assessment. We fixed this house for Santa Claus: An Ethnodramatic assessment Cast 2-4 (teacher, Michael, 2 classmates) Empty stage with spotlight focused solely on actors. Scene opens with backing track to Starships We built this city. **** Students are standing centre stage, arms crossed during the beginning music, bopping slightly to the beat with no effort. Mr. Yanko: (standing to right or left of performers and slightly in front of them). We have been practicing this song for our winter musical for a few weeks now. All the other classes have their lyrics learnt with actions, but this class is hesitant. I hope they’ll be ready in time for our concert next week. After the drum solo transition, students begin dance moves. Left arm straight out with a pointer finger, from right side of body to left in front of chest, once the student reaches the left side, they pump their arm straight up, then pull it back down. Alternate left and right arm, two times each arm. Students freeze after pull arm down last time. Mr. Yanko: These students know the words and most of the actions, but they just aren’t performing it as well as I know they can. I’ve taught them since kindergarten, and in previous years they’ve done amazing performances and really get into the music. Especially when they were in the primary grades. But now it seems there’s something about their age and being self-conscious about performing, singing, and dancing. (bopping). I can’t hear you ... (cup hand to ear) All sing: And Santa will be so proud, when he sees how it looks, don’t you think so? We fixed this house. We fixed this house for Santa Claus. We fixed this 121 house. We fixed this house for Santa Claus. We fixed this house. We fixed this house for Santa Claus. Students dance two times same as opening. Mr. Yanko: Come on. Get into it. This is your last elementary school Christmas concert that your parents are going to see. Some of you look so grumpy. Where are those smiles? (Demonstrate a big smile) (Bop for a few seconds). That’s better. I can’t hear you in the back row. (Cup hand to ear) Don’t shout! Use your best loud singing voice. Listen to your neighbours and try to blend with them. All sing: And Santa will be so proud, when he sees how it looks, don’t you think so? We fixed this house. We fixed this house for Santa Claus. We fixed this house. We fixed this house for Santa Claus. We fixed this house. We fixed this house for Santa Claus. Mr. Yanko: (Walk out of the lighted stage further to one side and pretend take notice of a student in front of you). Now this is unusual. Michael is singing and doing all of the dance moves. In fact, he’s the only one in this area on stage even bopping to the beat, that it’s very noticeable. He usually blends in with his friends, and is sometimes resistant to taking the time to practice and work on our pieces in class. (Walks back to original spot in stage light) Michael, can you move here? To the front row please. What has gotten into you? You never get into the music like this. You’re the only one out of all your friends who is bopping, singing, and doing all of the actions in the back row. Michael: I haven’t had good experiences with music. I want them to be proud of me. Mr. Yanko: Who do you want to be proud? Michael: My parents. I want them to know that I’m trying my best and want to show them that I can do this. Mr. Yanko: That’s very impressive and courageous. I am sure they will be when they see you perform at the concert. All singing: And Santa will be so proud, when he sees how it looks, don’t you think so? We fixed this house. We fixed this house for Santa Claus. We fixed this house. We fixed this house for Santa Claus. We fixed this house. We fixed this house for Santa Claus. 122 Fade music to end. Reflection: Michael, over the course of learning your class’s song for the winter musical, you showed how you are able to sing all of the lyrics with the correct actions. During the rehearsals you performed with enthusiasm and a strong stage presence. It is encouraging to see you grow as a performer and not be afraid to sing out loud and move to the beat of the song. **** “Let’s do it once more, I want to get into the actions more,” Samantha comments. “Yeah, I felt I could read the Mr. Yanko part a bit better,” Levi stresses. “OK, one more time, but then we need to talk about it.” We perform the assessment piece again. I notice that they’re putting more effort into this piece than their actual concert piece. Afterwards, we return to our semi-circle to debrief. “I’m confounded by what just happened. All of you were singing and performing the actions. You even looked like you were having fun. You don’t do that with your song, but you did it with the assessment and they’re basically the same thing.” “Yeah, but this one is fun, and we aren’t performing on the stage,” Levi replies. “So, you’re saying I should get you to sing this piece instead?” No way,” objects Michael. “That song is about me. I don’t want a song about me in the concert.” “I know. I was kidding.” I turn and give my attention to the entire class, “What was the musical script about?” “It was about us not performing well and Michael wanting to do a good job for his parents,” answers Stephanie. 123 “Right, so next week during the rehearsals in the gym you have to perform it with that same gusto, pizzazz, energy or whatever you want to call it. There are no excuses. You’ve showed me that you know the words and actions, as well as how to perform and have fun.” We run through their performance piece once more. When we finish, they march back to their classroom while everyone enthusiastically chants—And Santa will be so proud… 5.5 Discussion on theatre based assessments Great theatre challenges us to think and encourages us to imagine a world we aspire to be in. I sought to compose a musical assessment as a means to challenge a perception of what assessment of the performing arts can and should be. Musical theatre is a combination of dramatic recitation with speaking, dancing, and singing. Because music was previously discussed I will mainly focus on theatrical aspects herein. I turned to the theatre for ideas on how to incorporate sound, visuals, pacing of dialogue, character intents, and plot to create a vivid world for an audience to enter. As my script developed, my thoughts kept on returning to a quote by Beare and Belliveau (2008), “The purpose of art is to question ourselves, to question how the world operates, to question how to make the world a better place. This questioning, this dialoguing between people, within ourselves, is not limited to a theatrical creative process, of course, but this is my tool of choice” (p. 141). As I engaged with the guidepost of artistry, I reflected on how my use of musical theatre was more than a tool of choice. It was a necessary change to enliven my assessment of performing arts experiences, as my current practices were ineffective. Through the guidepost of artistry, I turned to theatre-based research for support to compose my script (Belliveau & Lea, 2016). That enabled me to reflect on an ethical obligation to stay true to the essence of what was said or observed during the learning experience (Beare & 124 Belliveau, 2008). My assessment piece necessitated a balancing of fact, fiction, and faction (Gouzouasis, 2008). Bearing that in mind, I sought to use dialogue as a means to dramatize the students’ experience in an honest and truthful manner. Conversely, Mienczakowski (2001) suggests that it is the verbatim nature of a presentation that lends meaningful authority, import, and significance to the resulting realizations (p. 468). While the use of verbatim may lend veracity to the assessment piece, it restricts the aesthetic potential of the assessment. In composing a theatrical assessment, one needs to be able to navigate the space between aesthetics and reality. It is inevitable and essential for us to manipulate digital media, notes, and artefacts as we shape our assessments, because in the end we are playwriting, and turning documentation into an art (Saldaña, 2005). Moreover, like arts based research that seeks more questions and provokes us: “It is not the place of the theatre to show the correct path, but only to offer the means by which all possible paths may be examined” (Boal, 2000, p. 141). Although a theatrical assessment has the potential to layer the understanding and experience involved in learning (Prendergast & Belliveau, 2012), it is necessary to be cognizant of how others may perceive and interpret it. Theatre is meant “to entertain ideas and to entertain for pleasure” (Saldaña, 2003, p. 219), but that does not imply that all performances are created for the same purpose. Through the guidepost of augmentation, I reflected on and took into consideration various aspects of audience engagement, and how an audience tends to allow it to partake in the imagined world on stage. My intent was not necessarily to entertain, but to inform and share aspects of the learning that was occurring as the Grade 6 students prepared for their musical. With that in mind, I reflected on how an audience of theatre-based research tends not to look for fully realized artistry, but for things such as transparency of analysis or ethical representation of research participants. In that regard, I also turned to the guidepost of artistry to 125 balance the aesthetic experience of the production and that of the assessment. If my assessment piece focused too much on entertaining, the students’ engagement with it would be relative to engaging with a piece of art, and not that of an arts based assessment. Yes, during the sharing of it they were having fun, but that was also the intent of this particular assessment—to encourage them to be more energetic as performers. The students’ enthusiasm to be part of the production could not have occurred had I selected a framework that they were unfamiliar with, or composed a script that was complex and overly detailed. It had to be geared toward their musical skillset and cognitive capacitates. Also, the script was not composed from the perspective of the teacher. I wove dialogue of my experience with the students, which enabled a new layer of participation by making explicit the subjective interpretations and extensions that others glean (White & Belliveau, 2011). The engagement of students in preparing for a concert is not a tangible, measurable act, and if I had given them a singing test to show their comprehension of the words, it would not have addressed the issues at hand. A test cannot illuminate the learning as it unfolds, or provide feedback and guidance in a living, meaningful, and performative way. Furthermore, our engagement during the sharing of the piece illuminates that the role of the playwright and of the actors is not that of merely entertaining, but also one of observing, interpreting, and reflecting human life (Beck, Belliveau, Lea, & Wager, 2011, p. 688). Thus, through living assessment, the theatrical assessment empowers the assessor to become a story (re)teller, who creatively and strategically composes a script-like assessment that performatively enlivens and (re)stories narratives of learning. Sharing a living assessment that is theatrical in nature allows the teacher to compose a bodily, three-dimensional representation of values and judgments. This representation enables 126 the teacher to retain aspects of the human dimensions of a lived experience by not losing sight of the students in the assessment process or transforming them into dehumanized stereotypes (Donmoyer & Donmoyer, 2008). It also facilitates an empathetic power that offers insights between the presentation of the assessment and the audience, whereby the performance becomes a shared context that the audience intimately constructs and relates to because of an emotional connection to the plot (Mienczakowski & Moore, 2008). The performing arts enabled me to break the fourth wall by composing an assessment piece that invited the students to actively participate in it. The students immediately recognized themselves and the context in the scripted assessment. The guidepost of augmentation inspired the students to be actively involved in the performance of the assessment, and not passive audience members. They engaged in theatricality, the capacity to observe ourselves in action, which in turn enabled them to imagine variations on their actions, and to study alternatives (Boal, 1995, p. 13). Furthermore, when we hold an image of what is objectively “the fact,” it has the effect of reifying what we experience, making our experience resistant to re-evaluation and change rather than open to imagination (Greene, 1995, p. 126). Augmentation also enabled the Grade 6 students to engage with reflexivity by holding up a mirror for them to observe what was hindering them inside from fulling partaking in the performance. Eisner (2001) speaks of qualities in the visual arts that can “communicate the way something feels, that is, its emotional character…it shows it and showing it makes empathy possible” (p. 136). Akin to that and in assistance with the guidepost of artistry, I engaged with the tools and practices of theatre to shed light on the emotional, aesthetic, evocative, expressive, and creative aspects of learning, which allowed me to bring the scripted assessment to sensuous life. Scriptwriting multi-vocal and dialogical texts imbued the assessment with a moving 127 emotional dimension that supports the students to engage with deep feelings and ways of knowing (Bagley, 2009). Also, my assessment was written as a critical reflection that illustrates vulnerability, personal feelings, and emotions as a form of information as well as concrete details and vivid descriptions of life and cultural phenomenon to examine and portray “feelings,” “motives,” and “contradictions [a researcher] experience[s]” (Ellis & Bochner, 2000, p. 738). I was able to highlight the complexity surrounding the students’ lack of engagement in performing, and Michael’s behavioural and social development. Augmentation enabled me to foster new layers of participation with the assessment by making explicit the subjective interpretations and extensions that others may glean from (White & Belliveau, 2011, p. 228). In the script, Michael is perceived as a student who is strongly influenced by his friends, but he deviates away from social pressure and performs to his best potential. Although my character provides assurance and support of his courage to perform, the support that comes from his classmates during the reading of the script is even more valuable, as it in turn leads to them performing their concert piece with the same energy as we experienced in, and through, the assessment. This means of assessment can also prove to be cathartic, in that it is able to bring light to the social and emotional concerns related to performing. As the students engaged in performing the assessment, they not only reflected on the social and emotional attributes imbedded within it, but also engaged on a reflexive level. Scriptwriting an emotionally evocative text allows such a therapeutic–cathartic curing or cleansing to take place, through which therapeutic shifts or transformations may occur (Poulos, 2013). The students’ transformation to be more open to the idea of showing enjoyment and enthusiasm as they perform illustrates that feature. During the preparations and rehearsals of the musical, I sought to bring life to how I assess performing arts 128 experiences through related artistic tools and practices. I found that this practice enlivened the assessment experience by engaging the entire learning community in performing the assessment. It also encouraged “openings” (Springgay, Irwin, Leggo, & Gouzouasis, 2008) between the lines in the scripted musical, to not only allow for the possibility of new conversations and relationships to develop, but also for elusive qualities of feelings and experiences to emerge and be addressed tangibly. 5.6 An epilogue on the ramifications of performing-arts assessments In the current chapter, I turned to the performing arts because I felt there was a void in conventional assessment practices that illuminate the grandeur of learning involved in preparing for a performance. I did not turn to the frameworks of tests, rubrics, or evaluations, but rather created a structure from the media that paralleled what was being learned in class. Doing so, enabled me to show the students that there is value in themselves and their learning, and demonstrates that what they say and do is important, listened to, acknowledged, and appreciated. This way of assessing necessitates the entire learning community to alter their perception of what assessment is and can be. For me, it was essential to take the term assidere to heart, to foster a supportive environment for my students to take risks with their learning. I feel that if my program were more teacher-directed, the outcome of our engagement with the song and musical script would have been greatly different. Students tend not to actively participate in school unless they are given a real opportunity to take control of their own growth, which was portrayed by the Grade 6 class and how the script provoked them to be courageous and take a risk in performance. This assessment practice has the potential to awaken, to disclose the ordinarily unseen, unheard, and unexpected, and provide opportunities for students to take control of their actions and learning. Through this mindset, students do not solely ascertain the acquisition of knowledge, but 129 are invited to participate and develop an appreciation of democracy as a way of living—as a way of assessing. At the heart of the performing arts is the verb to perform. The etymology of the word has roots in the 14th century Anglo-French word performer, which was influenced by Old French parfornir, which means to do, carry out, finish, accomplish, to provide (Wedgwood, 1872, p. 470). Thus, when students engage in performing an assessment piece, they not only read the text, but also embody the words in order to bring life to the assessment. The living nature of the performing arts provided opportunity for my students to see, hear, and feel the assessment, and by interpreting that sensory experience, they were able to make meaning from it to better prepare for the concert. Greene (1995) posits, “when students choose to view themselves in the midst of things and have the imagination to envision new things emerging, more and more beginnings seem possible” (p. 22). This was clearly evident in the song assessment, as the children not only reflected on the assessment and applied it to the piece at hand, but also drew from that criticism to refine their other songs. However, Eisner (2002) reminds us that as educators, we walk a narrow line between constructive criticism on what is a personal form of expression and, at the same time, conveying what we believe needs the student’s attention (p. 54). In struggling to provide feedback to prepare the Grade 6 students for their concert, I had to be mindful of the medium and tools used to compose the scripted assessment to provide the optimal timbre and tempo to guide artistic growth and learning. Through the guidepost of documentation, I gathered and ‘(re)presented’ our experiences in a multi-dimensional assessment by drawing on the tools and practices of the performing arts (Bagley, 2009). Using the performing arts as a framework not only enabled me to illuminate the learning that was unfolding, but also provided an invitation for the students to enter a world that 130 is recognizable enough to be credible, and ambiguous enough to allow new insights and meanings to emerge. Thus, illustrating the importance of language, as the use of accessible language within an artistic assessment can promote empathy and vicarious participation, and can provide the possibility for positive change (Butler-Kisber, 2002). I also sought to achieve legibility by weaving in elements of augmentation to make my assessments open, accessible, usable, and therefore readable and performable by the students. These pieces were composed from a personal view, with the intent of supporting the students to prepare for the concert. However, in attempting to communicate that clearly through the performing arts, I realized that these pieces will always involve interpretations and at times misinterpretations. To support that process, I turn to Rinaldi (2006) who believes that a sense of incompleteness and expectation can arise when you try to offer others not what you know, but the boundaries of your knowledge (p. 54). Although the song reveals the limits of my capabilities with movement and music, it also acted as a provocation for the students to take ownership of and improve the other pieces in the production. Furthermore, the use of verisimilitude supports this practice of assessment, as performing arts assessments are not ‘true’ precise transcriptions. The intent was not for them to be reproductions, but rather insightful pieces that evoke aspects of learning that can be felt and imagined. Through the guidepost of augmentation, I was able to provide an interpretation for my students to see and feel some dimension of life that they may never have suspected before, which is akin to how composers like George Crumb, John Cage, and Phillip Glass urge us, disturb us, and move us to experience the world differently through music. Students become aware of themselves as questioners, meaning makers, and learners while engaging in the construction and reconstruction of realities with those around them (Greene, 131 1995, p. 130). Thus, as teachers, it is important for us to draw upon pedagogies and practices that scaffold such concepts, and communicate to students a notion that reality is made of multiple perspectives, never complete, and that there is always more. I turned to the guidepost of artistry to support how the students and I interpreted, negotiated, and reconstructed our understandings. A back and forth reciprocal negotiation exists between learner and teacher, through which “the student always mediates, and hence modifies, what will be received or, better yet, construed from learning experiences” (Eisner, 2002, p. 47). As students partake in a co-construction of knowledge, they also partake in a negotiation of identity. The fourth stage of Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development (1977) posits that the most significant relationship for school age children involves their school and neighbourhood—where teachers and classmates play an important role and parents are no longer viewed as complete authorities. This stage was evident in the Grade 4/5 and Grade 6 classes, as the dance moves were adapted from a popular videogame that was played amongst peers, and the variable of peer pressure was extremely apparent (in the Grade 6 class). In this stage, Erickson believes that children begin to demonstrate specific competencies that are valued by society and begin to develop a sense of pride in their accomplishments (pp. 232-234), and a sense of identity amongst peers emerged as the Grade 4/5 students negotiated the dance moves. Their participation elucidates that in seeking to collectively make meaning students are able to cultivate a supportive network within their learning community—one that empowers the development of the individual voice amongst others. To be yourself is to be in process of creating a self, an identity. If it were not 132 a process, there would be no surprise. The surprise comes along with being different—consciously different as one finds ways of acting on envisaged possibilities. (Greene, 1995, p. 20) Participating in a learning community that fosters the individual voice amongst peers can encourage children to reflect on different perspectives—a reflection that involves embracing differences with a sensitivity to that what binds us together. Living assessment supports listening to become a way of welcoming others and their differences—a way of opening up to different theories and perspectives. The guidepost of augmentation also enabled reciprocal listening as the students reflected on my artful interpretation of the learning experience. In doing so, I was able to offer the possibility of becoming part of my theories, developments, and thoughts. Greene posits, “When we see and hear more, we take risks into the unknown. We embark on new avenues for choosing and action where we may gain a sudden sense of new beginnings, and can take an initiative in the light of possibility” (1995, p. 123). The Grade 6 class was able to listen and see the learning experience from a different perspective through the scripted musical, which in turn empowered them to alter their perception of what it means to perform as an ensemble. In the current chapter, I sought to expand beyond my current assessment practices through the performing arts, and discovered I could elicit the animate, vivacious, and living aspects of performative experiences. In (re)storying lived experiences, I took a risk to move beyond the conventional boundaries in (re)presenting the learning that unfolds as students prepare for a music production. I have alluded to some of the ways in which living assessment can benefit from music and theatre, but there are other attributes, forms, and styles within each that can scaffold a practice of living assessment. Also, other performing arts, like dance, were not explored, but can be developed to assess in a similar manner through living assessment. 133 Furthermore, this chapter depicts the vastness of learning that emerges when a school community prepares for a musical production, like performing as an ensemble, acting techniques, overcoming stage fright, blocking, and projecting one’s voice. I have shown that a framework of the performing arts can shed light on important developments that bring such a production to life, like creativity, listening, reciprocity, negotiation, empathy, and personal growth. These assessments bring light to the collective democratic workings of the entire school community to take ownership of the production and make it a meaningful and memorable experience. 134 Chapter Six: Autoethnographic learning stories and eBook assessments 6.1 Prologue to story In the current chapter, my journey with living assessment progresses as I explore and examine the potentials of story. Stories provide meaning and belonging in our lives. They connect us with our own histories and those of others by offering a tapestry woven with threads of time, place, character, and morality. As a means of assessment, story enables me to participate in observational subjectivity, through which I can artfully weave my valuing of students’ understandings and meaning making. Thus, as I aspire to further my inquiry of living assessment, I draw upon its guideposts to scaffold my engagement with two storied assessment practices—the learning story and eBook assessment—as a means of bringing to life the different ways that children and I engage in exploratory, creative, aesthetic learning experiences. Over the course of four months, I composed 551 autoethnographic learning stories for 76 students—15 kindergarten, 21 Grade 1, 27 Grade 4/5, and 13 Grade 6. The amount of learning stories written for each student varies from 3 to 10. Each child’s story delineates a particular passage of meaning making and understanding. Sharing all of those would provide a rich tapestry of learning, but as that is not tangible, a select few were culled from each grade. The first four learning stories provide an assessment of kindergarten students as they explore the timbre of wood. Their inquiry begins in the music atelier, but quickly expands outside into a forested area. The next five stories shed light on how students in a Grade 1 class layer their understandings of Boston Creek’s ecosystem through music and movement. A set of four stories follows that depict how students in a Grade 4/5 class compose, perform, and record pieces of music using iPads and recorders. The final four stories tell the tale of Grade 6 students who co-compose film scores. 135 The second half of this chapter consists of an autoethnographic narrative that illuminates how the children, Ms. Liu, and I actively engage with living assessment to bring life to the processes involved in creating and sharing eBook assessments. As we explore this medium of expression, we draw from the learning stories, living assessment wall, digital blog posts, and other documentation to create summative assessment pieces in the form of eBooks. While doing so, Ms. Liu and I find that we empower the students to engross themselves in co-, peer-, and self-assessment, which expands the assessment beyond the perspective of the teacher and into the hands of the children. We quickly come to realize the abilities and potentials of young learners as they engage with the eBook assessment to illustrate their meaning making, and the prospect of empowering young learners to engage with a reflexive assessment process. 6.2 Beyond text blocks With my mind set on composing learning stories, I begin to gather documentation: handwritten notes, audio recordings, photographs, and video clips. As the documentation accumulates, I delay my writing process and take time to reflect on how I want my learning stories to look. I peruse through resources and search the Internet for examples, but I am disappointed by what I discover. Most templates consist of fillable text blocks: One box to describe what the child is doing, a second box for interpretation, and a third for feedback and future goals. Text blocks reduce an assessment to “thick descriptions” (Geertz, 1973, p. 6) that attempt to summarize context, details, emotions, and relationships (Carr & Lee, 2012, pp. 12, 14, 17, 22, 27, 28). They attempt to objectify that which is highly subjective, human experiences. They also reduce human experiences and interactions to inanimate, static descriptions. They allude to positivist measurement practices and post-positivist encapsulations of ‘data’ that restrict 136 the assessment to a precise framework, which in turn hinders a learning and teaching experience from ever becoming a story. Thus, I turn to the guidepost of artistry and reflect on how I want my learning stories to emerge through artistic tools and creative practices, utilizing principal elements of story—characters, theme, plot, and setting. Thus, I avoid the traditional examples and begin with a blank page—a blank canvas—to depict the aesthetic and creative meaning making that materializes with my students. Over the course of a weekend, I engaged with a palette of story elements to compose pedagogical tales that shed light on the decision making, understandings, and valuing of the students in their inquiries. As my stories come to fruition, I read a few from the kindergarten class and reflect on how I draw upon my expertise as a music educator to critically disclose and judge with a refined sensibility. I return those to their respective pile, and pick up a few more from the Grade 4/5 class. I skim through some and ponder how this practice of assessment reflects observation, discovery, conversation, and interaction. A feeling of contentment resides over me, and I am eager to share them tomorrow with my students. I pack up the stacks of paper, and place them in a folder to bring to school. 6.3 Kindergarten learning story 1 A Musical Exploration of Wood From a conversation with Ms. Clark, I came to understand that her students have been exploring the trees in a forest near the school. That excited me, as exploring the sounds of nature is one of my favourite ways to develop a child’s curiosity, creativity, and expressiveness. To build upon what they are learning, today’s musical exploration focuses on wood. “Today we are going to explore wood.” I state. 137 “Wood?!” The children exclaim with confused looks on their faces. “Yes, we are going to explore the stumps. You can use your hands, mallets, or any other materials to help you discover like a musician-scientist.” After a few minutes of exploring, I join Derek and Jason. Derek turns his log over and points to a row of holes, “There’s a bunch of holes.” Jason adds, “The small mallets make a nice sound. The big mallets don’t make a nice sound. See.” He taps both to illustrate his point. Derek is excited to explore the rolling sounds of the stump and rolls it across the carpet. “It sounds like thunder,” Jason states. “Earthquake,” Derek adds. “What part is louder, and which is softer?” Jason taps his mallet on the cut-out circle part of stump and illustrates that one section of it sounds loud and hard and the other sounds quieter and is softer to hit. Figure 6.1: Jason exploring the different timbres of the stump. Figure 6.2: Derek rolls the stump across the floor to determine its sound. 138 At the end of Jason and Derek’s first exploration with wood, I notice that they explore as inquisitive researchers and with a playful mindset. Both children use various tools to explore different ways of producing sounds. They also engage their ears to listen and focus in on similarities and differences between those sounds that are produced. 6.4 Kindergarten learning story 2 Continuing our provocation of wood—The xylophone Earlier this week the students explored wooden stumps. Today we further our exploration of wood by exploring the sound of the xylophones. As they explore, I make my way around the room to see what discoveries arise and join Daniel and Hiroshi. “What have you discovered so far?” Hiroshi taps his mallet on the low C bar, “this one is the highest.” “It’s the biggest,” I correct. Daniel adds, “The A one is the smallest.” “Have you looked on the bottom side of the bars?” Hiroshi lifts one out to demonstrate and rubs a finger on the surface, “This one is round.” “What is on the inside of the box Daniel?” He peeks inside, “There’s wood.” I am pleased with the comparisons and investigative mindset Daniel and Hiroshi apply to their exploration today. They are developing their listening abilities to explore, compare, and understand the sounds of each xylophone bar based on size and pitch. I am also pleased with their curiosity and observations. For instance, they notice and wonder about the underside of the bars and the inside of the box that houses the xylophone bars. 139 6.5 Kindergarten learning story 3 Continuing our journey with wood—String instrument At the beginning of class, the students reflect on their musical discoveries with the xylophone and then begin to compare the guitars and ukuleles. Midway through their explorations we have a group discussion. “Which instrument has more strings?” Tiago and Max reply, “The guitar.” “How many strings are on the guitar?” All of the students crouch down to examine the instrument and begin to count the strings one by one. Hiroshi and Derek shout from the back of the room, “Six!” “And how many are on the ukulele?” “Four,” answers Wyatt and Camila together. “Count all of the metal bars going down the instrument. How many are there?” All of the students focus on counting the metal frets one by one down the fingerboards using their fingers to tap each fret as they count aloud. Figure 6.4: Hiroshi discovering the rounded surface of the xylophone bar. Figure 6.3: Daniel exploring inside the xylophone box. 140 David finishes first and shouts, “19.” Wyatt shouts out, “21.” Camila counts the ukulele, “There are 12 on here.” “Mine has 18,” answers Max. I add, “Some of the instruments have more metal bars than others. Some of you counted 18, some of you counted 19, and some 21. We call those metal bars frets.” “Is the instrument one solid piece of wood like the stumps?” “No, it’s empty like the xylophone,” Luke states as he knocks on the body of his guitar. The students return to their explorations and I walk over to Wyatt and Camila. They have a guitar propped against a wooden stump and appear to be racing two marbles down the strings. “One, two, three.” counts Camila. They release their marbles from the top of the propped guitar and let them roll down the strings. As the marbles race down the strings, they speed up and hit the white saddle on the Figure 6.6: Wyatt and Camila making a marble run using the guitar. Figure 6.5: Counting the frets on the guitar and ukulele. 141 bridge, causing them to pop off of the instrument and bounce into the air. They fly high, land on the carpet, and roll toward the piano. “I win,” exclaims Wyatt. “What are you doing over here?” Camila explains, “Making a road for our marbles.” “What about the sounds of your marble run. Have you thought about how your marbles and the guitar make sounds together?” “Well, when it goes like this, it makes a bzzzzzz sound,” Wyatt illustrates with his hand where the marble going down the strings. “Then it clinks when it hits this thing,” He continues and points to the long white bridge at the bottom of the strings. “What about for when the marble lands on the carpet and rolls? What can you add that is musical to that?” They walk over to the wall of instruments in search of other items to add to their musical racecourse. 6.6 Kindergarten learning story 4 Sticky Sap As we arrive at the forest, Camila, Ava, and Jason set off to create a song about the sap. They need a bit of guidance and I help them with their music. “Does sap move slow or fast?” “Slow,” they respond. “So should your song be slow or fast?” “Slow,” they reply in unison. “What direction does sap move? Up, down, or sideways?” 142 “Down,” Jason says confidently. “So maybe your music can show how sap travels down the tree.” “Yeah, it can have a slow stretch to it,” Jason adds. The three students begin to make shaking instruments with containers. As they fill their containers I inquire, “Is your sap music going to be loud or soft?” “Soft because sap is quiet,” Ava replies. Jason begins to fill a tube with needles from the pine tree. Every time he adds a handful of needles, he gently swirls the tube to test the sound of his instrument. He is using his listening and researcher skills. Jason is pleased with his tube and puts on the lid. He shakes it but the lid has dampened the sound. We test it a few times with the lid both on, and off. “Why do you think it’s louder with the lid off?” “Because the sound can escape,” Jason replies. “What instrument in the music room has a large hole in it that lets the sound escape?” “The guitar,” Camila confidently states. After exploring the tubes, they begin to explore the sounds on the tree. Ava begins to play her rhythm on the tree. She starts up high and slowly plays it going from up high to down low on the tree trunk. Jason joins her and explores playing slow and elongated “du-u-u-u” notes down the trunk. “It’s sliding,” he states. I leave them to figure out a performance order and to figure out how to put their explorations together in a song about sap. 143 **** I return to the group and they perform their composition for me. Ava begins the piece with tapping a du note followed by longer ‘du-u’ sliding down the bark notes. Camila plays after with a solid rhythm pattern mixed with ‘du’ and ‘du-day’ durations. Jason enters after her with a soft ‘du-day du’ pattern. When Jason finishes his tapping, the three of them play their shaking instruments together. They gently fade to silence at the end. After their performance I reflect on their playing. “Jason why is your tapping so soft and quiet?” “Because sap is quiet.” “Camila, why are you tapping two lids together?” “That’s the hard sound of the hard sap.” Figure 6.7: Jason playing his shaking instrument. Figure 6.8: Camila taping her 8th note pattern. Figure 6.9: Ava playing her half note pattern. 144 “One last question. Why do you slow down at the end of your song?” Ava answers, “Because the sap slows down and dries.” Camila adds, “But it’s still a little sticky.” 6.7 Grade 1 learning story 1 Planting a seed at Boston Creek to weave, flow, and grow Today, we brainstorm the parts of the creek that speak to us, and how those elements can be reflected through music and movement. After our discussion the students break off into small groups to begin playing, expressing, creating, and dancing. I notice Layla, Isaac, and Stella working near the front of the classroom and walk over to check on their progress. “What are you creating with movement and the fabric over here?” Layla replies, “The orange and yellow fabric is for Slugly’s slime.” Stella adds, “The slime leads to the grass. I’m Slugly and she is Tickley.” “What about you Isaac, what are you doing?” “Layla and I are trees. Ellie is going to be a tree as well. We’re dropping our leaves on the ground.” I prod a bit more, “What movements have you added to your project?” Isaac replies, “We did the slow movement and the fast. We also did sliding.” 145 6.8 Grade 1 learning story 2 The rhythm of the creek Today, the students are working on composing the music for their music and movement project. They are notating pieces to illustrate important parts of the creek in their projects. After a few minutes of composing, I walk over to Stella, Layla, and Isaac who are seated around a xylophone. “Stella what notes did you draw on your paper?” “Du-u du-u du-u,” she chants. I am playing it on the xylophone.” “Wow, that’s so many ‘du-u’ notes. It fills the whole page. What’s the picture that you drew under your music?” “It’s a picture of a slug in soil,” she smiles. Isaac is sitting on the carpet next to Stella. His music is written neatly with a black marker in a rectangular box. It’s decorated with images, just like Stella has done. “Isaac, what is your music for?” He thinks for a moment and then answers, “Its leaf music.” Figure 6.10: Stella rolling out the slime for Slugly. 146 “How do you play your ‘du-u-u-u’ note?” He taps one of the two, tone bars he has selected for his instrument and lets it ring aloud. “So, you’re just letting it ring ‘du-u-u-u’? “Yeah, it keeps on playing. I can still hear the sound.” 6.9 Grade 1 learning story 3 Changing seasons After exploring the various instruments and seasons over the past few sessions, the students in this group have a diverse pallet of sounds to use for their composition. As the group settles in with their instruments, Ms. Jones (an education assistant) has replaced Ellie’s finger cymbals with wooden clave because they are easier for her to grip and play. Stella has also suggested that these can be used for walking in the snow during the winter music. “Let's begin the winter scene. Who plays in this scene?” “We all do now,” Isaac answers. The children begin to play their music. Ellie taps her sticks on the ground to evoke footsteps in the snow, while Stella gently rubs her hand over a piece of paper to create a soft wintery sound. As the sound of winter comes to life Isaac tips his shaker slowly causing a gentle Figure 6.11: Stella playing her half note music for Slugly on the xylophone. Figure 6.12: Isaac’s leaf music. 147 snowflake sound to appear and a friend rubs a cabasa slowly over the palm of her hand to add to Isaac’s snowy music. I leave the group with a final thought. “For the remainder of the class I would like you to practice your song from beginning to end with clean transitions between the seasons. There shouldn’t be long pauses between each season. Practice it over and over again so you not only know how your part goes, but everyone else’s part because this is a group composition and it’s important to be connected to everyone’s part when making music.” 6.10 Grade 1 learning story 4 Recording session Today, we record our song about Boston Creek. We set up a mini recording studio in Ms. Liu’s classroom and the students bring all that they need to perform their music. “The microphone is very sensitive, so you may have to move around depending on how loud your instrument is. Louder instruments like Isaac’s shaking tube will probably need to be Figure 6.13: Stella playing her many instruments. Figure 6:14: Isaac playing his snowflake music. Figure 6:15: Ellie playing her snowflake music. 148 further away from the mic. The quiet ones, like Stella’s paper crumpling, will need to be very close.” We do a practice recording. After take one, the group listens to their song and adjusts where they are positioned around the microphone. Stella has to move up closer for the mic to capture her paper sounds. “I think we’re ready to try again,” Layla states. I start the recording on the laptop. As they perform their music as an ensemble, I think about how the five of them were able to develop their negotiating skills during the composition and practicing of their song, but also now during the recording session. Doing all of those things in a group of four is not an easy task, as it takes a lot of effort to listen to the ideas of others and be open to their perspectives. I notice that they give each other feedback and that some students take on a leadership role. For instance, helping determine who needs to play at various dynamic levels, and helping others know when to enter the performance. As they continue to perform their music, I take note of how this piece has become easy for them to perform and how they do so with a sense of professionalism and pride—none of their music is overpowering, and they all sound like a unified ensemble. Once the song is complete, the seven of us listen to a final Figure 6.16: Students recording their music. 149 recording of the piece. I notice smiles on their faces and the five of them seem quite pleased with their composition. 6.11 Grade 1 learning story 5 Movement and music inspired by our visits to the creek Ellie, Layla, Stella, and Isaac prepare to set up a stage for their movement performance. Stella drapes orange fabric on the ground to make a path for the worm. Layla collects a pile of green scarves for the trees, and Isaac searches for the few blue scarves to make himself a blue bird. As they get ready to practice the trees bunch themselves together around the orange path and Stella gets ready on the ground to slither across the orange path as a worm. “Action!” I shout as I press record function to capture a video of their performance. The rest of the class watches in silence as they perform. After they are done a few students give feedback of things they liked and things that could use some work. “I like the swaying of the trees, but they are too tight,” One student responds. I spread the group out around the orange fabric. “I can’t tell that Stella is a worm,” another student comments. Stella wraps herself in a sand colour piece of fabric and we do another recording. After this recording the group watches the video and notices that the trees are better spaced out. However, the fabric has fallen off of Stella and Isaac is walking directly beside her. “Birds don’t fly like that; they need to glide around. You should be looking down to eat the worm make it look like your searching,” Ms. Jones adds. Stella has a scared look on her face with wide eyes, as if Isaac is going to actually eat her. “He’s not actually going to eat you. It’s pretend,” I comment. 150 The group does a final take and we watch the film together. This time they are happy with their movements. “It looks more like a bird, I like my flapping,” Isaac replies. As they clean up their set, I reflect on the movement part of this project and how it has developed over the course of a few months. I think about how everything centred on the worm, but slowly evolved through subtle movements that were explored in many movement and music activities and trips to Boston Creek—like the leaves dropping, how trees gently sway from side to side, the exploration of sounds and movements, the transformation of the students into worms, birds, and other creatures. 6.12 Grade 4/5 learning story 1 Attempting to fit music into square boxes The students continue working on their recorder compositions. Most groups have finished their compositions and are working on developing a background beat to accompany their performances. However, many students are noticing that the beats from the iPad program do not lend themselves to straightforward accompaniment found in classical music. The grooves tend to be more upbeat. Figure 6.17: Stella crawling like a slug. Figure 6.18: Ellie swaying like a tree with the support of her education assistant. Figure 6.19: Isaac hovering above Stella the slug. 151 I observe that Mason and Henry are playing their melody and bopping to their beat. I walk in their direction from across the classroom. “What’s going on over here?” “We’re trying to match our playing to the beat,” Mason states. They play their music, and right away I observe that they have altered the rhythm of their recorder melody so that it appears to synch with the background music. I notice Mason playing his motifs to mimic the rhythm of the background riff that repeats over and over. “Can you tell me which boxes you picked, and why?” Henry answers, “Well the two purple boxes represent music that sounds like recorder. We want that to compliment what we do on the recorder.” “And what about the green boxes?” Mason replies, “Those are the background beats.” “How does it fit so far?” Mason replies, “We are trying to make it work because we really like the beat we came up with on the iPad.” Figure 6.20: Henry and Mason playing their composition. Figure 6.21: Henry and Mason explaining their background. accompaniment. 152 Henry cuts in, “Some of it is hard but we are changing our music, so it fits better. You know that part on the purple boxes that goes ‘du-da-du-daaa, du-da-du-daaa’,” he sings then continues, “well, we’re trying to sound like the beats, so it fits nicely.” I observe them working for a few more minutes and it sounds like there is progress, so I leave the two boys and head across the room to check in on other classmates. 6.13 Grade 4/5 learning story 2 Setting the music composition to match the beats Today, the group of boys continue to arrange their music so that it synchronizes with the iPad background track. They are huddled over their composition paper with recorders in hand. All three of them are plugged into the iPad with headphones, and appear to be listening attentively and focused. I walk over to find out how the modifications are going. Mason states, “We changed it. We had to slow it down.” “Now it’s F#-A-C-A. It just fits better now with the beat,” Henry cuts in. I look down at their paper and notice new notes written on top of erased ones. “Does it sound better than all of those other notes you had written?” They both nod in affirmation and Henry answers, “Yeah, much better and easier to play.” I pick up the paper with their invented notation and take note of Darren’s music being much busier than theirs. I ask, “What about Darren’s part, what are you playing now?” He responds, “I am just playing a long F# on the big recorder.” “Can you reach the F# fingerings on your recorder?” I wonder. “No. My fingers don’t stretch that far, Mr. Yanko.” “Well. Just play an ‘A’ pitch then. It should still sound good.” 153 I observe them practicing for a few more minutes as the music starts to sync in. Darren is supporting the main melody by playing long ‘A’ pitches using two fingers on the tenor recorder, while Henry and Mason play the new melody. It seems to be working much better than the other day. 6.14 Grade 4/5 learning story 3 Recording our composition Today, we are recording our compositions. Henry, Darren, and Mason set up what they need in our outdoor mini recording studio and put on headphones. They begin to practice their song a few times before we do a sample of their piece. “I think we’re ready,” Darren states as he holds the large tenor recorder. We do a few practice takes of their song, and after a few recordings they’re finally pleased with their timing, transitions between takes, and the balance between the background volume of the accompaniment track and their playing. Figure 6.22: The changes made to the boys’ composition. 154 “Are you ready for a final recording?” “Yeah,” the trio states in unison with head nods. I start the recording on the laptop. As the group plays, they bop their heads to the beat and sync their melody to the music. I reflect on their learning during the recording process and ponder over how far they have come with this project, and how the three boys have been able to take a simple melody and alter it to fit with an upbeat background track they have created. As they perform their melody and bop their heads in unison, I think about how the three of them were able to easily work together not only during the composition and practicing of their song, but also now during the recording of their song. They give each other feedback even now during the recording process as to who needs to play louder or when to come in. They continue to toot their notes on the recorder to the background track, and while doing so I observe that they play the melody together with ease. None of them overpowers the soundtrack, and they all sound like a unified ensemble—a recorder trio. Once the song performance is complete, the four of us listen to the final recording. I notice smiles on their faces as the three of them seem quite pleased with their composition. Figure 6.23: The boys recording their composition. 155 6.15 Grade 6 learning story 1 Developing our film music Today the students continue to work on their film scoring projects. As they write and practice their music, I hear a ruckus of piano and guitar sounds from behind the wall that divides the guitar racks from the rest of the classroom. I make my way over to the sound. “How is the project coming along today?” “Good, today we created parts for everyone. Can we show you how it goes?” Allan states. They get their instruments ready and focus on the iPad screen. Ms. Williams (an education assistant) presses the play button and the film starts. Levi begins to strum a progression of A minor and G major chords on the ukulele, while Mike vigorously plays the cabasa and Allan taps on a woodblock. Their music is not syncing together during this scene. As the film transitions to the pig dancing in the grocery store, Tom begins to play a jazzy piano melody while the other three speed up their playing to match his tempo. They play in that manner until the end of the film. I reflect on their music. “What I am noticing is a lot of sound effects and not enough of your own musical ideas. The main point of this project is to develop your music composition skills. I suggest you reflect on what we did over the past few weeks with the guitar and xylophone, in that guitar chords can support a simple melody on the xylophone.” “So, I need to write my own piano part?” Tom inquires. “Yes, or you can even play the same chords on the piano that Levi is doing and someone else can do the melody on xylophone or recorder,” I reply. Levi asks, “What about my ukulele part?” 156 “Well so far you are doing A minor and G major,” I reply, “but you’re doing simple down strumming on the beat. I suggest exploring different rhythm patterns to create a bit more of a strumming pattern. It can start off quiet and slow at the beginning and then speed up when the pig starts to dance. What you do with the piece will pave the way for the rest of the film because the rest of it will build off of your music at the beginning and make it more upbeat and fast like a dance.” “So, if Levi does that, I can come in with guitar on the dance part because it is louder, but try to do the same chords as him or we can do something different together?” Mike inquires. “Yes, work with Levi on the guitar and ukulele part. Figure out if the chords sound good or if they need to change, come up with a strumming pattern and also figure out how to make it more exciting when she starts to dance.” “What about the sound effects?” Allan asks. I reflect on his playing and where he can go next. Figure 6.24: Levi strumming chords on ukulele while watching the film. 157 “You can continue to do the sound effects and work on them. Your group needs someone to do those effects. I just don’t want everyone in the group doing the sound effects. If this is going to be your focus in the film, I want your effects to have a purpose. You aren’t just playing the egg shakers because the pig is shaking salt and peppershakers. You need to think about the dynamics, the rhythm patterns that you play, and if the instruments you are using are the best to bring those effects to life.” The group gets back to work. Allan has taken off to find more sounds to explore. The other three work on creating a melody together. They continue to explore chords to create a foundation for their film score. Levi and Mike explore strumming patterns on the string instruments, while Tom observes them and plunks away at the same chords on the piano. 6.16 Grade 6 learning story 2 Chord changes lead to new beginnings The students have begun to further develop their creative composition abilities. Last class there were many revisions to be made to the project Allan, Levi, and Tom are working on. After they work on those changes, Tom comes to get me to see and hear what they’ve done. “Can you remind me of your changes?” I ask. “I think it would be easier if we just showed you,” Levi states. The group sets up for the music and Tom presses play on the iPad to start the video. Levi begins to strum a modest 2-chord strumming pattern between C and G on the ukulele with Tom accompanying him on the piano. After they cycle through their part twice, Mike joins in with the same chords on the guitar. When the dance part starts in the film, Tom switches to an upbeat piano melody and the other two continue to strum on their string instruments. I reflect on their performance and give feedback. 158 “A few suggestions. The part where Tom plays the fast melody, the string part needs to change. What is the string part for at the beginning? What is the music accompanying?” “Well, she’s walking down the isle of the grocery store.” “Exactly, Mike. And she’s no longer walking, but dancing, so your music has to illustrate that. I would suggest working with what Tom is playing and focus on that. Either play a strumming pattern and chords that go with his fast part, or play in between Tom’s pauses and breaks in music.” We run through the music together and I show them a few different ideas of how it could sound before leaving them to continue their film score. 6.17 Grade 6 learning story 3 Miss Piggy shaking it Today Allan, Tom, Levi, Ms. Williams, and Mike are eagerly practicing their changes in the piano and string parts. They are keen to show me their modifications and how their film score is developing. Everyone sets up their instruments and focuses in on the iPad. Levi presses ‘play’ and the music starts. I immediately notice that a nice melody has developed between the piano Figure 6.25: Tom playing piano as the film unfolds. 159 and string instruments. Even Allan and Ms. Williams’s part seems more focused today, with purpose for their sound effects. “The beginning is really coming together well. But when you get to the fast dancing part, I would focus the effects on the clapping and other things that stand out, like her twirls and running. The guitar and ukulele part there also needs to be a bit cleaner and in sync with the open spaces that occur in Tom’s piano melody.” They work on those updates. As I observe them, I reflect on how their film score is coming along. I ponder how engaged the group is as they make subtle and drastic changes with their music. I think about the time when they had to restart everything and come up with new harmonies and melodies, and today, when Allan has to think about subtle changes in his shaker rhythms. They are not only demonstrating how they can negotiate their ideas and co-compose a piece together, but also how they use their listening abilities to fine tune the music and help each other out with their parts.89 89 This is an example of aesthetic decision making—see Yanko and Gouzouasis, 2020 for in depth discourse on this. Figure 6.26: Allan awaiting to play his maraca part for the film score. Figure 6.27: Mike and Levi strumming guitar and ukulele chords. 160 6.18 Grade 6 learning story 4 Recording day Today we transform the music classroom into a recording studio. Tom, Levi, Allan and Mike set up what they need for their piece and arrange their instruments around the piano. We place the microphone in front of the piano and do a practice take. After the take we listen to the recording and reflect on the music. I commence with constructive feedback. “Can you hear the piano in the opening section?” “No, I just hear my ukulele,” Levi replies. Tom turns up the volume on the keyboard and we do another take and reflect on the second recording. The group seems pleased with the balance between piano and ukulele, but notice some new issues. “The wood clicking is so loud,” Allan comments. “Yes, the ‘clave’ sticks will cut through all of the sounds because it’s one of the loudest instruments. Allan, you can either play it further away from the microphone, try playing it softer, or even cut it out of the music.” He ponders for a moment and decides to cut it out because if he has to move far away, he will miss his cues when to play because he won’t be able to see the video on the iPad. As we listen to the fast dance part, I make another noticing. “The guitar playing needs to be more musical and softer in this section. It sounds harsh.” Mike strums the guitar strums softly and the group is pleased with his soft, chordal accompaniment. During the final take, I notice that the group is extremely focused and engaged. Their eyes are glued on the iPad, they are reflecting on what they need to do, and they don’t even need 161 their music or cues anymore. This tells me that they know their own parts inside out, as well as each other’s music. They are actively listening for each other and are focusing on subtle elements—how loudly to play, blending together, subtle crescendo and decrescendo, and phrasing—they are not only listening and playing like an ensemble, but know their music well enough that they don’t need to focus merely on playing their notes, but on making their notes musical. Once they’re done, we layer the music onto the film, and they seem to be very happy with the film score they have composed. 6.19 Discourse on the autoethnographic learning story If the epistemology of ‘story as method’ is that story is a way in which we tell ourselves to ourselves, then a storied assessment elucidates much more than a learning experience transformed into words on a page. It comprises a complex texture that ruminates the complexity of assessing lived experiences and living stories—a means of living through, around, with, and in assessment. As a learning community, our storied lives are formed by the immersion of our everyday experiences in the classroom, and the learning story empowers us to shed light on those narratives. At the onset of composing stories of students lived experiences, teachers tend to set Figure 6.28: The group recording their film score. 162 up their narratives with background information, and proceed to compose their assessments from a palette of story elements—setting, character, conflict, and resolution. They use that palette to create pedagogical tales that can illustrate the significance of the experience to the child, the learning dispositions that show the child’s approach to figuring things out, their emergent ideas, the plan or goals as the learning unfolds, their voice, and engagement in the inquiry—with others and with learning materials (Carr, 2001). As the pages turn, the stories begin to come to life, and so do the children who evolve into characters that metaphorically embody the documentation. Thus, when a learning story is conceived and written, the more a teacher is able to conceptualize bringing the assessment to life, the more the teacher writes and refines the story, the more powerful it becomes. It becomes a reflexive experience (Gouzouasis, 2020) and the teacher becomes reflexive. In this assessment practice, I turn to the guidepost of augmentation to implement a reflexive lens to closely examine the empirical documentation—observation, artefacts, and dialogue—of learning experiences (Helm, Beneke, & Steinheimer, 2007). As I wrote the learning stories with the accumulated documentation and story elements, I was able to create snapshots of learning that are metaphorically similar to using a zoom macro lens on a DSLR camera that captures the moment and allows the learning to be frozen and focused further for closer examination. Hence, I became a narrative photographer who enabled the camera to suggest qualities of Eisner’s connoisseurship and criticism, as the sharper and more detailed the story about learning becomes, the clearer the children’s thinking is made visible (Wien, Guyevskey, & Berdouss, 2011). With respect to the above ideas, I ponder over how the act of observation necessitates interpretation, in that we need to leave traces of our observations (Prendergast, Lymburner, 163 Grauer, Irwin, Leggo, & Gouzouasis, 2008; Rinaldi, 2006). Thus, while composing the learning stories I had to rely on the guideposts of augmentation and documentation to unravel, transcribe, and interpret the vast amounts of accumulating documentation—video clips, notes, and pictures. I needed to bear in mind the context of the learning experience, the personalities of each student, and their words and actions. If that were not enough, these learning stories focused on music, and because of music’s abstract nature I had to engage with Eisner’s connoisseurship and criticism to try to understand and shed light on the meaning making and understanding behind their music making. A story is a simple and straightforward telling of events, whereas plot is a sequence of events that has been arranged in order to suggest in readers a keen sense of emotional engagement (Leggo, 2004a, p. 99). Traditional learning stories tend to comprise of minimal plot; in turn, they seem to depict flat descriptions that resemble ethnographic observations and data depictions. My disheartenment with that practice prompted me to engage with a blank canvas, free of prescriptive rigors. I desired to embrace this practice of assessment with the artistic freedom that living assessment evokes—a liberty to weave elements of artistry into the possibilities of a storied fabric of assessment. Such a liberty not only enables teachers to work with a flexible canvas, but with an artistic palette that empowers teachers to express through story the lived experiences of the children. Thus, story brings life to the assessment of thoughts, interpretation, imagination, and wonder as the reader engages in the text. And the livelier the story, the more vital and stirring our encounters with teaching and learning experiences will be. Winterson (1995, p. 76) posits, “A writer must resist the pressure of old formulae and work towards new combinations of language.” Thus, to make the learning story more illustrative of the actual experience and engage readers into the heart of the experience, I reframed it as 164 autoethnography (Gouzouasis & Yanko, 2018a, 2019; Yanko & Gouzouasis, 2020) to allow story-writing practices to guide the assessment. The assessment pieces were composed by the teacher, but from the learner’s perspective, from the ‘self’ or ‘auto’ (see Ellis, 2004; Gouzouasis & Yanko, 2018a), and contained my interpretation of the learning experience through a connoisseur-like, critical lens. Concern from some parents arose to my voice being dominant in the narratives, and not their child’s. However, these stories are written from the context of the teacher—the assessor—and if the teacher’s voice is omitted, the assessment is reduced to a mere summary and interpretation (Clandinin & Connelly, 1994). With that in mind, the guidepost of artistry enables the text and pictures to support a practice of connoisseurship and criticism (Eisner, 1991) written by the hand of the teacher. That element provides a stronger, artistic depiction of where growth is needed. If neglected, it would be challenging to provide reasoning and refined judgment of the students’ creative meaning makings and understandings, as assessment practices that measure learning hinder that possibility. Therefore, the teacher’s perspective should not be underestimated. Rather, it needs to be featured as it holds great value through the many years of teaching experience, in-depth understanding of pedagogy and curriculum, and of the social and cognitive capacities of young learners. The autoethnographic attribute of the learning story prompts parents and students to emerge themselves in the dialogue and read it as if they are the teacher or child in the narrative. That engagement illustrates that learning stories are dialogic in nature, as they possess truth-likeness, or verisimilitude (Eisner, 1998, pp. 53-58), which induces a feeling that the experience described is lifelike, believable, and possible, a feeling that what has been represented could be true (Ellis, 2004, p. 124; Gouzouasis, 2008). Furthermore, Banks and Banks (2000) discovered that when we engage in autoethnography, it becomes a pedagogical process because the story 165 becomes both “instructive and instructional: It teaches and can be used to teach” (p. 237). It becomes autodidactic (Gouzouasis, 2017, p. 235; Gouzouasis & Yanko, 2018a, p. 66). The learning in these stories becomes pedagogical when the teacher adds their assessment of the learning experience. If learners and parents can read themselves, or the possibilities of themselves, in the learning story, it can be considered more than merely a story about children’s experience in the classroom, but as a tale that is pedagogical in nature—a learning story. The final element of the learning story focuses on extending the learning. Some teachers encourage students to further pursue their interests, abilities, and understandings that have been demonstrated throughout the narrative in a separate paragraph at the end of the story. Although that final element is common in traditional formats, I sought support from the guidepost of augmentation to enable me to engage with the element of dialogue that exists in many autoethnographic texts. That practice allows for the extension of learning to be woven directly into the story’s fabric, whereby the teacher’s feedback is not a separate, boxed-off comment, but is co-constructed through discourse and reflection between child and teacher during the learning experience (Yanko & Gouzouasis, 2020). With that in mind, I have discovered that I have composed three different styles of learning stories. The first type is a brief narrative that depicts the learning that unfolds. These tend to be short pieces that are part of a longer series. The second style is similar to the first, but has a reflection at the end. These tend to be the last story in a series that included a summative paragraph about the overall growth during the learning endeavour. The third type of story is rich with dialogue. The dialogue illuminates how I provoke the students to further their learning and illustrates how they (re)work and (re)think in the moment. The latter style has great value 166 because it opens a window to see how students receive feedback, reflect, and apply that during a learning experience. After learning stories are complete, they tend to be organized in portfolios or online, in a blog format as formative works in progress. They are shared with the children and their families, so that parents may see, hear, and comprehend the values that are being placed on learning. To support thoughtful feedback and discourse between child, parents, and teacher, I turned to Leggo (2011a) who posits, “My texts are always open, not because I can’t write closed texts, but because I don’t want to” (p. 26). By means of said action, I found that the guidepost of augmentation encouraged me to sustain open texts that allow for discourse and multiple layers of interpretation. I wrote with an open mind and heart and came to understand that the autoethnographic learning story is not a literal re-presentation of the learning experience, but rather, a story that joins pieces together, invites interpretation, and promotes multiple and diverse perspectives. In telling one learning story, there is the chance that I may silence others. Kelly (1997) points out, “To tell one story is to silence others; to present one version of self is to withhold other versions of self” (p. 51). As I wrote the learning stories, I did not want to misrepresent the complexity of the learning endeavors by composing stories that exclude and silence difference, conflict, and confusion. My aim was not to produce assessment pieces that only illuminate the strengths of the children, positive learning outcomes, or solely focus on those exceeding in class. The learning experiences centred on inquiry, meaning making, and creativity. As such, the stories necessitated recognition of the children’s challenges, growth, understandings, and both divergent and convergent thinking. Also, I found that with the primary students, the stories acted as a provocation for them to elaborate on what was being learned, tell other stories about 167 learning, and make connections to their families and friends. The stories not only empowered them to perceive themselves as characters, but to also use their imaginations to talk about those stories from their perspectives as protagonists. Hence, it demonstrated that the story told from the perspective of the teacher does not diminish their comprehension and meaning making of it. Bearing that in mind, children are used to stories being told through the perspectives of others. This corresponds with Piaget’s theoretical framework (1973), which supports the notion that young children’s thinking may start as concrete, but that it evolves into becoming abstract. Abstractions are important and necessary in a child’s ability to make sense of stories, as stories are a means to make sense of the world and our place in it. For example, in the story of “Jack and the Beanstalk,” there is an underlying conflict between the safety of remaining on the ground and the danger of climbing up the beanstalk into the unknown. Many children are familiar with stories that illustrate binary opposites—safety/danger, security/anxiety, good/evil. It is the abstract, affective nature of those concepts in short stories and tales that provide access to, and engagement with, concrete content—even though young learners may not be able to define and articulate abstract concepts (Egan 1993, p. 121). With that in mind, presenting an assessment piece in this manner also encourages an engagement with both abstract and concrete thinking. When children engage in the learning story with their teacher, classmates, and parents, they also use storytelling as a means to elaborate on the teacher’s observations—they illustrate their concrete learning through making inferences to other stories and learning experiences (Yanko & Gouzouasis, 2020). The story fabric offers us images, myths, and metaphors that are morally resonant and contribute both to our knowing and our being known. (Witherell & Noddings, 1991, p.1) 168 The autoethnographic learning story takes us to a place where we can open a window into how learners make meaning and sense of creative, exploratory, and aesthetic learning experiences. From the perspective of an artographer, my examination of weaving living assessment into the learning story has been quite the ‘autodidactic’ tale for me (Gouzouasis, 2017, p. 235; Gouzouasis & Yanko, 2018a, p. 66). I have come to understand how living assessment can support educators to make fine-grained discriminations among complex and subtle qualities, by drawing on our knowledge as connoisseurs of the art being assessed and using that expertise to make value judgments about the qualities of objects, situations, or processes. When reading a learning story, we reflect on the learning that unfolds, ponder our experiences, and carry those moments with us. I have come to discover that the element of dialogue found in the autoethnographic learning story arouses excitement in children as they listen to stories that include them as characters, and because of that they feel empowered to make connections between the text and the pictures, and evoke more stories and connections with their learning. There is great power in the autoethnographic learning story, as it not only reiterates what has transpired, but also enables the assessment piece to become filled with the joy, wonder, and imagination of the children and their connections, interpretations, and meaning making. 6.20 The eBook assessment At the end of every school year, Ms. Liu and I arrange a presentation for parents to see the learning that has unfolded in our inquiries. This year we decided to create eBooks for each group about their experiences at Boston Creek. In the past, we have used various iPad applications to create eBooks, but prefer the application Book Creator, as it allows for video and sound clips to be imbedded in the eBook. 169 One afternoon in early June, we brainstormed various themes in our inquiry to scaffold an outline for our eBooks. The students draw from these ideas to create title pages using coloured pencils and markers. One group finishes rather quickly, and they join Ms. Liu to work on an introduction that foreshadows what the rest of the eBooks will be about. As the class works diligently, I invite each group to the music atelier to do some recording. “Oh, cool the microphone is out!” exclaims Layla. “Yes, you are going to record the title of your book,” I state. The group huddles around the microphone. I press the red circle on the iPad to record and they raggedly, asynchronously chant, “All seasons around.” We listen to the recording, then Stella comments. “You know, when Ms. Liu reads us a story, she always says who wrote it. Well, I think we need to say our names too.” “Yeah, that’s a good idea. Isaac you also need to speak slower. You’re saying the words too fast and not at the same time as us,” adds Layla. We do another take and they are pleased with the results, so they head back to class and send over the next group of students to record. During the following week the students, Ms. Liu, and I work together to design a section that focuses on the various ways the children mapped the creek. Ms. Liu selects a few pictures to give an overall impression of their maps, and the students and I write a reflection on the experiences. As the week progresses, we focus our attention on creating pages based on the part of the creek that speaks to the children’s hearts. Ms. Liu selects photographs taken by the students of those places, and I pull drawings and texts form their learning stories. We reflect on those pages and some children feel that something is amiss with the texts and drawings. They 170 want to create recordings to vocally express their connections, and we head over to the music atelier to record. Isaac decides to go first. He puts his mouth very close to the microphone and says, “I like the stream because sometimes it’s high and sometimes its low.” Layla goes next. “The water makes me feel calm.” “The part that speaks to my heart is Slugly because I like slugs,” Stella adds. Friday rolls along and we work on a new section that focuses on the timbres of the creek’s ecosystem and how the groups recreated those sounds in the music atelier. Half of the class works with me in the music atelier. We select pictures from the documentation wall and they dictate a few short sentences for me to transcribe. The other half is working with Ms. Liu on a section about Slugly using video clips and photographs. As all that activity is going on, the children spontaneously break out in song. “Goodbye Slugly time to go home, time to go home …” After recess, we regroup in their classroom and work on the final section about their music and movement compositions. A few students work with Ms. Jones (an education assistant) and Ellie to create a page that depicts their beautifully illustrated rhythmic compositions. I work with another group to create a page that shows how the children work in groups to layer their rhythmic compositions, and Ms. Liu creates a page that focuses on a video clip of their interpretive dance movements. On Monday we reflect on the new sections, and the students are excited that their parents will be coming in to read their eBooks with them. 171 “I know that you are thrilled to share your books with your parents,” Ms. Liu comments, “but I feel something is missing from them. Think about the parts of a story. What is missing from your story?” “An ending!” Isaac shouts. “Yes, an ending. We can’t just end our story with the dance. We need a proper ending,” she affirms. “We can say The End,” Stella says with a shrug. “No, we need a bit more than that. I think we should record what we learned and liked about the project. That will make a nice ending.” Ms. Liu works with the students to record their parts and sends Layla and Stella to get the iPad and microphone from the music atelier. As they set up the equipment she states, “I may need your help to record because I don’t know how to use the program.” “It’s okay, we’re all pros,” states Stella. The students take charge and Ms. Liu helps out when needed. “One, two, three, go,” whispers Layla as she presses record and gestures Isaac to speak into the microphone. “I like how our group made detailed music. I learned how to make different sounds,” he says. Stella records next. “I like Slugly because I like living things. I like slugs because I know how to dance like slugs. We were making sounds like the animals. Mine was a bird. I learned how to make music. The first time was not good, but the second time was good.” 172 The next day, we publish the eBooks and upload them to iPads. On the last day of school, the students and their parents scatter throughout the music atelier and Ms. Liu’s classroom to share their eBooks. The parents are very intrigued with the stories and discussions arise everywhere between each child and their parents about the inquiry. The parents had read the learning stories, but had not heard the music or seen them perform the movements and were grateful to see these. Others even thanked us for providing them with this opportunity, as they were appreciative to see the inquiry unfold in their hands from the beginning of the year until the end—it felt like they were reliving the experience of exploring Boston Creek with their child.90 6.21 Discourse on the eBook assessment The pedagogy, practice, and theoretical underpinnings of living assessment that have appeared in preceding chapters reappear with the eBook assessment. For instance, the children, Ms. Liu, and I produced a digital snapshot of learning that parallels many practices involved in the production of the documentation wall and the blog posts. That being said, there are some novel distinctions between the eBook assessment and the other forms of assessment previously discussed. Most important is the student’s capacity to draw on the digital arts to depict an assessment of their learning experience, and the prominence of co-, peer-, and self-assessment. As Maxine Greene (1995) promotes, “Participatory involvement in the arts can enable us to see more in our experience and to hear more on normally unheard frequencies” (p. 123). While we produced our eBooks, we drew from already composed assessment pieces and various collections of documentation. That reflects an assessment process that is summative in nature, rather than formative, as they were shared with the students and their families on the last day of school. Be that as it may, this practice illustrates livingness through the processes 90 See Chapter 6: eBook video https://youtu.be/neUEHT_WBYo 173 involved in our creation of the eBook assessments, whereby reiterating and adding other layers of assessment to what was already explored and examined. T. S. Eliot (1942) states, “What we call the beginning is often the end / And to make an end is to make a beginning. / The end is where we start from” (p. 144). Furthermore, the process was rich in engagement and discourse by, with, and through the entire learning community. That in itself reflects characteristics that are inherently formative—illuminating how the guidepost of documentation offers students occasions to revisit, reflect, interpret, and self-organize knowledge. The children engaged with an artful and creative use of digital media to disclose the learning that had transpired over the course of the inquiry. Eisner (2002) reminds us how “through the arts we learn to see what we had not noticed, to feel what we had not felt, and to employ forms of thinking that are indigenous to the arts” (p. 12). During the process of creating the eBooks, the children indicated that the culled documentation artefacts on a page was amiss and dry, and that they needed to breathe more life into the documentation through additional media. Their commitment to design and arrange the content illustrates how the arts can be a conduit for individuals to recreate themselves (Yanko, 2019). Led by the guidepost of augmentation, the children were able to reflect and interpret the assessment as it unfolded, which in turn allowed for multiple and diverse layers of livingness to reside within the pages of the eBooks. They were able to negotiate their subjective identities to elucidate their meaning making and understanding. The more the children engaged in a reflexive process during the composing, arranging, editing, and formatting of their eBooks, the more they illuminated their understanding, subjectivity, and identity. Alongside that, Aoki (1994) states, “Whenever I write a story, I not only produce a narrative but I’m reproducing myself,” which underscores how the art making 174 process culminates with a new art form, whereby the children’s process of creating supplemental artistic media can be perceived as a recreation of themselves (Eisner, 2002). Freire (1996) states, “[T]he work of the teacher is the work of the teacher with the students and not the teacher with himself” (pp. 107-108). With that in mind, empowering students to be protagonists of their educational journey enables them to become actively involved—through their hearts, bodies, and minds—in the process of learning. Their participation in the co-creation of the eBooks demonstrates that they are capable of co-, peer-, and self- documenting educational experiences. As a learning community, the children, Ms. Liu, and I attended to a refined sensibility of observation, which demonstrates the extent to which we (the educators) participated in the assessment process. That balance of power reiterates how assidere grounds a practice of living assessment, as the teacher does not take over the assessment practice, but works alongside the learners to encourage them to be protagonists of their learning. Hence, assessment is something I do with and for my students, not something I do to them. Clandinin and Connelly (2000) helped me understand that assessment is a way of understanding experience—it is collaboration between teachers and children, over time, in a place or series of places, and in social interaction with various milieus. The assessee and assessor are invited to experience together re/creating, re/searching, and re/learning “ways of understanding, appreciating, and representing the world ... in an elegance of flow between intellect, feeling, and practice” (Irwin & de Cosson, 2004, p. 29). Although I was able to attentively scaffold the students to engage in co-, self-, and peer-assessment, research has posited that some students find it difficult to accurately assess their peers due to either little understanding of how to assess or social pressures leading to distorted feedback (Divaharan & Atputhasamy, 2002). It is understandable that such experiences can be discouraging for 175 educators who do not ground their practices and pedagogies in philosophical underpinnings that support student-centered learning. Greene (2001) posits, “How can we speak of endings or summations when so much lies ahead?” (p. 37), and as our journey with the eBooks progressed, we found that we were weaving more and more of the children’s voices into the documentation pages using transcribed text, video, and audio recording. Providing a means to embed the voices of students not only positions them at the centre of the assessment, but also elucidates their understandings and meaning makings through their own words. Through the guidepost of augmentation, we engaged with an assessment process that supports the student’s memory, offering them the opportunity to retrace their own processes, to find confirmation or negation, and to self-correct. Taking that into account, the practice of a student discussing another student’s work in the context of a class is called a crit (Soep, 2000), which alludes to a different means of feedback from that of the teacher. Students are in a reciprocal relationship with one another that requires sensitivity to the kind of language used when commenting on each other’s work—they know that it will soon be their turn to be on the receiving end. Therefore, this process of peer-assessment requires students to look carefully, to assess carefully, and to use words carefully because “the greater the need to comment, the greater the need to search the work in order to have something to say” (Eisner, 2002, p. 194). This engagement focuses on “increasing opportunities for children to experience various, conflicting, and sometimes confusing perspectives […thus supporting] children’s predisposition to challenge one another’s views, all the while providing opportunities for them to revisit, revise, and review their theories and their hypotheses” (New, 1998, pp. 271-272). The eBook puts the assessment in the hands of the child, as the pedagogical comic fell short of that. I now realize that the comic should have been shared in a digital or paper format for 176 the students to peruse at their own pace. Accordingly, on the last day of school, the parents were impressed and grateful to examine the eBooks as they added another layer of assessment, new insights into meaning making and understandings, and a different means of engaging in the process of assessment. Freire (1993) reminds us how “every reading of the word is preceded by a reading of the world” (p. 58). Thus, when parents engage with stories of their children’s learning experiences in the eBooks, they enter into a co-production with the media, children, and teacher to help produce meaning. The parents’ readings and interpretations not only reflect subjectivities, but also illuminate cultural expectations and ideologies that shape their sense of identity and their sense of location in the world. A practice that focuses on the emergent living nature of assessment provides opportunities for parents to discuss the wonder, meaning making, and creativity of young learners, and opens a door for them to see and understand their child in a way that may not have been possible before. The eBook assessment illuminates a need to be willing to transform one’s perception of what assessment is and can be—to allow for it to become a shared endeavor. With that in mind, a fundamental change in the role of the teacher arises here, as there is a shift from a teacher-directed, top down approach to assessment to one that is shared and co-created. This shift necessitates an awareness of ourselves as persons engaged in constructing and reconstructing realities with those around us. It requires us to communicate to students the notion that reality involves multiple perspectives and that the construction of it is never complete, that there is always more (Greene, 1995). This change also warrants a shift in the student’s perception of their role in the process of assessment. In doing so, it creates occasions for co-, self-, and peer-assessment, and promotes democratic discourse, which shows that their words and actions are important, valued, appreciated, and understood. Thus, we need to encourage learners to take an 177 active role in assessment to obtain a deeper connection to learning experiences by becoming an integral part of the assessment process. Acquiring the responsibility to assess is precisely what students need to learn. If young learners are to become competent assessors of their own work, they need sustained experience in ways of questioning and improving the quality of their work. 6.22 Rousing the harmonics of story: An epilogue “There is no such thing as just a story. A story is always charged with meaning, otherwise it is not a story, merely a sequence of events” (Fulford, 1999, p. 6). In the present chapter, I examined the expansive capabilities of storied assessments. At the onset of this journey, I was at a standstill with conventional storied assessment practices. With guidance from living assessment, I was able to break away from those constructs and engage with narrative elements that breathed life into my assessments. Thus, the learning stories and eBooks became more than sequenced events, as they portrayed a way of assessing that invites us to realistically come to know the world and our place in it. Those assessments embrace the power of story to call us to consider what we know, how we know, and what and whom we care about (Witherell & Noddings, 1991). As Lewis (2007) suggests, “If we want primary and early elementary education to be engaging, meaningful and enduring for children we need to look to story, which may enable them to be imaginative, mindful persons in an increasingly complex storied world” (p. 88). As this journey progressed, I came to realize that a good storywriter weaves characters and events into a narrative so that readers can enter vicariously into a sense of the lived experience. I came to understand that there are no cardinal rules for composing assessment narratives because effective stories often contravene research conventions. In the arts, we need to ascertain openness to the possibilities of what assessments are and can be. In that spirit, the 178 guidepost of augmentation became integral to the storied assessments of aesthetic, creative, and exploratory learning experiences. Hutchinson’s (1999) reminds us that: As we tell stories and listen to stories, we stand in a moral relation to one another. The process itself is reciprocal, that is, I tell a story and you listen, and then you tell a story and I listen. But the notion of reciprocity extends beyond this. Reciprocity does not simply mean that we share stories back and forth, but that we have an obligation to listen and tell in ways that will sustain the dignity of one another and avoid domination. (p. 93) In my music program, there is value placed on having a learning community that fosters trust, respect, and encouragement that is reflected in the students’ engagement with storied assessments. It takes great courage to not only share one’s story, but to listen with openness to differences and recognizing the value of another’s point of view and interpretation. According to Rinaldi (2012), “Listening is an active verb that involves giving meaning and value to the perspectives of others” (p. 235). This kind of listening between peers, parent and child, and teacher and student is a way of welcoming others and embracing their differences, as well as a way of welcoming different theories and perspectives. There are many lenses and angles to telling a story. The learning stories were from the perspective of the teacher, whereas the eBooks were co-constructed by the learning community. Some may question if one assessment practice is more worthy than another. One may question if there is greater value in the teacher’s assessment because of his role as a music specialist educator in comparison to co-constructing an assessment piece with students. I believe there is no right or wrong answer, as both enable different subjectivities, values, and judgments. However, each story can be judged in accordance with whether or not it makes sense. With 179 living assessment, making sense implies making meaning—its most direct meaning of enlivening the senses. After all, “A story that makes sense is…one that opens the eyes and the ears to their real surroundings, tuning the tongue to the actual tastes in the air and sending chills of recognition along the surface of the skin” (Abram, 1996, p. 158). If a storied assessment can enliven the senses, it can enable the reader to engage with imagination and wonder—by audiating the plucking arpeggios in a student’s film score, feeling the sticky sap of a tree while exploring its timbre, or sway back and forth with sky-blue tulle fabric to embody a trickling creek. Thus, living assessment provides an opportunity to engage with the story on an entirely new level, in a way that draws attention to the valuing and judgment of a lived experience through the senses. Different levels, lenses, and layers of living assessment were used to weave this chapter. With regard to subjectivity amongst diverse perspectives, Mills (1997) posits, “the process of finding a position for oneself within discourse is never fully achieved, but is rather one of constantly evaluating and considering one’s position and, inevitably, constantly shifting one’s perception of one’s position and the wider discourse as a whole” (p. 97). That idea is present throughout the chapter, as the children were able to read themselves in the learning stories and perceive the teacher’s evaluation of their creativity, meaning making, and growth in those stories. They partook in discourse with one another, teacher(s), and parents and often used the story as a provocation to tell other stories. In making meaning out of their lived experiences, the children became interpreters who stood amidst the chaos of creating eBooks and the final tidy narrative that represented the experience, whereby in the end the narrative became one of multiple possible stories (Leggo, 2004a). 180 With the eBooks, the children became an integral part of the creation process, which enabled them to engage with their positioning and identity on different levels. As they arranged the various documentation to illustrate their understanding of Boston Creek, their actions developed a resemblance to the way people produce and reproduce their individual and collective identities: “being human—human being-ness—means to be creative in the sense of remaking the world for ourselves as we make and find our own place and identity” (Willis, 1990, p. 11). Therefore, the children not only engage in creatively portraying the essence of the creek through the selected documentation, but also partake in defining an identity of their own. Moreover, the participation in co-exploring, -composing, and -recording elucidates that in seeking to collectively make meaning, students are able to cultivate a supportive network within their learning community—one that empowers the development of the individual voice amongst others. Participating in a learning community that fosters the individual voice among peers can support children to reflect on different perspectives—a reflection that involves embracing differences with a sensitivity to that what binds us together. While reflecting on my examination of storied assessments, I came to understand that these stories were not stories in the typical sense. One does not simply pick up a book and read it and put it back. They involve a deeper commitment by the reader and assessor to engage with discourse that allows for open dialogue, heart, spirit, and mind to differences and opinions, whereby the search for enlightenment, responsible choices, perspectives, or means to solve a problem is mutual and marked by appropriate signs of reciprocity (Witherell & Noddings, 1991). With that in mind, the children and I quite enjoyed this means of assessment, and as we reflected on the stories, smiles, laughter, and new stories flourished. 181 Joy is not something that tends to be associated with assessment, but it should not be overlooked with the assessment of the arts. Assessment of the arts through an artistic lens should not only be a medium that welcomes and gives praise to difference, struggles, and meaning making through the arts, but also a means of opening up space that encourages our heartfelt creativities and imaginative wonders. Because of this artful orientation, the children always had more to say about their learning experiences. Metzger (2007) reminds us that stories do not go in straight lines, but in circles. It helps if you listen in circles because there are stories, inside stories, and stories between stories—finding your way through them is as easy and as hard as finding your way home. And part of the finding is the getting lost. If you’re lost, you really start to look around and listen. 182 Chapter Seven: Parent and student feedback on the learning story 7.1 Introduction This chapter is presented as a seamless autoethnography—an autoethnography with theory woven into it (see Bochner & Ellis, 2016, p. 195-210; Gouzouasis, et al. 2014; Gouzouasis, 2008). It centres on sharing the 551 learning stories with my students and their families, and the dialogue and feedback that emerges from that. I originally intended to story this experience in the previous chapter, but an immense amount of data has emerged, and condensing it into a short narrative would greatly diminish the value and importance placed on the role of students and parents in the process of assessment. In dedicating an entire chapter to discourse and feedback, I seek to illuminate how each story comprises many people involved in the learning experience, and how classroom communities can construct understandings of education experiences through storied assessments. After learning stories are complete, they are organized as formative works in progress and reflected on. Thus, the onset of this chapter begins with sharing of the learning stories with the students. As the children immerse themselves in their narratives, dialogues emerge between learner, classmates, and teacher. These discussions not only focus on the experiences presented in the stories, but they take into account how stories can become a means of assessment. Afterwards, their learning stories are bundled up and sent home with a note asking for feedback to provide an opportunity to connect with parents. The second half of this chapter is presented as a dialogue between Peter Gouzouasis and I that examines parent’s comments and concerns with this means of assessment. The parents were invited to respond to three general questions: (1) While reading the stories, did you discover anything new about your child, or about how they learn? If so, please provide a brief example. 183 (2) What did you like best about reading the stories? (3) Compared to your child’s term 1 and term 2 standard report card comment for music, which provides a ‘stronger’ assessment of your child’s learning—a report card or learning stories? Why? In addition, the guidepost of augmentation supports the described experiences in this chapter: the children reflect and engage in dialogue on the learning stories about themselves; the parents read and discuss the stories with their child and provide feedback about this process of assessment; and I reflect on their feedback and engage in discourse with the children and their parents on the learning that has transpired. I also engage with a reflexive practice to better improve my practice of assessment. 7.2 A story on storying student feedback Today I plan on sharing the learning stories with the kindergarteners, and as the papers slowly stream out of the colour printer I organize them into piles. During this process, I think about how learning stories are shared with students to reflect on their meaning making and understandings. My stories are written for an audience of parents and involve complex words and syntax, and because of that I decide to read the stories on a one on one basis. As we read through the stories, I notice a similar occurrence to previous experiences with the documentation wall—listening to stories and seeing the photos expands beyond the confines of the page to more fruitful tales by the children. As the final page turns, I invite each child to draw a picture about their favourite story. Afterwards, we gather together as a class to discuss the stories and their drawings. “Your learning stories tell of our music explorations. Who has a favourite that they would like to talk about?” 184 7.1: Camila’s drawing of her tapping the tree. 7.3: John’s drawing of him saying rhythms. 7.2: Wyatt’s drawing of Lucas and him exploring the guitar with marbles. “I liked the story about exploring the trees because I get to play boom, boom, tap, tap, tap music on the trees,” remarks Derek. “My favourite was the xylophones. I liked taking them apart and playing them upside down,” Luke comments and continues to describe various ways of taping rhythms. He refers to himself as an expert tapper. I turn to Wyatt. “What did you enjoy?” “I learned about the sound the guitar makes. It has more strings than the smaller one.” “The ukulele?” Jason comments. “Yeah, the ukulele has less strings and sounds different than a guitar.” After everyone has a chance to answer I ask another question, “What is something that was difficult for you in music?” “Working with my friends was sometimes hard, but figuring out who goes first, second, and third was easy,” Derek answers. “When we were making music on the playground it was so hard to play quiet because the playground is so loud.” Max states. I tile the green carpet with their drawings, and everyone gathers close to examine the pictures. 185 Camila points to her picture and comments, “I’m tapping du-day on the tree with the yellow stick.” Wyatt points to his drawing. “Me and Lucas are doing marbles on the guitar.” “My drawing is of du-days. I like du-day because I like saying them,” John adds. I dig a bit deeper, “What do you think your parents would notice about how you learn music? Is there something special about you in those stories?” Camila comments, “My stories tell my parents that I know du-day, du, and du-u-u-u.” “I like the planting story. It tells my parents that I’m creative with music,” Hiroshi says. Max adds, “They show my parents how well I work with my friends.” “The story about me and Jason tells my parents how I am calm and like peace in music,” says Luke with a two finger peace sign. Wyatt ponders the question, “My favourite story is the tree story. I think my stories tell my parents how I make music special.” “Mine tell how I am still learning about different beats,” Ava adds. After school, I reflect on each child’s journey over the course of the inquiry and compose a summative learning story that integrates their drawing and our discussion. These concluding stories evidently depict Eisner’s concepts of connoisseurship and criticism—evoking judgment that is not judgmental, but rather a refined sensibility to notice what is subtle yet significant, and the ability to provide reasons for one’s appraisal of their worth (2007, p. 426). A reflection on our musical learning experiences Derek and I read through his stories. As we read them, we stop at different pictures and he shares memories about particular moments in his learning. “What was one of your favourite musical explorations?” 186 “The tree explorations because I get to play music notes on the trees.” “What is your drawing of?” “A tree. We’re making the music about growing.” “What is something that was hard or challenging for you in music?” “Working together with my friends was hard sometimes, but figuring out who goes first, second, third was easy.” “Do you like these stories about your learning?” “Yes, the seed planting story. The stories show that I am creative in music.” We spend a few minutes reviewing his rhythms and he demonstrates an understanding of basic rhythms—even the more challenging ones. After we finish our discussion on his learning stories, I reflect on how he has grown musically over the course of our music explorations: Derek, you have engaged with a musician-scientist mindset during our explorations of the wooden stumps, xylophones, and forest. During the exploration of wood, you compared the different ways of making sounds on the wood using mallets. During the exploration of the xylophone, you compared the sizes and sounds of the bars. My favourite discovery though was during the 7.4: Derek’s drawing of his friends and him playing music with the tree. 187 guitar exploration, when you noticed many differences between the guitar and ukulele, and you played the instruments with marbles and wooden beads. Over the course of many explorations, you have shown an understanding of basic rhythms and have been able to illustrate those in many complex ways—I particularly enjoyed your keen interest in the ‘du-u-u’ note (3 beat dotted half note). Finally, I have noticed that when you worked with your friends to create music in small groups, you worked really well with them—like in the forest when you worked with your group to create a song about growing, you played your music softly so it blended nicely with their music. **** At the end of the week, I share my learning stories with the Grade 1 students in a similar manner to the kindergarten class. Afterwards we gather to reflect on the stories as a community. I pose a question to the group. “I would like to hear about parts of the music and movement project that you enjoyed. For me, I particularly enjoyed the recording sessions.” Suzie waves her hand and squirms. “Yes Suzie,” I affirmatively nod. “The sewer because I liked playing my instrument inside.” “The actual sewer at the park or the sewer you created for our living documentation wall?” “The one we made!” Suzie declares. “My faaaaaaavourite part was figuring out how to do the dance…about the slug …that went into the sewer…so it wouldn’t get eaten,” Layla over exaggerates. 188 “Well, I like recording the music and I like doing the dance,” Mary adds. After everyone has a chance to share, I ask another question. “Throughout this project, I learned that all of you are very imaginative and that you can compromise with one another even if your musical ideas are different. I would like to know a little bit about what you learned during the project.” The class sits in silence a few moments until Mary breaks the silence, “I learned about the sounds of music, as each and every musical sound is different and creative.” “I learned that my instrument makes rain sounds—first I go slow, then fast, and then random,” states Layla as she illustrates with twinkly fingers. Suzie says, “I learned how to do movements for things at Boston Creek—like going up and down, crawling, and how to go slow, medium, and fast.” “Suzie and me also learned how to make water instruments,” Cynthia adds. Janet states, “I learned that we need to work together to make our ideas come true. One person can’t do it all, it’s too hard.” A few more comments are shared before I move onto another question. “I would also like to know what is something that was challenging for you?” “Working together was hard, it took a lot of time to put it together and to say it’s a good idea,” Claire adds. “What do you mean by ‘say it’s a good idea’?” “You know. We all say that an idea is good. If it’s not good, we try to figure out how to make it good or come up with a new idea.” “Oh, you mean agree on an idea,” I confirm. “Yeah, agreeing was hard,” she reiterates. 189 “Working together because there’s so much interrupting and I needed to be patient,” Gloria adds. A few more students respond, and then I move the conversation on. “What was creative or special about your project?” Mary answers first, “I created an instrument using leaves in a bucket. I would turn the leaves with a stick to create water sounds.” Gloria comments, “I made my piano notes feel like walking on the piano, and every time I played them, I had to pretend that my two fingers were walking on the B and G notes.” Kate adds, “My raindrop music was creative because I switched between black and white piano keys and went in a special way to show how rain is random and fast.” The students start to fidget, and I know I can only hold their attention for a bit longer. “My last question is about the stories. Did you enjoy the stories I wrote about your learning? What do you think your parents will say about your learning when they read them?” Kate answers first, “I like the story because I am in it.” “Me too. I like seeing myself in action because the stories are longer and funner instead of a boring short story,” Zac states. Donny comments, “The stories tell my parents how good I work with my friends.” “I think my parents will see that the rain was really creative,” Layla adds. Suzie cuts in with a firm voice and her arms crossed, “I love them because they explain what I was doing in music. But I don’t giggle like you wrote in a story. I laugh.” “I like the pictures because they help me remember what I did,” Sam adds. “Yeah, they help me remember. The stories also explain stuff I forget,” Janet comments. 190 Over the weekend, I spend some time composing a final learning story for each student in a similar manner to those I wrote for the kindergarteners. During that process, I come to understand that our individual and class discussions on the learning experience are invaluable, as they show what each student thinks, their ideas for future directions, what was challenging, what they enjoyed, and the teacher’s reflection on the learning experience. Thus, being able to weave that into their final learning story provides a well-developed, multidimensional summary. After the last story is written, I print and organize the remaining learning stories for the two intermediate classes. On Monday morning, I hand out the stories to the Grade 4/5 students. They are excited to receive them, and break off into smaller groups to read. After a few minutes of digging into them, I walk over to two girls sitting at the back of the room. “What is your impression of the stories so far?” Stephanie flips through the stack. “This is pretty cool. It’s like a book. It shows my parents what I did in music and I don’t have to explain it now to them. It also shows what I got better at.” Sandy adds, “I like reading through them all at once. You interrupted our story and I can’t wait to get back to see how it ends.” “How it ends?” Stephanie exclaims. “We know how it ends.” “It’s just that it reads like a novel. I want to finish it from start to end without breaks.” I leave them and head toward a pair of boys sitting at a piano. “What did you two find challenging about this project?” “Getting each other in sync,” Doug answers. 191 “For me it was putting my fingers on the big recorder. I had to use two fingers for the top and one from the other hand to play a G note,” illustrates Samson with his hands in the air playing a large imaginary recorder. “What do you think about the learning stories?” Samson replies, “I don’t want to read all of them, but I like my stories because the character sounds like me.” Doug comments, “I like them because they tell the whole story of my learning. A report card just tells a summary. I think this one much better because it’s more descriptive and interesting.” “Mr. Yanko! Mr. Yanko! Can we make music on the iPad if we’re done?” George hollers from across the room. I head over to George. “No iPads yet. I have some questions for you to think about. You two really enjoyed making music with the recorder and the iPad, correct?” They nod in affirmation. “How was adding recorder on top of the beats in LaunchPad?” “It was a bit challenging. We had to change the background beats to fit our song,” George replies. “That’s interesting because all of the other groups changed the song to fit with the background beats. What are your thoughts on the learning stories?” “I like them because my parents can actually see that I am doing well in music. The photos help as well,” Carl states. “I like this better than a report card mark,” George adds. “Why do you like it better?” 192 “Cuz it shows my parents that I am good with technology and using my ears to listen for details,” Carl answers. “So, can we use the iPads now?” George asks with a big smile. “Yeah,” I reply and walk to two girls sitting on the green rug. “How are the stories coming along?” “We’re still reading them, but I don’t recall having some of these conversations,” Anaisha comments. I respond, “Hmmm…The words may not be the same because they are fictional stories about conversations we had, but the ideas are about what happened during your learning. Maybe these stories are a useful because they allow us to talk about those moments and how you learn.” “Well, I like the stories because they show how we learn. Compared to the report card it is very different because it’s more than just a few words about my learning,” Francesca adds. Rita calls me over in a singing voice, “We are ready to share Mr. Yanko! “Is there something the stories tell you about your learning compared to your report card?” I ask her group. Rita answers, “It tells way more about my learning. The report card doesn’t say much.” Nadia adds, “I like the stories better. They give more information.” “Yeah, more details,” states Megan. “You are written as characters in these stories. Do you see yourselves in the characters?” “Yeah, except Megan. We do all the talking and she rarely talks,” states Rita. Megan smiles and responds in appreciation, “You gave me a voice.” “Yeah,” Nadia and Rita nod as they place their arms over Megan’s shoulders for support. After we finish our discussion, I head over to a trio sitting by the guitar racks. 193 “What was challenging about working in a group?” The group of girls look at one another with smiles and all reply, “Agreeing.” “Agreeing with one another can be challenging when everyone has their own ideas.” “What do you think about the learning stories?” “I like this better than a report card mark because it’s more detailed and it’s better than the one sentence on the report card. As a story it tells how things happen in music and how I learn,” Britney replies. Alexis flips through a few stories. “My stories don’t have that applying, extending, and emerging, and developing stuff that doesn’t really tell what I am doing in music class.” That afternoon, I wait for the Grade 6 students to arrive and gaze at the last stack of stories on the piano. I ruminate over the previous classes’ engagement with the stories, and how this means of assessment can be shared with peers to allow for fruitful discussions and insights on the storied experiences. I think about how I provided an occasion for the Grade 4/5 students to converse about their learning stories, and how that opportunity illustrates how students receive and give feedback, communicate particular meanings, and expand on concepts and ideas, because “it is not possible, in the arts, to make right or wrong judgments; the only thing that is possible is to be prepared to take one's coat off, so to speak, and get down to an argument” (Aspin, 1982, p. 48). I also ponder over how in depth and reflective some of the Grade 4/5 students’ comments were. They were not superficial responses, but well thought out reflections that illuminate their learning, understandings, and creativity. As the students settle in, I hand out their stories and they eagerly read in silence. Once everyone finishes, we gather in a semi-circle to debrief. “What is something that you learned during the project?” I ask. 194 “I learned how to match ukulele chords to other instrument notes,” Levi comments. Jeff enthusiastically exclaims, “To play chords with other instruments. I also learned how to add music to a film.” Pam adds, “That changing the beat can change the music.” Alan states, “I had to think about what’s happening in the film, and how to create music to fit with each scene.” After everyone has a chance to answer I ask, “I would like to know what was difficult for you with the project?” “Not strumming randomly was hard. I had to come up with beats that fit the film and my group’s music,” states Levi. “For me, it was matching the piano chords with ukulele. It was hard to make a beat that goes well with both parts,” Jeff explains. “Yeah, same for me. Trying to be on the same track as Pam, and playing together as a team was not easy,” Jessica adds. “What about the learning stories? What are your thoughts on those compared to your regular report card mark and comment?” Levi ponders the question, “Well, Mr. Yanko, I like how the stories describe how I learn things instead of just saying that I learned ...” Alan cuts in, “Yeah, they tell what we did and how we did it in a kind of realistic way. I agree with Levi, in that it’s an interesting way that actually shows what we did.” I turn to Megan as she scans through her stories. 195 “I think these will show my parents that we can work together as a group, and that I can fit in different piano chords to the movie. They also tell how I came up with chords that go with the baby shark music.” **** After the stories are sent home, I take some time to reflect on this process of assessment. I think about how they highlight a valuing, in that the students’ comments about the stories illuminate how narratives are advantageous to them as learners—they can encounter what they have done in the form of a story and see the meaning that I have drawn from their work. This demonstrates that what they do has value and meaning. I also think about how this approach supports students as valued democratic members of their classroom community through the theoretical framework of living assessment that embraces the liberating effect of creativity and art. Practices that hinder the voice of children to convey meaning making, creativity, and exploration, also inhibit them from taking charge of their learning and their lives. Therefore, if classroom pedagogy and practice elicit student-centered learning, then the assessment of those experiences should also uphold the same underpinnings to liberate students to become democratic citizens, inside and outside of the classroom. I ponder how living assessment encourages students to engage in artful discourse and interpretation of their learning experiences. I think about the early learners’ excitement to engage with the learning story as a springboard to tell more tales about their experiences. Their involvement shows how analysis can come through story and dialogue. For some, it is important to think with a story, not just about a story, as it allows them to resonate with the story, reflect on it, become a part of it (Frank, 1995). I also reflect on the intermediate students that brought to light their understandings of what assessment is, and can be, for them. They are familiar with 196 traditional assessments practices, like report cards, letter grades, rating scales, and rubrics. Many students commented on how this means of assessment varies greatly from what they are used to because it tells and explains what was learned. One student who normally receives straight A’s on his report card said that he was confused by the learning story, as it did not contain a letter grade, mark, or percentage that he expected to see. This led to a fruitful discussion with his class about what assessment can entail, as it does not necessitate a grade, and how assessment can be a formative process that depicts the learning that occurs. Over the course of the weekend, my thoughts return to the learning story. I think about Suzie’s comment about misinterpreting her laughter as a giggle, and Anaisha explaining to me that her character does not sound like her. I also take into account what Francesca said about the stories not always being completely accurate with minute details, yet they were still able to demonstrate how she learned. I mull over that feedback and how it illustrates that the learning story does more than just depict a learning experience from the perspective of the teacher, it opens a door for discourse and reflexivity. As they flipped through the pages of their stories, they reflected and analyzed their processes of learning, engagement with classmates, and music making. Intrigued by their comments, I turn on my laptop and read through some of their stories. I begin to ruminate over the complexity of subjectivity. It is not an easy task to compose a narrative that truthfully represents a child’s experience, as there will always be details that are misinterpreted or missed. A teacher’s story will always be a fragment of the learning that unfolds in the classroom, playground, and community. I think about how truth is multifaceted and always ever partial, and how the ‘autoethnographic’ learning story approach (Yanko & Gouzouasis, 2020) evokes a ‘verisimilitude’ (Eisner, 1991, pp. 53-58), which can suggest in readers a feeling 197 that the described experience is lifelike, believable, and possible, a feeling that what has been represented could be true (Ellis, 2004; Gouzouasis, 2008). A teacher’s interpretation and judgment may not be exactly right and wrong, but it represents the ‘possible experience’ of others—the experience an observer should have, if they were to see an arts-based learning experience as it really is (Parsons, 1987, p. 52). By artfully stretching the learning story canvas, one can engage with an artistic practice that seeks ‘essences’ and ‘meanings’ rather than precise ‘facts’ (Yanko & Gouzouasis, 2020, p. 709; Ellis, 2004, p. 116). With that in mind, I also consider how the autoethnographic learning story demonstrates various levels of open-ended, interpretive storytelling that draws from characteristics of creative non-fiction and fiction writing. This enables aesthetic and evocative features of writing to blend fact with fiction to draw a reader deeper into the text, like a short story—thus, illustrating how the autoethnographic aspect of the learning story enables it to be an accessible, readily readable, assessment text that appeals to a broad readership and is open to interpretation. As I scroll through the learning stories on my laptop and reflect on my students’ comments, I cogitate the autoethnographic learning story compared to the traditional one (Carr, 2001). To me, the traditional learning story illuminates Gertz’s (1973) thick descriptions, whereas the autoethnographic style exhibits a dialogic narrative that evokes the when, how, and why students speak, as well as what they say. Stephen King (2000) says that dialogue is key to defining characters and has the advantage of showing your characters in action and interaction, rather than only telling us about them (pp. 178-79). Dialogue is very important to the autoethnographic learning story and received a great deal of attention from the students. Alongside that, Anais Nin (1975) believes “The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say” (p. 171). In school, I was a timid student who always observed 198 before speaking, and I was mindful of that type of learner during the process of assessment. When I asked questions to gather ‘data’ to compose the learning stories, some students were unable to answer right away, so I had to reflect on my observations of their engagement during the learning experience to portray their understandings, or artfully weave their comments into the dialogue afterwards, had they something to say. For instance, I composed dialogue from my notes and recollections of Megan’s body language and interactions with her group members to (re)story her engagement in the project. Hence, why Megan states, “the stories give me a voice.” The way in which the learning stories were shared did not follow the customary formative approach of printing and distributing them one at a time. I do see great value in that practice, but in this instance, I assembled the stories in a manner similar to a documentation portfolio—a portfolio comprising a collection of documentation artefacts that depict how a student learns and makes meaning in the classroom. I did so because I was enticed by being able to show a student’s journey and growth during the course of a project by flipping through a collection of stories from start to finish. I did not want parents to worry about piecing individual stories together, and put them in a situation where they would have to make abstract connections from one story to the next over the course of a few months. Although these stories were not distributed one at a time, individual and group feedback was provided as projects progressed, and a reflective practice and rich dialogue occurred as we engaged with the living documentation wall and blog posts. Additionally, some students see value in the collection of learning stories, as they develop like a novel. Thus, rather than being one-off short stories, this approach enables the assessment to unfold like chapters and progress in a formative manner from start to finish. 199 7.3 Storying parent feedback The feedback forms from parents slowly build into a large pile, and I begin to organize them based on evident themes. I was not expecting this much data because only a handful of parents tend to want to discuss their child’s learning in music. As this is an ample amount of data from the parents, I invite Peter Gouzouasis over to review their responses. When Peter arrives, he instantaneously notices the yellow response forms spanning the entire kitchen island. He lifts up a random feedback form to get acquainted with them. As he peruses the paper I ask, “Coffee? Tea?” “Coffee would be great.” I scoop the coffee grinds into the French press. As I pour the boiling water on the grinds, an aroma of freshly steeped coffee begins to percolate. Peter comments, “I can tell that the parents put a lot of effort into writing these reflections. There appears to be a lot of well thought out feedback here that stems from heartfelt appreciation for your work with their children.” He places it back on the pile and picks up a second to read. As he reads the silence becomes unnerving, so I put on a playlist of Mozart sonatas softly in the background. Peter returns the second piece of paper to its pile and picks up a third. 200 7.5: Sample parent feedback form 1. 201 7.6: Sample parent feedback form 2. 202 7.7: Sample parent feedback form 3. 203 As he places the third down, he asks, “How many of these did you receive?” “I was only expecting to get a third of them back, but 57 out of 78 were returned.” “From my examination of research literature, this is the largest amount of parent feedback to date—research by Daniels (2013) has comments from 22 parents; Beaumont-Bates (2017) has 16; and Dunn and Barry (2004) has 9. Some of this research is based on informal conversations and recollections that briefly mention how parents see value in this means of assessment, or how it assures them of how their child learns.” Peter adds, “Even the number of returned responses demonstrates that they have input and want to be a part of their child’s growth.” He sees that the stacks of responses are all labelled and asks, “What are the post-it notes for?” “Yesterday, I reflected on the feedback forms and organized them based on key words and themes. Some piles reflect pedagogy and practice and others reflect assessment. Let’s begin with this pile over here. These responses focus on the first question concerning what parents discovered about their child.” Peter takes the stack, spreads them out across the glass kitchen table and reads. “I didn’t know Doug enjoyed music so much. Nor did I know he had such an ear for layering sound. I learned that the introduction of technology seems to have improved his desire to learn.” “Before I read about what she actually did in music class, I thought Meghan was shy and couldn’t communicate with her classmates. But it seems that she can talk to her group, give ideas, and share her group’s music with you.” “That Samson can play the tenor recorder. He never shares any of this at home. I had no idea that they were composing and recording music.” 204 “That last one reminds me of many that I came across yesterday. A handful of the intermediate students’ parents responded that they were unaware of what was actually happening in music class.” “Yes,” Peter adds, “the first three that I read while you were making coffee also hinted at that. By the way, is the coffee ready?” As I pour our coffee, Peter notice’s another with the same theme. “When asked about music class (or any part of the day) we parents always get the usual nothing response.” “Cream, milk, sugar?” “Milk please,” he states as he continues to explore. Peter stops at one that catches his attention and reads the parent’s discovery. “His love for music. He has an ear for sound, rhythm, and music. Darren is creative and imaginative and can create music whether it’s with an actual instrument, a tree trunk, or two tree branches. I’m amazed at his ability to make a connection with what he has learned in class and apply it to music!” I place two ceramic mugs on the kitchen table. “These stories really do illuminate the creativity and imagination of the children. Those words stood out for me because they don’t normally show up in traditional assessments. Traditional assessments tend to focus on skill development because you can’t measure a child’s creativity, imagination, and wonder. Yesterday when I was reading through them, I counted 19 responses that reflected on creativity…” “Nineteen isn’t a significant number,” Peter cuts in. 205 “I understand that, but when assessment practices rarely reflect on creativity and imagination, I believe that number becomes significant. And concepts like creativity, exploration, imagination, and wonder are essential to the arts. Maxine Greene (2001) once said that imagination discloses possibilities—be it personal, social, or aesthetic, and ‘by imagining, we are enabled to look at things, to think about things as if they were otherwise’ (p. 65). I feel many of the responses share that sentiment. I’ve marked three examples to share that have imagination and creativity written in red across the top.” We search through the scattered jigsaw puzzle of papers on the table and find two out of the three examples. “We enjoy seeing Shawn improve and the creativity he used to make his composition.” “We like how John used his imagination and different types of props to show movement and make sounds to imitate water, rocks, and sticks.” Peter takes a sip of coffee. “It’s reassuring to see that parents understand, reflect, and value their children’s engagement with creativity and imagination during the process of learning.” “Part of the reason why I took note of these instances is because imagination as a cognitive capacity is often overlooked in education experiences and assessment, yet it is so fundamental to the arts. Dewey sees imagination as the capacity to look at things as if they could be otherwise. For instance, “When old and familiar things are made new in experience, there is imagination. When the new is created, the far and strange become the most natural inevitable things in the world. There is always some measure of adventure in the meeting of mind and universe, and this adventure is, in its measure, imagination” (1934/1989, pp. 271-272). Peter attempts to read a scribbled note in purple on the backside of the form. 206 “Did you write this, Matt? I can’t make sense of it.” I take the paper from him and read the quote on the back. “G. B. Madison (1988) once said, ‘It is through imagination, the realm of pure possibility that we freely make ourselves to be who or what we are, that we creatively and imaginatively become who we are, while in the process of preserving the freedom and possibility to be yet otherwise that what we have become and merely are’ (p. 191). I believe that reiterates what Dewey is alluding to.” He sifts through the papers on the table and announces, “I found the third example.” “I liked how George released his inner world and imagination without fear as he found a safe atmosphere to express.” He places it next to the other two and ponders over them. “The parents’ comments also remind me of the intricacy between creativity and imagination. Raymond Kenneth Elliot wrote that ‘Creativity is imaginativeness or ingenuity manifested in any valued pursuit’ (1975, p. 139). He does not tie the concept of creativity to an end product, but only to a ‘pursuit’—in other words, to the process.” “Okay, then can we insinuate that a creative process is necessary in assessment to illuminate the imaginative and creative efforts of the children?” “That’s a very interesting point. It appears as if creativity and imagination centre on the process. As the processes involved in creativity for Elliott (1975) are ‘problem-solving’ and ‘making something of an idea’. He claims that ‘to proceed imaginatively is...to be creative’” (p. 147). 207 I cogitate what he said, “So Peter, I feel you are alluding to the process of assessment as a creative process. That reminds me of how the arts can inspire an engagement with imagination, and how I support that through the guideposts of living assessment.” I point to a painting on the wall and continue to make my point. “Paul Cézanne once said that our eyes can see the front of a painting, while imagination curves to the other side (Greene, 2001, p. 74). If we look at assessment through that lens, then traditional practices only look at the front of a painting and assess what is already known.” “Exactly,” Peter adds, “Imaginative assessment practices should parallel and draw upon the imagination and wonder of the child in the learning experience. Teachers should engage with conjecture, hypothesis, and invention. They should be able to imagine the world differently in significant ways. When an assessment draws upon imagination, we not only enable the assessment to reflect creativity, but also allow for the assessee to reflect on that imaginative assessment to also ‘form new thoughts and discover new truths and build up new worlds’” (Greene, 2001, p. 114). I take a sip of my coffee and pause for a moment before playing off of that idea. “So, do you believe a summative assessment could also provide value to imagination and creativity?” “Well, if you are engaging with learning experiences centred on creativity, exploration, wonder, and imagination, you also need to be able to bring that engagement to life in assessments that can do that. The eBooks were able to accomplish that as summative assessments, but there was so much that went into the process of creating those books that the process itself became formative,” he responds. We return to the papers scattered across the table. Peter reads a few more comments about parent discoveries. 208 “Learning stories allow us parents to enter into their little minds and follow their thought process. They show us how they get from point A to point B—and provide a glimpse on how they learn, think, and perceive music.” “While I was reading the stories, I got so involved. It felt like I was there and listening and observing the whole project.” I add, “I’ve noticed that quite a few parents commented on how the stories draw them into the learning process. They are marked in red with ‘gateway’ across the top.” “Yes, there are a few right here,” Peter says. “I felt like I was in class with Claudio bopping my head to the beat.” “It’s like watching TV and having yourself (Mr. Yanko) explain to us parents how their expressions, movements, and music develop over the semester.” “It seemed like it was an actual book I was reading about my daughter.” “It makes me feel like I was in class with Fran and watching her come up with this recorder project. It almost feels like I was watching a video of her progress.” Peter ponders the responses. “Bruner once said that we live storied lives (1986), so when we reflect on who we are and what we do, it is in the form of a story or a narrative. That ties back to the epistemology of story as method, or in this instance as a method for assessment—story is a way in which we tell ourselves to ourselves. We live storied lives.” I sift through the papers on the table. “That also goes along with an idea of Clandinin and Rosiek (2007): ‘Human beings have lived out and told stories about that living for as long as we could talk. And then we have talked about the stories we tell for almost as long. These lived and told stories and the talk about the stories are one of the ways that we fill our world with meaning and enlist on another’s assistance in building lives and communities’” (p. 35). 209 “Again, we turn back to Bruner (1987) and his idea that ‘narrative imitates life; life imitates narrative’ (pp. 12-13). The use of verisimilitude in your learning stories supports that idea, Matt.” “Verisimilitude? As in truth-likeness that I draw from autoethnography?” He takes a sip of coffee and continues. “Precisely. Verisimilitude enables the parents to immerse themselves in the story and read it as if they are the teacher observing the learning experience (Eisner, 1998, pp. 53-58). There is an underlying verisimilitude within each autoethnographic learning story that engenders the breadth and depth of ‘auto.’ The autoethnographic aspect of this practice extends beyond teacher and child perspective to allow parents to conceptualize vivid, living narrative maps—living assessments—of their child’s development (Yanko & Gouzouasis, 2020).” “So, you’re saying parents can perceive the learning story as opening a window into their child’s learning experiences. Whereby instead of thinking about the learning story as data that can be broken down and analyzed, they engage with it as a way of being in and engaging in the world.” “Yup.” And with that simple affirmation Peter collects the scattered papers from the table. While he does that, I take the next pile from the kitchen island. “The next stack centres on the second question concerning what they enjoyed with the stories.” “I enjoyed many things but very much liked your approach to teaching music. I also really like being able to have a glimpse into the group’s conversations and interactions, their problem solving skills, reading about how they work through things, and their creative ideas. 210 Also, your encouraging comments and cheering them on in such a positive and natural manner is awesome.” “How it challenges Jessica to think and problem solve in her own unique way.” “What I like the best about reading the stories was seeing the step by step process Gloria took to reach her ultimate goal in completing the music and movement project.” “I am glad to see how the kids take on problems and use their own ways to solve them throughout the whole project—they even looked for teacher’s opinion and suggestions to improve what works. Through those learning process, they learn how to cooperate and accept each other’s strength and weaknesses.” “I am surprised to see how many times Jeffrey is willing to retry and test/trial. Quite amazed to see that he’s able to utilize his knowledge from piano lessons and create something completely from scratch.” “The stories showed us what Suzie went through via the whole process. They gave us a better understanding of her schoolwork and personal development.” We sip our coffee in unison and pause to reflect. I break the silence. “I’ve noticed that many reflected on the process of learning and how the students took on challenges and roadblocks.” Peter interjects, “This sticky-note states ‘process of learning/growth = 26.’ Is that how many times those terms showed up?” “Yes, 26 parents commented on how the stories depict the process of learning. I took note of that because some studies see this as a void in research. For instance, Daniels (2013) brought to light situations where teachers focused on creating positive snapshots of single learning experiences. Also, Dunn and Barry (2004) found that ‘by focusing on the positives, we may not 211 be giving the full picture. Reading the learning stories may mislead parents.’ However, when I wrote the stories I never thought that I was narrating an overly positive view of the students’ learning. I believe that may have something to do with composing these stories with a growth mindset. Akin to how a story has plot, the learning story also needs plot, otherwise there would be nothing novel or challenging.” I head into the kitchen to put some homemade Italian pastries in the oven. While doing so, Peter stands up to stretch and returns the papers. “Is there a particular stack that we should go through next?” “How about this one right here. It focuses on pedagogy and practice.” I hand him the pile. I notice that our coffee cups are almost empty, and more caffeine is vital to get us through the morning. I put on the kettle to boil some more water, while Peter spreads the papers across the table and reads a few aloud. “I enjoyed seeing how learning does not always have to be behind closed doors and in a classroom. Learning can be creative and imaginative and just as engaging if not more so for kids—i.e., they are allowed to explore and tap into their creative side. Amazing how many different sounds Max could make and how he made music and rhythms with just about anything he could find.” “The music lessons I am familiar with are more traditional classroom based and have less student engagement. I am delightfully surprised to see that Derek has the opportunity to learn through discovery, experimenting, group work, and applying what he learned by creating his own music. He told me he likes music and being a music
UBC Theses and Dissertations
Living assessment : the artful assessment of learning in the arts Yanko, Matthew 2021
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