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How to call Participation Grade by a new name

I am taking over a high school choir class and the past director told me the administration is trying to get away from using the "particiaption grade" label.  So basically, I can still grade the students based  on participation (which ends up being 50% of final grade) but I have to call it something else (silly, I know).  Anyone have any ideas???
Replies (23): Threaded | Chronological
on September 2, 2015 3:47am
I use "rehearsal skills" and include everything from being prepared for class with the correct materials to behavior.
Applauded by an audience of 5
on September 2, 2015 4:18am
How about something like "Observed daily practical musicianship?"
on September 3, 2015 6:25am
I just changed my syllabus to "practical musicianship skills" and found I could focus on the positive habits of a good musician rather than the bad habits of a normal student.  I think I am going to really like this new focus in my class.  Thank you for the impetus to reevaluate what I do in my class.
Applauded by an audience of 2
on September 2, 2015 4:22am
I call it "Rehearsal Engagement."
on September 2, 2015 5:00am
"Ensemble Contribution"
Applauded by an audience of 2
on September 2, 2015 6:00am
I have delineated the "participation" I am looking for.
Correct Posture
Correct Breathing
Focused tone
Tall Vowels
Correct singing (Because unfortunately, I have had one or two students who would sing out with gusto wrong on purpose....)
Applauded by an audience of 3
on September 2, 2015 6:03am
I call it "Rehearsal Technique" and then I have a behavior component I call "Rehearsal Etiquette."  I justify these by saying "Knowing how to rehearse--both in using good vocal technique and in good rehearsal etiquette--is as valuable a skill as knowing how to act in a corporate meeting, a job interview, or an inservice."  Hope this helps.
Applauded by an audience of 4
on September 2, 2015 6:36am
I call my daily points "rehearsal etiquette."
Applauded by an audience of 1
on September 2, 2015 6:45am
My husband uses the term "professionalism."  It includes things like being on time for rehearsal, having all your music and a pencil, being ready to play when he raises his hands (not talking and making the group wait), knowing your part, paying attention in class, dressing appropriately for concerts, etc. 
Applauded by an audience of 2
on September 2, 2015 7:02am
I recently had to do the same thing. I now call it "collaboration," and grade it on how well the students work as a group. Hope this helps!
on September 2, 2015 10:04am
I call it "Collaboration & Self-Direction", which is a bit high-falutin', but it came directly from a book our district was using regarding 21st century learning skills.  I figured nobody could argue. . . 
Applauded by an audience of 2
on September 2, 2015 3:17pm
Personal Engagement in Rehearsals and Performances
Building Vocal Abilities
Building Expressive Musical Abilities
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on September 3, 2015 6:16am
Several here are good.  I like the ones that separate musicianship (which is often all-too-associated with talent) from behavior that is a choice.  (Sometimes parents will say, "My child is not as talented/"good voice"-(ed), but they work harder than..."  )  Natural musicianship is not in their control.  Listening, posture, marking music., studying their part, attending after-school rehearsal [ or at least a valiant attenpt to arrange for an alternate ride, or keep their calendar accurate  months in advance, avoiding conflicts with work/football practice/poetry reading/algebra coaching, etc.] ... are in their control, and should be graded.
on September 3, 2015 6:28am
I always use "Professional Responsibilities." I was able, with permission from administration, to tie ALL aspects of classwork into the grade, including being on time for class. They started with a 100 at the beginning of the term, and then I took points off for every infraction. This constituted 50% of their grade in my class, with tests and call times making up the other 50%. At the start of the next term, they return to a 100.
I also subscribe to the philosophy that low grades are bad for recruitment and retention in the fine arts. So, I rarely give final grades under a 90. I told the students that I know, and THEY know, that an 88 is a "D" in my class, but their parents still think it's a B+.
No pencil = 2 points
No music = 3 points
No focus = 1-3 at my discretion
Late for class = two points
I kept a binder on a stand next to my podium, with a page for each day. When a student commits an infraction, rather than go through all the beauocratic nonsense, I just say "sign the book." Once a week, I go through and tally grades. It solved, within a week, rampant tardies. It also allowed me to focus on teaching rather than discipline. At the end of the term, I have a pretty good snapshot of professionalism and it allowed me to get a clearer idea of who to promote each year.
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on September 3, 2015 6:58am
Wow - This just came up on The Yellow Board, a chat board for band directors.  ( Click on Message Board.)  "Rehearsal Skills" seemed to be the winner, followed by "Rehearsal Technique."
on September 4, 2015 6:06am
The "participation" category in my gradebook is called "Rehearsal Attendance and Conduct."  That and performance attendance are the largest portion of the final grade.  There is a more lightly weighted category for written homework, practice assignments, etc. 
on September 5, 2015 9:14am
We call it "contributions" and associate it with daily effort, commitment, and positive influence on the ensemble; willingness to contribute actively to the success of the group by sharing their unique voice.
on September 6, 2015 3:36am
I changed mine to "in class performance"
on September 6, 2015 4:34am
If you wanted to use a great buzz word, you could use "Rehearsal Formative Assessment"
I had 10 Rehearsal points broken down as follows (let's see if I can remember them!):
  • On time 
  • In seat 
  • Folder
  • Holds music up (not on lap)
  • Pencil
  • Follows instructions
  • Posture
  • Observable Musicianship (3pts) - Good vowel formation, engaged in music, demonstrates leadership
If you did everything that was expected, you got an 8 out of 10 for the day. Points in the observable musicianship category were the "going above and beyond" points. I stressed that the homework load was very light in choir, and so their "grade" is earned from bell to bell. An "A" in choir should be comprable to an "A" in another class. Different approach, same rigor.
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on September 7, 2015 7:07pm
I'm glad that we're talking about this. Regardless of what you call it, I've re-thought this and realized that it's tough to quantify--and, to a certain, extent, to justify. I like Timothy's idea, as it is very specific--and it puts the onus on the student. 
One thing that I do, at least once per quarter, is to have students give themselves a grade on their Participation and Effort, which actually figures in to their quarterly grade. (Students from 7th grade onward are generally pretty perceptive and accurate on this.)
Increasingly, though, I wonder if a "participation" grade is relevant. Obviously, participation matters a lot, but what about kids who are legitimately absent? And, for the kids who are there, can we objectively assign a Participation evaluation for each of them on a daily basis?
on September 8, 2015 8:38am
I've used "Rehearsal Focus" before and seems to work well.
on September 9, 2015 4:15am
I have a rubric for rehearsal skills. It was gifted to me by a local choir director who was dealing with the same thing. Lots of detail and definitively justifies grades. If anyone would like a copy, email me: brandi.hallford(a)
on September 10, 2015 7:34am
It can be hard to feel like you've actually evaluated each and every kid's full spectrum of rehearsal skills each day.
So what I do is give them the points up front - and assume "no news is good news."
If they are not doing anything negative that catches my attention, I don't have to mark anything down and I assume that they were successful in rehearsal that day when I'm back at my grade book.  With tons of kids to manage, this is the only efficient way I've found works for me consistently.
They have 5 points for each class meeting.  It's up to them to lose them.
Then I just have to log deductions.
And I just call it "daily points".  Then it can cover whatever we are doing on a given day.  Are we practicing logistics? Listening to a recording? Rehearsing? Sometimes we are collaborative, and sometimes (rarely) we aren't. 
I've also found that the points usually work out pretty accurately for how the kid generally was in rehearsals over the grading period.
When kids are absent (for ANY reason) they don't get the points for that day.  Medical, field trip, whatever - their butt isn't in rehearsal, they don't get their points.
This is only legal for me to do (at least in my district) if I offer a way for them to make it up.
More info on making up points (off-topic):
My makeup assignment is a makeup solo - which can replace a week's worth of points and is due in class by the end of the quarter.
Kids can elect to do it or not.  If they only missed a couple of times, they might still have an A without it.  No big deal.
Other kids who maybe have been sick a lot or who miss for a lot of school stuff can make it up.
It lends a seriousness to our time each day.  They missed singing, therefore they make it up with singing.
I also let them do a makeup solo for a missed concert with an excuseable absence.  No makeup if they skip.
After a year or two, makeup solos became part of our culture and I rarely have a kid miss a concert.
It also gives me justification and a procedure for those kids who have poor attendance.
Usually they don't come in for help on a solo or work on one on their own, so their grade usually ends up reflecting the fact that they weren't in rehearsals very much.
On the other hand, if they work hard at replacing their points they feel successful and get to see the group clapping for them and cheering them on and they feel like they are part of us again.
Songs have to be appropriate for school, be memorized, and have some kind of accompaniment.  They choose.  Any genre.
I also let them sing in duets or groups as long as they have harmony and each kid sings solo at some point.
At the end of the quarter, we have a day where the makeup solos sing for their choir and it ends up being a very supportive and enlightening experience.
I really work hard on making our room a safe space - so your class culture has to be supportive.
Sometimes, a kid just has too much anxiety to do it - and as long as they've work hard on it with me, I will sometimes just drop the grade altogether.
Sorry for the long message!!!
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