Just the other day my students were working on an Interval worksheet (identification) with 24 different Intervals on the paper. I have 100 students completing this work, so that's 2,400 Intervals I have to grade for one assignment on one day. Sigh.... So, for a few hours at night I have to go through each worksheet, quickly scanning over them just to see if my students' identified each Interval correctly, the do the math and give them a grade. Alternatively, I could get a couple students to grade them for me (I don't do this 😉). Regardless, because in both instances I'm trying to quickly get through this tedious grading exercise, I probably don't spend enough time looking at my students' answers to do some analysis and find out WHY my students are getting wrong answers. Is it because they didn't count the lines and spaces of the music staff correctly, or did they miscount the half steps between the two notes? Are these careless mistakes, or is there a trend going on? Figuring that out takes even more time ☹.
Over winter break I started brainstorming in my head how I could create music theory activities in PowerApps, and not for stuff low on Bloom's totem pole like identification, I'm talking about creating. That's really what we want our students to do with the knowledge and skills we teach them. "I've taught you, now go prove you understand by creating something!" Working on previous PowerApps, I gained some understanding of using variables which really helped out in the design process of the music theory activities. It also really helps that music notation has a bunch of math going on based on note placement and value too. I could create an assessment activity where my students manipulate music notes, submit an answer, and I get to collect all the assessment data I want (because I'm the designer and I know what information I want from my students' answers 😉), and then dump all that data into Power Bi for automatic grading and analysis. Did you read that? Automatic grading and analysis. So I got to work, and within a few days I had my first assessment activity for my students.
My first assessment related to what my 7th/8th grade students were currently learning back in January; creating Major and Minor scales given a tonic note and using the Half Step/Whole Step formula related to both modes. This activity reinforces their knowledge of Treble and Bass Clef notes, Half and Whole Steps, Enharmonics, basic Intervals, lays the groundwork for establishing a Key for a piece of music, and also helps to explain the whole reason for a Key Signature. Normally this is done through paper and pencil activities, and also takes forever to grade.
1) Teacher assigns scale
2) Student sees assigned scale, creates scale, and submits scale
3) Student no longer see assigned scale because it has been turned in.
To figure this out I used some knowledge I recently gained on creating star-schema data models. Each assigned scale would have a primary key in one data table, and on a separate table my students' submissions would include a primary key (created on their submission). If a match existed, that scale was "turned in" and wouldn't show up on the screen anymore. Cool stuff.