Conservatory Lab Charter School (Boston, MA)

Download Case Study School Reports: 2003 (JLTM II), 2007 (JMIE)

Project Background:

Boston public school in need of stability due to funding, building operations, transient students, and administrative leadership creates partnership with New England Conservatory’s Research Center and establishes prototypical standards for the RUBRICS CUBE assessment system.  Generative models for MLL curriculum development, teaching practices, student work documentation, and teacher professional development take root in the context of NEC’s MIE Guided Internship Program and Research Center.

Placing music at the center of the curriculum and professional development produces evidence of substantial academic improvement linked with growing excellence in music and leads to the formation of the Music-in-Education National Consortium in 2002 and its Learning Laboratory School Network in 2005.

Partnership Organizations:

New England Conservatory (NEC)

Key Elements:

The Five Processes Framework and Shared Fundamental Concepts: School adopts the Five Fundamental Processes (Listening, Creating, Performing, Inquiring, and Reflecting) intrinsic to fully engaged learning in music and any other subject area.  Interdisciplinary Lessons are designed to help students understand (1) fundamental concepts shared between music and language, math, science, history, movement, visual art, social-emotional development, and technology, and (2) key interdisciplinary features shared among all disciplines including:  Shared Concepts (proportion, sequence, part-whole relationships, symmetry), Shared Strategies (sorting, counting, collaboration, decoding, systems thinking), Shared Contexts (historical periods, cultural perspectives), Shared Representations (graphs, words, notations), and Shared Assessment Devices (performance assessment, tests, portfolios, rubrics).

The Teacher Portfolio: Classroom teacher and music specialist Teacher Portfolios become tools for practitioner-based action research.  With professional development support, teachers develop and revise their portfolios, which become rich descriptions of the individual teacher’s interpretation of work, questions, and issues raised throughout the year.  Teachers report enhanced engagement with their more active teaching practices and thus enhanced, ‘hands-on’ student understanding of music and its connection to other academic classes.

The Student Portfolio: Student Portfolio System provides evidence of learning from multiple sources and thus a validation of the essence of the school’s mission in public education.  Based on rigorous standards of data collection and annotation and multiple rubrics for various categories of student progress and content-based learning, the portfolio process provides a close-up view of how music enhances learning across the curriculum.  Teachers gather student work to provide evidence of Engagement; Progress over Time; Achievement of High Standards of academic, social-emotional and musical development; High Standards of Interdisciplinary Learning; and Five Processes Learning.

Music and Math: The study of rhythm music notation provides an alternative symbol system for understanding fundamental concepts of duration, proportion, ratio, and fractions.  Student work samples show evidence of student learning in both music and math.

Music and Language Arts: Teaching for Learning Transfer strategies provide multiple strands of evidence of music-integrated learning.  E.g., one lesson focuses on the process-rich investigation of ‘main idea and supporting details’ in language arts and music and provides evidence of causal links between the two disciplines.

Data Analysis: Student academic, music, and music-integrated learning outcomes are analyzed, displayed, and employed to further the institutional advancement of the laboratory school and contribute to research in the field of Music-in-Education.  Data show a strong correlation between academic and music learning over time within the context of music-integrated instruction.

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