Make Your Classroom Like A Guitar Circle Jam Session

**About the picture: In June of 2022, I had the privilege of visiting the Gallery of Iconic Guitars on the Campus of Belmont University in Nashville, TN. The guitar I’m playing is a 1946 Martin D-18. There are very few of those guitars around that are still playable. It’s remarkable instrument with a big booming voice!

I began playing guitar when I was five years old, and a guitar has been a constant companion of mine to this very day. Learning to play guitar provides some great challenges, but it also provides tremendous feedback. Notes are either right or wrong, and you know the status immediately. The guitar allows you to build on what you learn, and it gives you the opportunity to create new things. Guitarists tend to form communities, and they often share what they know with one another. 

I think every classroom should be like a guitar circle jam session, so that students can determine their performance abilities, build upon what they know, and work with other musicians. Jackie Acree, author of the book Questioning for Formative Feedback: Meaningful Dialogue to Improve Learning might agree. Acree identifies three similar student roles that exist within a formative classroom (pp. 86-97):

  1. Self-assessor. Students who self-assess establish learning goals, monitor their own progress, ask questions, seek feedback, and use the feedback to improve.  
  2. Knowledge constructor. Students who construct knowledge ask questions, seek feedback, and use the information gathered to strengthen their understanding and expand upon it. 
  3. Collaborative contributor. Students who collaboratively contribute provide honest responses to questions, engage in active listening, provide feedback to others, and comfortably share information. 

As you prepare for next week, think of ways that you might help your students find their groove (sorry, guitar jam lingo!) in these three areas. You and your student will be glad you did!

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