Assessing Creating with Distance Learning

Assessing Creating with Distance Learning: iPad apps, SeeSaw activities, and more for creating while online learning

This entire week, I’ve been writing about assessing with distance learning, from assessing musical literacy to assessing musical response. In today’s blog post, I’m writing about assessing creating with distance learning.

A few notes about assessment and creating. First, it was my hope with this blog series to help out those of you who have to assess and give grades in this distance learning situation. I have heard from some of you that you are not allowed to assess or give grades during this time, but I still feel like this information could be helpful. If you look at these as formative assessment ideas, then you could simply use the activities I’ve outlined to gauge student understanding, instead of to give a grade.

Now about creating…even in a “typical” situation, I’ve struggled with how exactly to assess creativity, because it’s such a subjective thing. At times, I’ve just assessed whether or not students completed a project or activity, so it’s like a pass/ fail grade, and in some instances, I’ve had more detailed guidelines, or rubrics, to assess. As I’m giving ideas, I’ll outline where guidelines, or a rubric, would work well.

And one more note: I’ve detailed several different activities and platforms in each of these blog posts, but use what works for you. I would really love to use SeeSaw, but because my students are not already set up with SeeSaw, I’d have to send home individual emails to every single parent and have them sign in with a code in order for students to use it, so I’ve decided to use a combination of Schoology, Peardeck, and Google Slides—all platforms that my students already have access to. However, I will offer ideas for several platforms, so you can choose what works for you and your school population!


SeeSaw works really well in this kind of situation, because of its ability to have students record and write. In this blog post, I wrote about having students compose 16 beats of rhythm, then recording themselves reading their composition. Here are a few more activities that could work well for creating and composing:

For these activities, you could use a rubric. As you are creating a rubric, you could consider any of these:

  • Did students follow the guidelines?
  • Did students write the rhythms correctly, or the melody in the right place on the staff? (If considering this, you might also give a musical literacy grade, instead of just a creating grade)
  • Is the composition interesting? Does it have variety?

Creativity Apps and Websites

Apps such as Keezy and GarageBand could be a great way for students to create music during distance learning. You could give a few guidelines, then ask them to share with you if possible, by recording or saving their composition and emailing it to you. For example, with GarageBand, you could have students choose three loops that sound good together, and layer them on top of each other. Chrome Music Lab could be a great alternate, if your students don’t have an iPad. Students could create in any of the different sections, then if possible, record themselves with a platform such as Screencastify. If that’s not possible, they could simply send you an email or message about what app they used, and what they liked about their composition. Here is a composition I made with the Kandinsky section of Chrome Music Lab (note: circles make faces, and triangles make a triangle sound!)

With these activities, I’d suggest you just record whether or not students have completed the activity, either by listening to their creation or reading their response to their composition.


With Peardeck, you could have students use a drawing slide to compose their own 8 beats of rhythm, like this:

You could also have students reflect on their composition, with a slide like this:

For these, I just used templates already in the library, and customized them. As far as rubrics go, you could assess whether the composition included 8 beats of rhythm, whether it had a “final” ending, such as a ta or a rest, and whether students used a variety of rhythms. Of course, you'd want to communicate what you're looking for with students.

Digital Interactive Notebooks

With these interactive notebooks, there is a creating section, in which students compose rhythm and even label the form!

Students could also read, write, and classify with this notebook, so it could be used for other strands of music and assessment.

Body Percussion

I love this set by Tracy King! Students could use it to create their own body percussion piece, and then share it back with you! I will be using it with first grade, in place of a similar project I usually do at the end of the year.

I hope this is helpful to you, as you consider how to assess in the music classroom, with distance learning. Feel free to hop on over to my FB group to tell us which assessment and/or platform you plan on using for having students create! Happy (online) teaching and planning!

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