Depth of Knowledge in the Orff Classroom


Many of you have been asked to refer to the Depth of Knowledge Chart as you plan for you instruction and assessments. You can find the chart by clicking here:

Essentially, there are 4 levels of depth when it comes to knowledge. As the level gets higher, the depth gets deeper.

The levels summarized:

Level 1 (recall) is easy and focuses on recall, sequence of events, labeling, following directions, and describing features

Level 2 (skill/concept) gets a little more in-depth with identifying major events, using context clues, solving multiple step problems, and organizing data.

Level 3 (Strategic Thinking) is higher level thinking as students must support their ideas with details and examples, identify questions, applying concepts, and revising.

Level 4 (Extended Thinking) deals with designing, creating, synthesising, analyzing, and connecting.

As this applies to music, we need to make sure that we’re asking the students to perform in those level 3 and level 4 areas as opposed to simply level 1.

Your level 1 music experiences are identifying notes on a staff, recalling facts about composers, and worksheets with vocabulary.  While some of that is fine and necessary, think about changing your instruction to make the students work to discover the content.

You can teach the notes on the staff at level 1 by telling the students to memorize the popular pneumonic device Every Good Boy Does Fine, FACE. That requires absolutely no higher level thinking for students. It’s strict memorization.


Let’s say you are teaching recorder (or bells, or voice) and you have taught the note A. You can say something like this, “This is the note, it’s called A.  When a composer wants you to make this sound, they put the note in this space.”

“Now, I’m going to play another note.  I want you to listen to see if this note sounds higher or lower. (students answer). That’s correct, it’s higher.  If this note is higher, and the composer wants you to play this note, where do you think it belongs?”

“Great, now let’s make up a melody using A and B on our recorders, we are going to allow the song to be 4 measures long and 2 notes can fit in a measure. Who would like to tell us which note to start on? (create the rest of the pattern).” Don’t worry about the other notes on the staff, they aren’t important at this time. They aren’t relevent until the students need them to create!

That line of questioning and creating gives the students ownership of their learning, keeps them engaged, and allows them the opportunity to THINK in those  deeper levels of knowledge.  You then have the added bonus of being a team player at your school because you are asking the students to operate at a high level like the rest of the staff.

Thoughts? Do you use the DOK chart in your school? What are ways that you teach popular concepts in the higher level range as opposed to the lower level range?


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