So, Year 7 and I are rocking and rolling with our badges! (If you want to know where we started read this post!)
The students have created some super badges, ranging from Great homework to Going the Extra Mile and Problem Solver. Almost without exception they have found the project fun, creative and have learnt a great deal. One noted; “This has been the BEST project ever”. The criteria, as expected, was the hardest part with some students doing this very well and others needing more support – from their fellow students rather than me. I have only intervened to try to create a relatively standard approach to make it easier (and less time consuming ) to track and award badges.
The emphasis is on the student to track and then claim their badges (again, taken from Martin Waller’s work with his class). All students have created a table listing the badges they can earn, the criteria and a column to track them. I then tell them when I am awarding them a ‘credit’ towards a particular badge. For example, in Tuesday’s lesson two students who rarely speak earned a ‘credit’ towards their confidence badge as they spoke out voluntarily in class. They need 10 credits to earn their badge.
It’s an evolving project and the first time any of us have done this, so of course we are all learning along the way. Every single student has designed something creative and original in their badge and it been a great way of getting the students working together, encouraging their creativity, collaboration and critical thinking skills.
This has been one of the best projects I have ever taught in terms of the positive reaction from the pupils and the ongoing benefits. Anecdotally I have noticed a huge difference in the students’ independence, willingness to ask questions and collaborate. The process has encouraged them to work together, obtaining regular feedback and striving to improve their work. I’m going to be getting some analysis from the students and will publish the results when I have them.
Furthermore, producing a badge that others will earn has no doubteldy contributed to motivation and a desire to produce a high standard of work and I hope the ability to earn their own and peer’s badges will of course encourage the behaviours that the badges reward! It’s a shame we are not able to use the Mozilla backpack at the moment, due to the students being under 13, however Mozilla I know are looking at ways of resolving this, so I’m certainly hoping in the future we will be able to try open, rather than digital badges.
Meanwhile we’re going old school with a document table for the, to track but I intent for them to use a Google site later this term to be able to keep their badges and best work on – eportfolio style (similar to Carrie-Ann Philbin’s work with her classes). I’m also looking at getting some stickers made. I think seeing their work printed out and stuck in their peers homework diaries would be pretty cool. in I’ll continue to update you on how the tracking / monitoring works towards the end of term, however for now I am looking forward to awarding some badges to my very well-deserving students!
Also, do check out James Michie and Duncan MacLeod’s work with their respective students – both are very generous with their ideas and undertaking some excellent student-centred work involving badges.
Share & Track
Start earning / collecting badges!
So, for the past week I’ve been introducing Open Badges to my Year 7 classes and thought I’d share my experiences.
I really wanted the students to get involved in deciding what badges should be awarded. The questions we used for discussion were:
The discussions surrounding those 3 questions were quite enlightening, as shy students who had not said a word during the previous 2 week’s lessons, shared their achievements outside school and as the penny dropped that these were badges outside ICT competencies – teamwork, creativity, volunteering etc, the enthusiasm of the class noticeably increased.
The students are going to come up with the criteria for awarding the badges – we briefly discussed the need for them to be challenging yet achievable.
They will also design the badges themselves. We are undertaking a Graphic Design project and so, getting the students to design their own badges. This serves a few purposes, not least because it kicks off learning about the principles of good design (essential for other projects such as web and games design), but further involves the pupils which in turn, I hope, encourages them to earn their badges and those designed by their peers.
Giving the students some ownership over the badges they can earn and what their badges will look like is important. As an adult I know that if I am involved and I think my opinions count, then I am overall more likely to feel part of the group. I want my classes to be inclusive places of learning and so far, I am learning as much (if not more) than my students. I’m very happy with that.
Week 2: Pupils have been working in small groups on their badge designs and have come up with some impressive ideas!
Martin’s pupils have also been coming up with their own ideas and criteria – very cool!
You might also be interested to know that my pupils are particularly keen on the idea of having physical badges as well as the ‘virtual’ ones. After some discussion on Twitter (it seems Martin is having the same discussion with his class), stickers might be the way forward. I’ll keep you updated!
Update: 9th November
Having decided upon one final design for their badges (after getting feedback from the rest of the class), students have been working on the awarding criteria, learning how to use Adobe Fireworks and transferring their paper designs into a graphic design.
The awarding criteria took some discussion, as students worked to communicate what they wanted people to do to get their badge in a simple, easy to follow way. Again, this was a great exercise as they really had to think about how we could monitor progress. For example, how do you decide when someone has ‘listened carefully every lesson’. They were all in agreement that their badges should be a challenge to achieve, with some teams coming up with a levelling system, so you could achieve different levels of their badges along the way to keep up motivation. We tried to make it very simple – how will you know that it’s time for you to collect your badge / how will I know when a badge needs to be awarded.
Students also decided that the easiest way to monitor the badges was to have a chart, where they could monitor their progress and know when it was time to receive their badge (this also makes it much easier for me to monitor!).
Again, the fact that the students, with some guidance initially from me, then from their peers, came up with the criteria themselves has been important for their sense of ownership over their badges and I’m really impressed with the way they have developed an abstract concept into, in most cases, easy to follow bullet points – another great skill.
It was then time to get going with the design of the actual badges. Rather than jump straight into the badges, we spent half a lesson designed an Angry Bird with Fireworks first, using this image as a guide, as the Angry Bird has been constructed from a series of basic shapes, manipulated using the software’s tools. This was both a great deal of fun and helped the students to consider what techniques they now knew that they could use when designing their badge.
The main techniques we covered were: creating shapes and changing their properties, using the sub-select and free-form tools to manipulate shapes, adding straight and curved lines, adding text, using the attach to path and punch-path tools.
The students will spend another lesson designing their badges, and so far I’m really impressed with the graphics I’ve seen and how they are solving issues they encounter along the way, often working together to solve a problem rather than waiting for me to be free.
This entire project is helping students to think creatively, work together to solve problems and I am very much looking forward to getting their badges finished and used in the classroom (I already have a few I need to award!). So the next update should be sharing their final designs!
Image by Semonuxe