Let’s face it. Most students will find a subject that, no matter how hard they try, they just won’t get an A in. And while grades are a measure of what students know, and an important measure at that, for students who struggle, they seem unattainable, at least for certain subjects.
Enter badges, or as some call them, micro-credentials. Every student, regardless of final grade, learns skills in a unit that add up to skills in a class. Why not recognize those skills? For example, in my previous days of teaching ninth grade literature, Romeo and Juliet was a major unit in the Spring. During that unit, they learned drama terms, iambic pentameter, and the complex language and hidden meanings of the bard.
Had I known about badges then, I could have awarded one for each of those skills. And I don’t just believe in fluff! They would have had to complete a related assignment to prove their knowledge of that skill. Imagine how empowering that would be for a student–to know that they could learn parts of the whole and work toward the whole, but that their efforts wouldn’t have resulted in disappointment at the end of the unit. In the words of Cher, “If I could turn back time.”
In addition to Shakespearean language, which might not have as many practical applications as some other ideas, badges can be awarded for job skills in career-related classes in our high schools. I have one brother in graphic design and another on the programming side of the computer science field. My goal is to possibly connect some design/comp sci students with someone in the “real world” who could review their employable skills and award micro-credentials that would hold weight when they apply for jobs and internships after school ends. Badges aren’t just for fluff. They are for the latent skills not often rewarded by the traditional school experience.
Have I piqued your interest on badging? Check out this video on the basics. I would love to help you begin badging in your classroom, so leave a comment. Also, this post is the second in a series. Check out this post about my gamification passion and integrating avatars into the classroom.
With Tech and Twang,