"Badges! We don't need no stinkin' badges!
Last year, our grade level decided to try using student badges with our 4th graders as a way of acknowledging student achievements and recognizing positive behaviors. We weren't really sure how the kids would take to it, but we jumped in with both feet anyway and we were glad that we did. The students LOVED earning badges.
Being that this was our first year using them, we didn't know how many badges we would have or how often kids would earn them, Nonetheless, we purchased clear trading card sleeves and special paper with the plan to make some trading card size (3.5 x 2.5 inch) badges. My teaching partner, Mary, had the great idea to purchase 2 x 2 inch coin sleeves also. Our initial thought was that students would keep them in binders that we used for Math.
The 3 x 2 inch sleeves looked like this with badges inside:
The 2 x 2 inch badges looked like this in the sleeves:
Over last summer our grade level team brainstormed some badge ideas. We wanted to develop some for academic achievements as well as for positive behaviors. The academic badges were easy for me to come up with - I just broke my Math standards into general topics such as mastery of basic facts in addition, place value, multiplication of greater numbers, long division, measurement, etc... My math achievement badges looked like this:
Behavioral badges were tougher to come up with at first, but as the year went on we found ourselves coming up with lots of ideas and made nearly half of the total badges throughout the year.
Here are some samples of other badges we made:
|In case you are wondering, students earned the "iron bladder" badge by not having to use their potty pass for an entire quarter. It was also good for a 5 point boost in Class Dojo.|
Students earned badges for successfully completing STEM or team building activities. We also used them as a small reward when class games like Kahoot or Quizizz were won. Kids took a lot of pride in earning them. We even made gold badges for students who won multiple times.
This summer, I started making some badges for Science achievement as I had done for Math. Here are the badges I designed for that.
|Tested objectives have a "4" because that is the highest level of |
mastery in our standards based grading system
FYI: Here's how I stored them:
When the kids mastered a new skill or earned a badge for another reason, they would collect it for themselves, so I didn't need to keep track of them at all.
So, how did I make these badges from scratch?I used Apple Keynote and Pages, but I'm sure the same could be made in Powerpoint or some other programs. If you want to get into the nitty-gritty, watch this "how to" video to see the process I used. Its kinda long, so sorry about that. I tried my best to go quickly while still including all the steps.
So, why do badges work?
If you want more explanation of why badges can be an effective motivational element of classroom gamification, I'd encourage you to read a series of blog posts I made about this topic. Or, if you feel ready to try some broader gamification in your classroom, I highly recommend reading the excellent book by Michael Matera called Explore Like a Pirate. It gave me a lot of inspiration to build upon many things I was already doing in my classroom and take it to the next level. I believe it can help you excite your students about learning and make the experience of school even more fun. Hope there's something helpful for you here. Have a great start to your school year!