Are you looking for a new way to track students’ learning and behavior? Try digital badging. Students will work hard to earn badges, and you’ll know exactly which standards they’ve mastered.
With the new school year approaching way too quickly, I’ve decided that I will post Teaching Tuesday posts to at least get me to start thinking about what I need to do for the upcoming year. I’ve been reading a lot about using “brag tags” as a classroom management system. Students earn little tags that they put on a ring for meeting behavior or academic goals. I really liked the idea, but I didn’t want to spend hours copying and cutting the little tags for this system to work. I started looking for an online alternative and found “digital badging.” The basic idea is that as students complete a task or master a skill they receive a “badge” on the computer. Since we are one-to-one with Chromebooks, I think having my management system on the computer will be great!
Notebook Babies to the Rescue
One of the first things I realized as I read articles about Digital Badging was that I needed an idea for the actual badges. I thought about the hype over Pokemon Go and how much the kids love those characters, but I don’t have permission to use those characters. Then, I realized that there was a solution right here in my own house.
Several years ago, my husband, Tony, created and trademarked a collection of animated characters called Notebook Babies. They have even been featured on Sesame Street, and the students in our classes love them. Tony already uses them as a part of his behavior management system in his fifth grade classroom by printing them on “Strike-Free Passes”. We just ran into a few of his students from 5 years ago, and they said they still have their “Strike-Free Passes” because they were so excited to collect all of the Notebook Babies. This gave me even more hope that digital badging with the Notebook Babies would be a success. You can click on the picture below to check out some of his work. There are even short videos about the characters on his website that will tie in really well with the Digital Badging.
Digital Badging with Google Sheets
Now that I had my characters figured out, I did some more research to figure out how to set up Digital Badging in Google Sheets. Since each of my students has a Google account, I will share their Badge Collections with them. Then, they can just go into their Google Drive to see which badges they earned. I decided that I don’t want students to have the ability to add the badges themselves. I will make the Badge Collection sheets “View Only” so they can see what badges they have, but only I can award the badges. The picture below shows what a student sees in his or her Badge Collection Sheet.
I started by putting all of the characters into my Master Badge List, and then I needed to think about how students would earn the badges. Since the Common Core Standards are driving our instruction, I decided that each character would be matched with a standard. This will allow my students to see which standards they have mastered and where they should continue working. It will also be great when I go to complete our standards-based report cards at the end of the quarter. I won’t have to go back to individual assessments. I’ll be able to see if they earned that badge and mark the report card accordingly. I think that will save me a lot of time.
I also plan to use some of the characters for behavior goals. As students consistently demonstrate the behavior, they will earn those badges. However, if their behavior gets worse, they can lose those behavior badges until they make better choices.
Finally, a few of the last badges are holiday-related, like this adorable one for Valentine’s Day. I plan
to give these special badges to all of the students on the holiday to add some extra excitement. There is also a birthday badge that each student will receive on his/her birthday.
Is Digital Badging Right for You?
Do you want to try digital badging in your classroom? I created Google Sheets that match the standards for third, fourth, and fifth grade. If you would like to check out my Digital Badging with Notebook Babies product, you can click on the link to go to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.
Now my next job is to figure out how to display the badges in my classroom. My plan is to put the characters all around the room. Then, as we address each standard, I will move the character next to the standard and “I can” statement that they need to master to earn the badge. That way when a new badge appears in their Badge Collection, they will be able to check to see which skill they have mastered.
What are your thoughts on Digital Badging? Would you be interested in trying it in your classroom?
Check out some of the other fun activities I’m using in my classroom this year.
Cooking and Learning in the Kitchen
Get the recipe for Banana Bread Sandwiches and three fun, learning activities for FREE!