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Badges How to: Using Your Classroom Rubrics to Design a Badge System

Recently teachers and administrators have been asking us for ideas on how to go about implementing badges in their own schools.  In this post, I’m going to describe two approaches for how to take existing classroom rubrics and design complimentary badge systems.  This approach has several advantages:

  • a significant part of the work necessary for designing the badge system has already been done in developing the rubric,
  • teachers can continue to assess students with a proven rubric and
  • the badge system integrates well with the existing learning activities.

Approach 1:  Recognize Skills and Achievements

A primary motivation for Mozilla’s development of Open Badges was in order to recognize skills and achievements that aren’t traditionally recognized.

openbadges

Teachers in areas such as Physical Education, Technology, Special Education and Art are already seeing the value of badges for recognizing their students’ achievements.  This approach is to creating a badge system is demonstrated by Warren Grieve in his ICT Ladders for Badges.  Below is an example rubric he previously developed for evaluating skills with MIT’s Scratch programming language.

Scratch-Rubric

Below are the complementary badges that he designed for ICT Ladders for Badges that correspond to each of the levels of achievement in the rubric.  The criteria for earning a badge is the same as the criteria specified in the original rubric.

basic_scratch_skills_badgeproficient_scratch_skills_badgeadvanced_scratch_skills_badgeexpert_scratch_skills_badge

Like with girl scout badges, this type of badge system provides students a way to:

  • set goals by identifying badges to work towards,
  • reflect on the goals they’ve already reached and
  • share their accomplishments with others.

Approach 2:  Scaffold Learning

A common use for rubrics in the classroom is for supporting student learning and development.  This kind of instructional rubric is typically written in student-friendly language to help students evaluate their own work and improve overtime.  This use of rubrics is well demonstrated by the set of rubrics provided by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to support student learning for effectively solving math word problems.  This set of rubrics includes a scoring rubric for use by the teacher and three age appropriate versions of the rubric for use by students.

The  rubric below is the scoring rubric for use by elementary school teachers to inform instruction.  (click on the rubric for a larger image)

Scoring-Rubric

The  rubric below is the instructional rubric for use by 3rd and 4th grade students to support learning.  (click on the rubric for a larger image)

Student-Rubric

The process of learning how to solve math word problems is an ongoing learning activity and requires a significant amount of practice and feedback.  The student friendly rubric is effective at making it clear to students what the expectations are for this learning activity.

In our design for a set of badges that correspond to ISBE’s student friendly rubric, the first change we made was to convert the “Items for Evaluation”  in the original rubric to “Roles to Achieve” in the badge system as follows:

  • Mathematical Knowledge (Do you know it?) —> Math Wizard
  • Strategic Knowledge (How do you plan?) —> Master Detective
  • Explanation (Can you explain it?) —> Expert Explainer

The second change we made was to eliminate the score of zero.  By its nature, badge criteria is positive.  Although it makes sense to award a score of zero if the student doesn’t attempt an answer.  It doesn’t make as much sense to award a badge for doing nothing.

Below is what our initial badges look like.

Student_Badges

The last change we made was to convert the scoring guidelines to badge criteria by removing negative scoring guidelines, since the negative guidelines are implicitly included in the leveled badges.  Below is the the criteria for Math Wizard badges including the struck out text from the original Grade 3-4 Student Rubric for Mathematical Knowledge.

Level 4 Badge Criteria (the same as for scoring rubric)

  • I get the right answer.
  • I label my answer correctly.
  • I use the right math words to show I understand how math works. (Example: I know when to add or subtract.)
  • I work it out with no mistakes.

Level 3 Badge Criteria (almost the same as for scoring rubric)

  • I do the problem, but I and only make small mistakes.

Level 2 Badge Criteria 

  • I understand a little, but I make a lot of big mistakes.
  • I only give part of the answer.

Level 1 Badge Criteria

  • I try to do the problem, but I don’t understand it.

Level 0 – Badge Criteria (no such badge)

  • I don’t try to answer the problem.

With the development of our badge system, we now have three different views of the assessment that all work well together:

  • the teacher scoring rubric for assessing the student’s progress,
  • the student instructional rubric for understanding the expectations and
  • the student badge system for visualizing the learning path.

ForAllRubrics + Badges

We’re in the process of developing a new version of ForAllRubrics that supports both Rubrics and Badges.  This new version will support a badge design process like what has been described in this post.  It will let teachers complete scoring rubrics and the system will automatically generate the appropriate badges for the students.  The students (and their parents) will be able to view the student friendly rubric to understand the scoring on a particular assignment.  The teacher, the student and their parents can view the student’s awarded badges to reflect on the student’s accomplishments to date and view potential badges for setting goals for the future.

If you’re interested helping us test out our new “ForAllRubrics + Badges” and giving us feedback, please send us an email to info@forallsystems.com and we’ll get you set up.  We greatly appreciate comments and suggestions.

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