I created a badging system to accompany a curriculum I use for Tier III reading intervention. The Wilson Reading System is a systematic, highly structured program to teaching decoding and fluency. There are twelve steps in the curriculum, each building on previous skills in decoding and syllabication. Students receive a new “student reader” as they move from step to step, and they add sound cards, word cards, and syllable cards to their existing materials. The Wilson Reading System is a multi-sensory, interactive curriculum, but it does not have a digital component. I wanted a way to visually reinforce progress as students move through each step, in a way that might be a little more exciting than getting a new student reading book, and I tried a badge system as a way to accomplish this.
The most user-friendly badging system for my needs was For All Badges, a free online badging system for educators. There is also an iPad app connected with the site that allows me to issue badges to my “class” of students. There are relatively generic badges available within the site, but I instead used Openbadges.me to create my own and then uploaded them into For All Badges. I developed badges for the skills within steps 2 and 3 of the Wilson Reading System (which is where my students are at right now in the curriculum). Students earned badges after demonstrating mastery with a specific reading skill, which I assess in three ways: 1) students define and describe the specific decoding tool, 2) I chart accuracy using the recording system in the Wilson curriculum, and 3) I observe students as they read content-based text at their instructional level, noting accurate use of the decoding skill.
|Badge designer in openbadges.me|
|Badges created for Wilson Level 2|
|Badges created for Wilson Level 3|
I created accounts for each of my students in the For All Badges website, using their Edina google apps email accounts, and when I awarded badges students received an email notification that a badge was awarded. We bookmarked the For All Badges website on their bookmarks bar so it was easy to access when logging onto a chromebook.
I used this badging system with a small group of students in third and fourth grade. They are each working toward grade level standards in language arts but do not yet have the skills to meet those standards. The targeted standards within the foundational skills section of the Minnesota’s reading standards include:
Authenticity of Assessment:
I don't necessarily view this badging system as a stand-alone summative assessment in isolation, but instead as an additional component of the three-part assessment (students describe/define, charting through the curriculum, my observations of students as they read) I already use to measure student progress in the Wilson Reading System. The most authentic component is actually observing students read social studies, science, or language arts texts and noting their ability to decode unknown words using the specific decoding skill we've addressed. It is hard for students struggling with reading to see progress. Skill acquisition is so incremental for them, and while I can see how the small steps lead to larger skills, kids just see more unknown words and more challenging texts and feel like they are never moving forward. The virtual badges are a way for students to visually see their progress as they move through each level in the curriculum.
It was hard for me to create a badging system that truly reflected the potential for individuality in assessment, but I also think it's OK to start off where I am and move forward from there. My current use of badges is very systematic, following the prescribed skills as outlined in the Wilson Reading System. Students move forward step by step, after demonstrating mastery of specific skills. This is how reading works for students with reading disabilities. They need highly structured teaching that unlocks the "secret code" for reading. I know that the most transformational and motivating badge systems allow students to prove proficiency in multiple ways and in a non-prescribed order, but that may be easier to accomplish in other content areas (rather than an intervention curriculum for students with reading disabilities). I do think using badges helped these students stay engaged and focused on making progress in reading over the last two months of the school year. And I can definitely think of some more differentiated ways to incorporate badging into my work next year. Things I'm considering: badges for strategy use in solving math facts (different kids use different strategies, and not all kids need to use all strategies; but the badges would allow students to consider the possibility that there may be more exciting and efficient strategies available to them); badges for components of the six traits in writing (different ways to organize written work for example, or use of describing words). Those things are exciting to me because they can be so personalized.
I think I figured out a relatively easy way for students to access their badges (by bookmarking the site on their chromebooks, sending notifications to their Edina apps email account), but it's definitely not a perfect system. Mozilla's open backpack is a great way for students to keep badges from multiple platforms in one visible space, and For All Badges issues badges that will work within that system, but that's still not a streamlined option for my students. I'm excited about the possibility of issuing badges through Moodle, because that is a common system used across teachers and sites. I have to continue thinking about how to keep badging fun and easy to use for both me and my students, because that in the end will keep us going back for more badges.
(from Flint River Council Boy Scouts of America)