04 June 2013

ClassBadges.com and Standards-Based Grading

The badge art I uploaded.
 Kids LOVE competing, right?

What I appreciate about the grading reform away from A-F that we've seen the last several years is that there is less comparison between letter grades amongst students and more emphasis on "what do you know?" More students have a chance to be the "smart" ones because their failure on Standard X does not always mean they will fail on Standard Y, which traditional letter grades can suggest and sometimes lead to.

However, standards based grading can get a little black-and-white cut and dry sometimes, and kids can get overwhelmed by charts, so why not gamify your students' standards growth and get your kids to compete with each other than against?

This summer I was "strongly encouraged" to use Accelerated Math, a system we use mainly for intervention during the school year. AM is an adaptive, differentiated learning system that links in with the STAR assessments which everyone in the district uses for benchmarking. I'd been previously trained on AM, but never actually used it myself, but one thing I'd remembered from my colleagues' feedback was that AM is a great program for kids that can set goals, kids that can pace their work, and kids that can monitor their own on-task behavior. As I mentioned in my last post about summer school, these are not usually qualities I see in my students, so to mitigate the summer being a total disaster for 3/4 of my class, I decided to use classbadges.com to track their objective mastery (and other, more PBIS-type accomplishments as well.)

Above you'll see all of the badges I created to award to the students. Technically our program this summer is "credit recovery," so they need only to get 60% or higher (the black token) on the objectives I assign in Accelerated Math, but I knew some kids would work harder to get better badges (just like someone might spend hours getting a certain achievement in a video game), so I made the grey "master" badge for 80%, and the gold "expert" badge for 95% scores on an objective.

I'm still going to work on more traditional goal-setting with my students, and today's early results with the Pomodoro Technique were positive, but these badges were a fun way to give a few kids an extra, whimsical incentive.