Grading, like so much in our educational system, is long overdue for an overhaul. Just in my lifetime, the grading systems of the early 80’s are the same ones we employ on a day to day basis today. While it serves a purpose, it really doesn’t co-exist very nicely with the ideas of individualized or personalized learning, differentiation, and teaching the whole child. Grading simply can’t be the only means by which we provide feedback to students, and while there are a variety of ways to give deeper and more specific feedback, I personally think giving badges is a practice worth exploring.
Think about those students you have taught in your days as a teacher. Think about the varying skills, interests, and abilities they brought in each and every day. Now think about evaluating those varying attributes using the same exact set of expectations each and every day. What might happen if we looked at daily feedback as a way to engage the core of a child in an effort to bring out the best they have to offer, not just an understanding of math facts?
What I love about they idea of badging is that it is so continually open. Grading is closed. We give a test, we score a test, we record the grade, and we return the test. More often than not, that is where the door closes. You were either successful, or you were not. Badging allows you to identify the elements of that make the child a strong learner, and while you can certainly provide instructional, you can additionally award badges for skills, interests, and non-instructional abilities.
Imagine you could tell every kid in your class that you saw much more than a spelling grade. Imagine you show each child you see them for far more than a letter or number grade. Awarding badges can be done in a variety of ways, but when using a learning management system, you can not only award the badges throughout the year, but keep a running record of the growth and strengths each child possesses. I personally love Classflow for awarding badges. In the middle of a lesson delivery, I can look out at a student who is struggling, award them a perseverance badge, and open the door rather than shutting it. I can identify the student might not understand the math problem, but has some great artistic skills, and in time find a way to bridge the two. Drawing math problems might be solution to engagement, all because you build that confidence in other ways. I can award one student a badge, multiple students, or the whole group. I have the ability to create my own badges if I choose, and make it truly meaningful to my classroom culture. The opportunities are endless!
Have you tried badging? Are you considering it? I would love to hear your experiences. Learning together is always better!