Last spring, I started to use learning badges in 7th and 8th grade biology and geography. Behind them, there are digital learning badges.
- Digital learning badges are used as a tool for identifying and recognizing learning. They show the person’s skills visually. You can make and grant badges for example, on the Open Badge Factor. A recipient may collect badges for their own digital passport such as Mozilla Backpack and link them to their own CV or social media sites, such as Facebook or LinkedIn.
During this school year in biology and geography in all grades (7th-9th), students’ learning is guided by similar badges. The badges are made of paper, though, and they are glued to the students’ notebooks on the so-called result table. The badges show students’ progress, and not necessarily yet the knowledge of things.
Learning badges are one of the most significant tools for the formative assessment of biology and geography. They are used to recognize any kind of achievement in any stage of learning. Badges are used to build pathways to support students to work towards learning goals. They make learning visible to a student, teacher and custodians.
There are many types of learning badges
Learning badges are easy to make, for example with the Canva application, and they can be modified based on the needs and individual goals of a student. Some of the learning badges (the so-called most serious ones) are clearly related to the contents and skills of the curriculum (e.g. Digital Collection of Organism, Evolution and Ecosystem, Plants, Blood Circulation). Some of the badges are not so serious and their goal is to encourage and motivate students to work and learn and get nice and fun experiences. Perhaps for this reason the most frivolous learning badges are the most desirable ones.
Last spring, there were nearly 150 Poo-Gurus in our school. (the Poo-Guru badge was given to a student when he/she recognized traces of animals well.). Badges can also be given to student for an activity they have done in leisure time. The Adventurer or Hiker badges can be obtained, for example, after a weekend trip with friends or parents.
A student can get a learning badge when he/she has achieved something good. Or for good effort, good work or activity, good results or good skills. Good learning means different things for different students. Thus, the criteria for granting a badge are often very individual and different students can get the same badge with different criteria. It is essential that the student himself/herself knows why and for what reason and criteria he/she gets the badge. There is therefore always some kind of encouraging feedback connected to the giving of badges, which supports and directs the student to individual and optimal learning.
Learning badges motivate students to do their best and learn more
The goal is that the students learn to evaluate what they already know and what should study more about, or what they want to learn more and what to do for good learning. The badges can replace numerical assessment, or they can be used side by side with the numerical evaluation.
The student collects the badges in his notebook’s ”result table”, learning table. Badges made of paper are quick to give and glue to the notebook. The student writes the criteria/reasons why he/she got the badges. In addition to learning badges, the student collects all possible learning outcomes to the table. The results can be grades from homework, tests or stamps and stickers for good co-work, a well-done hourly task, etc. Student follow his Wilma and collect all given markings to his result table.
The result table tells the student about his learning process. If the results do not seem to be good enough for a student, he/she can try again and improve tasks/tests etc. The student can resume a homework or test or perform a task better, etc. With the help of badges and “result table”, the student learns the skills of self and peer evaluation.
The table also allows the teacher to easily recall the stages of learning, working and progressing. It makes it easy to go through assessment discussions and provide feedback on learning. Also, custodians/parents are informed about the progress of a pupil’s learning when the table is showed at home.
Some of the learning badges are in the student’s notebook to start with. The same sheet contains the main contents of the subject and the objectives of learning. When a student has earned a learning badge he will cut it out and glue it on the result table.
Sometimes students get a collection of work and skills-related badges, they can discuss in groups about which badge would be the best for themselves and which would suit their classmates the best. Discussions around the badges have generated good conversations about the strengths of others. Like ”you’re really good in this, this badge belongs to you.”
When the idea of learning badges becomes clear to students, they have also begun to propose things that could give them a learning badge. Learning badges that are already in the sheet In the notebook may encourage the student to acquire it. The notebook is nice to open when you see a collection of colorful learning badges.
Badges make it easy to create situations where to give motivating feedback quickly, clearly and reasonably. They can be used to set goals together with a student (individual goals) or together with a group (common goals).
”Badges make me feel successful”
Written by Emmi and Henna in the spring 2018:
In our school we have learning badges. They are these little patches that you get when you have achieved something. We have them in our biology lessons, but in our opinion, they could be in every subject. Our biology and geography teacher Rita Keskitalo brought this idea into our school.
There are many badges for many reasons. For example, there is one for a gardener, an investigator and a hiker. We can get them on our biology lessons and hopefully soon in geography too. We glue them into our notebooks and write why we think we deserved the sticker. The badges also help our teacher keep up with our work and progress.
Our schools’ students have really liked these badges because they motivate us to work harder and when we get one, it feels like a prize for our hard work. It`s also fun when the badges start to build up, we see them every time we open our notebooks. Overall these little badges are a nice and a fun way to get motivated and to do your best. (https://nordicgo.wordpress.com/badges-and-learning-2/ )