Tag Archives: Inquiry Based Learning

Use Badges to Create Self Paced Learning Experiences

The following blog post was written by Julie Randles for ISTE’s EdTekHub. The original post can be found here.

Awarding badges is more than a way to recognize student accomplishments. For educator Michele Haiken, badges also offer a way to give students a self-paced learning experience.

“I looked to my gaming experience and I borrowed the idea of badging as I re-examined my curriculum to find ways that students could work independently and in a self-paced environment to meet learning targets,” says Haiken, a teacher at Rye Middle School in New York.

And with that new benefit in mind, Haiken was hooked.

For teachers ready to try badging to allow students to demonstrate concept, standard or skill mastery, or to give them a self-paced learning experience, Haiken offers these on-ramps:

Consider reversing curriculum design. Haiken found the best way to get started with badging was to “backward design” some of her curriculum. She started with her targets for students by semester’s end – say meeting Common Core standards or her own standards – and then created self-paced learning projects.

She took this approach in both an English class and a speech and debate elective, making the first 10 weeks of class self-paced and requiring students to complete three badges by the end of the quarter. It all began with asking herself what she wanted students to be able to do in 10 weeks and what smaller pieces could she create that show evidence of learning?

Revise or re-rig. If the backward design approach is too much to bite off, Haiken suggests revising current curriculum to include opportunities for students to master learning levels to earn badges.

She took this approach for a dystopian reading unit where all students were reading different novels. The entire class met to discuss broad themes in all dystopian novels, but when students met in smaller reading groups or worked independently, Haiken provided badge-based activities that let her know individual students understood the texts they were reading.

Build in opportunities for reflection and revision. Adding badging into the learning mix is a great way to encourage students to slow down, understand concepts and use old knowledge to build new knowledge.

It’s also a good way to address the 2016 ISTE Standards for Students, which expect students to use technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving and demonstrating competency in their learning goals.

In her speech and debate class, Haiken asked students to look at models and mentors for public speaking – think John F. Kennedy or Martin Luther King Jr. – and reflect on what the two men were doing as public speakers, asking “What can I take away from that?”

Students used the knowledge they gained from that reflection to created their own speeches, and earn their next badge.

“I would send notes through Google Classroom so they could revise or improve; so it wasn’t one and done and their work showed a synthesis of old knowledge and new knowledge.” Forcing students to improve their work before they could earn the next badge helped drive home the importance of revision and reflection.

Try badges for motivation. Badges can also help create a positive classroom culture. Consider awarding badges to students who have gone above and beyond as “super helpers” or to encourage acts of collaboration, character and citizenship.

Educators interested in learning more about how to use badges to recognize mastery and achievement can join Haiken for the ISTE Professional Learning Series webinar “Improving Student Achievement with Classroom Badges” on April 26.

Participants will:

  • Hear about badging ideas, criteria and ways to organize them in their classrooms.
  • Get resources for designing and distributing digital and physical badges.
  • Learn how other educators are using badges across content areas and grade levels.

ISTE members can sign up now for the ISTE Professional Learning Series that includes the webinar “Improving Student Achievement with Classroom Badges.” Not a member? Join ISTE today.

 

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Fostering a Sense of Wonder by Reading Across the Content Areas

June is the end of the school year, time for me to clean out my classroom, and through the cleaning process, reflect on the school year. I think about what were the successful classroom activities and assessments that my students completed? What lessons can I revise? What can I do better for next year?

Looking through some teaching notebook, I came across my notes from 2010 workshop on literacy in the content areas I attended at Teachers College, Columbia University.   The keynote speaker, Dr. Hubert Dyasi,  science education professor at City University of New York spoke about science as inquiry, not something that is done in solitary confinement.  He defined “inquiry” as the gateway to scientific study of the phenomena of nature.  The idea behind his presentation was to cultivate and nourish student curiosity and a sense of wonder.  

This idea is not just specific to science educators, the idea of cultivating student curiosity applies to all content areas whether you teach social studies, English, or math.  All teachers want to foster a sense of wonder and make real world connections with their content.  When we look closer at each content area, the skills that educators want students to obtain are the same, it is the class material that differs.

What reading skills do we use across the content areas?

Connect to prior knowledge

Questioning

Predicting

Inferring

Supporting claims and providing evidence

Synthesizing 

Visualizing

Building vocabulary in content

Cause and effect

Retelling in our own words

Recalling

Sequencing

Across the content areas all teachers need to focus on reading to help students learn to read and understand class materials.  Teaching reading should not go away in upper elementary and middle school. And yet, students are doing most of their reading in these grades at home and on their own.  Teachers need to bring back reading in their classroom and help students understand, interpret, and analyze multiple texts.

As I look ahead to another school year I think about ways to strengthen students’ reading comprehension and understanding. I want my students to own the information being taught, pursue their questions that arise from learning, and give a real purpose to the projects they create. 

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