Digital Fail


Use of technology for this project we started out with computers and a badging platform. Of course, I was shooting for redefinition/ transformation. Here’s the thing with badging, for some students the experience was mere substitution. They selected a badge to pursue, and in this case, it was a genre of a book for most. Then they had to report on the book. Or in badging terms, they had to submit evidence of learning.

For one student,  pursuing badges – being motivated to learn about a new genre through pursuit of earning a digital badge – this experience was an example of  a new learning experiences, made possible by current technology (digital badges).

  Becasuse he wanted to earn more digital badges than his peers, he was willing to explore aspects of literature he otherwise would not have. This was the case for a few other students, as well. They saw the badge on the platform, decided to pursue that badge, and then learned about a genre of a book that they otherwise might not have.

To demonstrate their learning students had to choose a way to show what they read. So, for this part of the project the skill I focused on most was communication. Students had to communicate their knowledge of the book, using technology (app,podcast, written response on a blog) and they had to submit that on badgecraft.

Some students hit the ball out of the park first thing, writing a blog-like entry on badgecraft, but most students struggled with submitting any kind of work on the platform. So I gave them the option of submitting the work directly to me. Once the work was submitted, I checked for two things:

  1. Did you communicate the genre of the book to the audience clearly?
  2. Did you state your opinion about the book clearly?

One students simply drew (or copied) the cover of a book. This was a teachable moment on copyright and original thought, even though he did a marvelous job tracing! So, the next time he chose to write a letter from one character to another. This demonstrated written communication skills, higher level thinking, and the ability to adapt. I showed them that copyright video we all know and love.

Active Learning  

The whole idea of badging is that it is independent learning. Learning is student centered, as they choose which badge (learning goal) to pursue. Students make all the decisions, and I was there to guide them. Some students didn’t want to read books, outside of what they were used to. In other words, they enjoy their comics and don’t want to be bothered with anything else. While, I love their enthusiasm for graphic novels, I wanted to inspire them to do something new and different. So I created badges connected to the learner profile. They could earn a “courageous/risk taker badge” if they tried to read something new – anything. A few kids liked the idea of learner profile badges, and so this blossomed into a whole new area I hadn’t anticipated.

The IB’s learner profile badges could be earned, if students could communicate clearly how they brought that profile to life in the library.

Many of our students are ELLs. So, really, this ended up being a great way for kids to converse with me, other teachers, and each other. It wasn’t about books all the time. It could have been about helping tidy up with a friend or making a book recommendation (caring) to a friend. Some kids wanted to help put books back on the shelf as a way to demonstrate caring. Some students demonstrated their ability to reflect by making suggestions on way to improve the library. If a student submitted a suggestion, that was proof enough to earn that badge.

Classroom Management

As pointed out in the my video, we had some real problems with the digital aspect of this project. In retrospect, I’m happy I made the decision to go to the physical badges when we did. Students were clearly struggling. I saw that, and made the change. No fault to me or my students, but some kids just didn’t get on board with this idea of badging. I think it had to do with the fact that some kids love the library for being a place of personal discovery, quite mindfulness, etc, and they’ve got enough being thrown at them throughout the day. And because of the context of my position, at the moment, I wasn’t in a good position to collaborate with other teachers. Ultimately, that led to making this project difficult. All in all, though, I’m glad that I didn’t fight the digital aspect of this project, and made the change.

School Technology Standards (or ISTE NETS)

Students use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.
Learners develop and satisfy personal curiosity by: 1. Reading widely and deeply in multiple formats and write and create for a variety of purposes. 2. Reflecting and questioning assumptions and possible misconceptions. 3. Engaging in inquiry-based processes for personal growth.
Learners develop through experience and reflection by: 1. Iteratively responding to challenges. 2. Recognizing capabilities and skills that can be developed, improved, and expanded. 3. Open-mindedly accepting feedback for positive and constructive growth

The feedback component, using sticky notes, was the best part of the project for kids. I had planned to do this on badgecraft, but the sticky notes ended up being pretty potent. As you can see in the video, kids were really excited to give and receive feedback from each other. That feedback was much more impactful than my feedback. For example, several students encouraged a girl to improve her spelling in one of her book reports. She did it immediately because she was embarrassed. I never suggested it because I’m ok with phonetic spelling, but, hey, her peers ended up making her better.

Authentic Assessment

My assessment of student work could not have been more “real world” or authentic. Some students didn’t participate at all. And that’s OK. This was a suggested project. Just like things in life are merely suggested often. Especially awesome things like learning and reading: It’s not forced. It’s suggested.  Those who took part in it, had fun, learned about different books, learned about different ways to report on books. Nobody was forced – just like in real life. Kids got out of it what they put into it.

Copyright (see above story about tracing)

Visual Literacy

Most of the responses students gave about their books came in an artistic way. Students chose to represent stories (see video for evidence) by drawing a scene from the story, or recreating something from the story. Students took their drawings and then had to communicate the meaning of their drawing to either me or one of their peers. There was so much enthusiasm for this part of the project. In the future, I may adapt this to simply being a project about responding to literature through visual creation and visual literacy.

Student feedback

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