Monday, March 10, 2014

Scouting the Future

The Slice of Life Story Challenge runs every day in March.
Thanks to Anna, Beth, Betsy, Dana, Stacey,
and Tara at Two Writing Teachers 
for hosting. 

My son is working on an interview project for school that demanded a tour of my childhood scrapbook. Flipping through the pages for stories, I came across my Girl Scout's sash. I belonged
to the Citrus Council and though I'd say I didn't earn too many badges, I was tickled by the ones I did see. I may need a Girl Scout Handbook to decode the sash nearly thirty years later. 
Do you remember what these badges?

The badges got me thinking about how online spaces, learning environments and  games-- Mozilla's Open Badge initiative-- have used badges as a motivator and a representation of learning.  I need to read more Gee , more McGonigal, more Hattie.  I'm curious about the gaming potential for learning and achievement in my high school English classroom.

I am generally a "good work is it's own reward" sort or in this case reading is its own reward, but there is something (challenge, choice, autonomy, responsibility) to setting learning goals, achieving them and marking them with a badge. I built story and experience and identity and  community earning badges as a Girl Scout. The sash got me thinking, so today I shared the tip of my thinking with students. I told them to play with it for five minutes and talk, draw and or come up with badges for readers. They came up with all sorts of badges.

I questioned myself for a minute though and thought, is that reading for a reward? I want students to read for pleasure, to read to pursue a passion, to read because they are driven to story. But then I realized that even readers like a challenge. Donalyn Miller's #bookaday and book gap challenges came instantly to mind as badge worthy today.

My favorite moment came in conversation when one small group recommended genre badges. Andrew said something like, "you could get badges for action books or classics or dystopian novels..." which led to Yesenia's idea of having badges for each series, "Like a  Hunger Games badge." Which got me thinking about how even within a series or genre readers could earn behavior or theme-specific badges: a Mockingjay badge for activism or loyalty, a district 19 badge for energy conservation. Students said they could earn badges for book talks or book reviews or exceeding page goals.

The bubble of badge talk made the room bright with creative ideas. And their conversations was a good check of our reading values (but that's another story). Today's story is the  worth the five minute detour from our agenda . Then, of course, we settled in to spend some time reading.

Epiphany badge, reading knight and reading voyage badges

Super reader

Book worm


  1. Detours are sometimes the most memorable times in a classroom. Being willing to break for a little bit from the routine and do something else is good for all - teachers and students.

  2. Interesting how excited they were. Do you think the badges might mean more than grades? Did they wonder how they would display them (a la the sash)? I am imagining all sorts of possibilities, but I wouldn't want to be in charge of the record-keeping, would need to be on the honor system. You've intrigued me, Lee Ann, but I too still think reading is its own reward. Let us know how this evolves!

  3. I love the idea of reading badges, and that "the bubble of badge talk made the room bright with creative ideas." What a wonderful place to learn! Thank you for sharing this peek into your classroom.

  4. Genre badges...what an awesome idea! And those sketches look great, Lee Ann.

  5. Hmmm... what a fun idea! I love that you let your students take it & run with it!!! :-) This is definitely something to think more about... wouldn't it be fun if a site like Goodreads would add something like this?!

    1. Yes our a site of our own design with student-created badges : )

  6. a good idea...we are collectors of patches, pins, books, things...what an artful way to build a reading identity

  7. I like that the students were generating so many ideas and not it being forced upon this (not that you would force it upon them).

  8. It's so revealing to see what kids thought might be "badge-worthy." I think it speaks volumes about their perception of what are meaningful goals to set as readers.

  9. I love this idea and love seeing your sash. I occassionally think of my sash and am so sad that I don't know where it is. My mom may have it somewhere, but more likely, it's been lost in all the moves. For me, the "doing" is the reward, but a badge is recognition and reminder. I think that's why I get pins when I go places. They are the same as badges to me - reminding me of where I've been and what I've done. And as much as I forget things that I read, and like to participate in challenges, I think reading badges is a great idea!