The Reasons For Using Student Badging, The Process, Examples!

@mgarcia , @brent.hall & I are starting our student badging reading group by exploring the reasons for using student badging, what the process looks like, and examples of different badging systems that educators have created! We invite you to explore the resources below and join us in discussing any of the follow up questions.


Here’s a short video and summary that I think does a great job of showing why student badging is an awesome practice and tips for getting started…

The process of student badging (setting it up, informing students, awarding badges) can look different in each classroom. Here’s a couple interesting examples I found:

Follow Up Questions

  1. The presenter in the video above, mentions that badges should be awarded for attaining specific skills rather than knowledge. Do you agree? Why? Why not?

  2. What does student badging look like in your classroom? Or, what examples have you seen?

  3. What do you think about the idea of having a school/district wide student badging system? Would you like to see it in your own school/district? If so, what would you want the badges to be awarded for?


I think that you can have both. On one hand if we think of the badges as a demonstration of mastery of a concept they provide “tangible proof” that you have learned that concept, akin to the I can statements that were in vogue a couple of years ago (at least in my district). On the other hand badges can be used again as proof that you have aquired a skill which you may have demonstrated across multiple concepts. So there can be a badge for “I can add integers” as well as a leadership badge because you have taken the role of leader and developed those skills (not the best examples, but what popped in my head right now.


In my classroom I have content badges awarded for proficiency across several assessments. So the meteorologist badge, for example is awarded for having scored 90% on all assesments (the assessments are not only tests, they also include our projects and blogs). I have a couple of leveled badges for assignments repeated over time. I used to have badges for soft skills, but those for me were harder to track and eventually disappeared.


While I like Aurora’s badging system and according to the student testimonials it works, I often think that district wide initiatives like this one only work if implemented with stric guidelines and with everyone’s buy in. Much like badging in boys or girl scouts. The issue I’ve seen in my district where, while we do not have badges we have a “student of the month” thing, is the lack of those guidelines and the pressure to give student A a certificate simply because he/she has not gotten one this year. When everyone gets one eventually, without any measurable demonstration of the skill, they become meaningless.


I agree AND I think there SHOULD be both types of badges awarded. Everyone has something they are good at and there should be enough badges for students to earn at least a handful before the end of the term. I will be focusing on content area badges for math class, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t award ‘surprise’ badges for things like Showed Integrity, Peer Tutor, or First to Return Parent Signature. I think the basic ideas behind badges is to award badges for behaviors you WANT the students to achieve or skills that you WANT to see the students exhibit.

I know I will have a hard enough time tracking everything else that’s ‘badgeable’ so my soft skill badges will be randomly awarded, most likely targeting my students who struggle with math so they feel success while they are building skills for a math badge.

I have created badges based on math concepts for the Algebra 1. Badges are earned by earning 70% or better mastery on 1, 2 or 3 specific concepts (2-5 concepts make a test).

I’ve also created a series of badges to go with my XP multipliers (for my gamification) that students earn by mastering any 2, 5, 8, 10, and 12 concepts (out of 18 for the semester).

My daughter’s elementary school has ‘tags’ (skinny 0.5"x3" patches attached to a key ring) instead of digital badges. These tags are awarded for perfect attendance, reaching AR goals, drug free, caught doing something good, birthday, no bully zone, respect, and grade level recognition. Each grade level has a different set of tags that they earn starting in Kindergarten. Students proudly display them on their backpacks.

A former middle school where I taught gave each student a lanyard with a clear ‘card’ pocket. Students earned little awards that they put inside the pockets. (Attendance, subject area awards, A and B honor roll, etc). The principal would randomly announce a particular award at the end of the day, after announcements, so that students with those awards could be dismissed a few minutes early. Teachers were also able to randomly choose students to leave class a minute early. The kids really liked it.

I think district-wide badging would be difficult, but school-wide or within a grade-level is highly do-able. I’m hoping that my students will be motivated by the badges in my classroom next year.


I agree that both types of badges can be used. There needs to be attainability since success breeds success but caution to not badge everything, particularly in older grades, as it loses its value.



Exactly! Success breeds success is my mantra. That’s why I build my concepts step by step. I can have anywhere from 2-10 Formative assignments for one concept. Not only do I catch errors quicker (since each ‘step’ is focused around a specific step in the math process), but it allows for more opportunities for success. My main goal is for students to see a lot of ‘green’ before they hit their first ‘red.’

There need to be enough that everyone is capable of earning a few badges, but at the same time, badges don’t mean anything unless the student has to work for them. The value comes from knowing you worked to get it. :slight_smile:


I agree! I think when I initially heard the presenter say that badges should be awarded for attaining specific skills rather than knowledge, I assumed he meant knowledge as being information about things and how they work. That being said, I now think he meant knowledge in the broader sense of encompassing not only that but the skills that go with the learning of concepts. So perhaps what he meant is we should be specific about what we are awarding badges for so that students can contextualize and “own” them (similar to “I can…” statements). I think that both of the examples you mentioned are aligned are strong examples of htis :slight_smile:

I agree with you and @mgarcia that district-wide badging would be difficult. I think Mariana’s example of “Student of the Month” speaks to the need for badges to have specific criteria for students to understand and invest in. I really like the idea of collaborating with other teachers to have a consistent badging system on a smaller scale like you mention. As an additional idea, I think a subject-specific badging system could be really interesting across grades (Ex: 6th-8th grade). If the badges follow students to the next year, it could help the subject-area teachers communicate about student achievement and also help the students get a better sense of their cumulative growth. It could also support mastery learning, growth mindset, and the perspective of having not attained a skill…YET.

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Wow, I never thought of badging that way. It would be perfect for intervention and knowing what students have mastered and areas for remediation (RTI). Of course, managing all those badges and allowing current teachers to see past and present badges would be the difficulty.


Exactly. Badges have to mean something otherwise everyone gets a badge just for showing up (Though I do have one for that as they join our program).
In the schoolwide program I mentioned, I was approached by a colleague who is friends with the mom of a particular student letting me know how that student had never gotten student of the month (in the 4 years she had been there). The conversation turned to how student was really bummed about it because all her friends had gotten one. As she is telling me all this things I’m thinking and eventually stated in much kinder words, “perhaps she (the student) should do something to earn the recognition and not just expect one because she has been here for a long time”.


I agree that this would be super cool, though the management piece, as you state, becomes a bit of a nightmare.


I have used badging with my ELs more as a reward for competing certain activities. I like the idea of badging for attainment of skills and will consider that for the upcoming school year. I have created badges for my students when they complete a certain number of Flipgrid videos or have read a certain number of independent articles on Newsela. I do believe that badging can be done school-wide or even district wide but would require a some initial leg work. Here is an example:

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Hi! I’ve known Rachel for over 20 years & our classrooms are about 1 minute away from each other! :grin: I’m sure she’d love to chat or answer any Qs that people have about badging.

  1. I think badges for skills rather than knowledge makes sense when introducing a badge program. It levels the playing field for all students to feel successful. Once the program is a norm for students I think it’s advantageous to have both types. I really like the progression to a Summit Badge in one of the examples.
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I agree district wide would be difficult. There would need to be buy in from all for it to work even school-wide successfully because some may not follow the guidelines as strictly as others or “not have time” then the program is more detrimental than helpful. Grade level would be where I would start.

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I like the idea of using badges for milestones like these ones. I think it encourages students to not only attain skills, but practice/reinforce/improve upon them over time!


I’m very intrigued by digital badging, but have not done it yet. District-wide, I think it would be a good incentive for the staff members! :slight_smile:

I teach WL and use Duolingo in which they earn badges on that platform.

For class, I would like to do badges for Integrity, Cheerleader, and attainment of skills. Summer is an invigorating time and I feel I can do anything…I"m concerned how to handle badging with 100+ students


I like how you plan on focusing on soft skills for badges. Something that might help with managing this process and ensuring that the badges hold weight is having the students themselves submit evidence that they’ve earned them. This could come in the form of a submitted anecdote. You could even consider having students nominate each other for badges as well. These ideas were spurred by checking out Rachel Murat’s resources (which I shared in my initial post above).

If you were to use any of these strategies I think what’s really essential is ensuring that the students are incentivized to earn the badges. You could have different levels of badges and each level that the student unlocks could afford specialized opportunities for learning and new roles in the classroom. For example, you could have students earn the ability to specialize their focus in a particular learning topic or become a “Badge Issuer” (also from Rachel Murat’s badging page).

Those are just a few thoughts for now! In Week 3 of our reading group, we are going to be delving into how to make badging more efficient :slight_smile:


I like the idea! Our district has a badges program for professional development of staff. I would love to start it in my classes.

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