Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Reading for Badges

There has been a lot of buzz around learning through gaming lately in the education community. It makes 100% sense. What do kids all talk about? Video games. What do they all play on their phones? Video games. What do they ask for for birthday gifts? Video games. What do their teachers play when they can't stand thinking anymore? Candy crush. Wait... !

So what is it that is so addicting about games? When you fail, you re-spawn, automatically start back over. It isn't scary. You are also working towards a goal - and you are earning something (anything!) I recently attended a PD workshop and came to the conclusion that I would love to teach through games, but there was no way to develop them myself (coding = scary). So how could I utilize this appeal in my classroom to motivate students?

We use Donalyn Miller's 40 Book Challenge on my team. I have mixed emotions about it because Accelerated Reader scarred me as a child because I was a VERY slow reader. One aspect I love about the challenge though, is the push to explore different genres. I was that kiddo who only read Roald Dahl (whoops). LOVE MATILDA!

Behold, genre badges were born. 

In the 40 Book Challenge students are required to read a certain amount of books in each genre. This CHALLENGE part with a numeric goal, gets the students all sorts of revved up. My serial genre readers last year were forced to explore other worlds, it was awesome. Once a student completes the required number of books for that genre, they earn the badge. They level up. They win. Just like they would in any video game.

I figure the badges will be two-fold in my classroom. On Edmodo you can award students badges, I am hoping this same concept will apply with my students blogs this year. Instead of a brag tag to wear around school, for a 6th grader they would have the "brag tag" mentality as their personal blog sports their genre badges. (After a couple years of trial and error with blogs - I find KidBlog is my go-to).

Visual reminders of success and pride are also very important. I have not quite decided where their  badges will be sported yet, but it will either be on their desktop or perhaps the front of their locker for all to see. After all, multiple books in a new genre is a HUGE success.

The beautiful thing about the 40 Book Challenge and the genre badges is the differentiation can happen in a snap. Create a list for each student that is attainable for them. They will be master readers in no time :) Or at least a little more motivated... take what you can get right?

Let the games begin!

Stay chip free and standards based!

ALSO! Interested in the badges - leave a comment with your email and I will send them on over :)


  1. I am very interested in the badges!! I haven't decided how I want to implement independent reading in my 7th grade classroom yet - but I love the book whisperer and I think the idea of "leveling up" is so motivating to middle schoolers! Thank you SO much for sharing your hard work!

  2. I would love to use your badges. Just what I am looking for!!! Thank you~

  3. Just found your blog and Instagram feed - I love your ideas! I am always looking for other 6th grade teachers to follow. I am in a 1:1 iPad class too! Could I get a copy of your badges? Thank you so much. And if you are ever interested in being blogging buddies with my class (I am in Utah) - let me know. My e-mail is bbcoble@gmail.com.

  4. I love this idea and would love to get a copy of the badges for use in my classroom. rebecca.j.simpson@gmail.com

  5. I would love to have the badges for my classroom. Thanks so much! I love this idea! dgoodwin@cbcsd.org

  6. I would love to have the badges for my classroom. Thanks so much! I love this idea! dgoodwin@cbcsd.org

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  8. I would love them! Just what I'm looking for. lnjames83@yahoo.com

  9. I love your badges! They would work perfectly for my 5th grade reading challenge. Can you please send a copy my way: amanda.lawson@rossrams.com.

    Thank you in advance. :)

  10. PLease send the reading badges. Such a great idea! shelleylcotton@gmail.com

  11. Greetings from Singapore! I love the idea of applying gaming concepts to reading - so fun for a 7th grade ELA class. Please share your badges!

  12. I love this idea! It's 3:15 am on a Summer Tuesday and I woke up thinking about doing badges as a 40 book challenge incentive. Google has led me to YOU! Please share! Thanks, girlie! Your blog is awesome! peartjennifer@gmail.com