Chapter 3: Creating Portfolio-Worthy / Badge-Worthy Tasks

This post is part of the online study group and discusses Chapter 3 of David Niguidula’s book Demonstrating Student Mastery with Digital Badges and Portfolios, published by ASCD.

Essential Questions:

  • How do students earn the badges?
  • What goes into the portfolio?
  • How do we create portfolio-worthy tasks?

Here is where badges and portfolios become real.

Setting the vision of a graduate (Chapter 1) and defining the badges (Chapter 2) are critical to establishing the overall direction. Now, though, we have to figure out the actual work that students and teachers are going to do.

There are many, many possible tasks that can be used to earn a badge; they can range from the very simple in-class assignment to long-term projects, to anywhere in between. The thing to keep in mind is this: what we want to see is convincing evidence that the student has completed the requirements. This Is what differentiates digital portfolios and badges from traditional transcripts – a reader can look to see what the student actually did to earn the badge.

In looking at many portfolios over the years, students and teachers tend to navigate to the same kinds of tasks. Chapter 3 describes the qualities of these tasks; among those qualities, we know that a task will be “portfolio-worthy” or “badge-worthy” if the student has to put forth some real effort and will involve some level of student choice.

The best place to start is with the assignments that are already being used at your school. At the end of the year, what are the tasks that provide the best evidence – the real indicators of student mastery? What are the students going to remember a year from now?

The concepts of badges and portfolios may be new to many of your faculty. By asking the teachers to start with tasks they are already using, it helps to ground this new initiative in something familiar. The task might need a little tweaking; for example, if students have usually done some kind of presentation for a particular task, it may be helpful to figure out how to record those presentations. Still, the task should be something that the teachers are already comfortable in using.

As schools move forward with thinking about tasks, you may want to incorporate a couple other initiatives you may already be doing.

One is personalization – how can we design our tasks so that students can express their individuality? One great resource for this topic is Allison Zmuda’s Learning Personalized website. Allison and Bena Kallick in their book Students at the Center created a definition of the four personalized learning attributes. The site also has a section on reimagining assignments.

The second is project-based learning (PBL). Projects have been around forever, but recent work has helped to clarify what makes a project a true learning experience. A few resources on this:

So, consider this while you think about your tasks – what kinds of things do you want to see going on in the classroom? Connecting the tasks with the badges has the potential to provide a new kind of incentive for students – and build on the things teachers are already doing.

Let’s talk more about this in the comments – what types of tasks would you include in the portfolios? What tasks would you consider “badge-worthy”?

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