A few weeks ago I had the privilege of speaking at the 2015 Technology in Action Conference (TIA) held in Denton, Texas. The conference is always great and led by a stellar team in Denton ISD. It’s a local conference for me, and a great time to connect with other educators in my area. During my time there, I noticed something outside the teachers’ doors: badges! I had heard about this amazing, gamified professional development plan implemented in Denton ISD, but to see the badges outside the door really brought it home. I snapped the picture below that day and posted to Instagram and Twitter. It became a very popular share, and other friends were asking me for more information and links. So I decided to highlight my friends in Denton ISD in this post, AND their fantastic idea!

Gamification and the use of badges is nothing new, and many of us have found ways to use these in adult learning and professional development. In my experience, teachers love badges! The Instructional Technology Team in Denton ISD, (Dwight GoodwinRoss GarisonLeslie Taylor and the other amazing team members), created a Google Site of self-directed PD for teachers. Through this program, teachers are rewarded for stepping outside their comfort zones with fun badges to display outside their classroom door.

The Badge Website

The first thing that teachers see when visiting the website is the video below, a creative little Powtoon to explain the purpose and process of the badges.

Badge Site Introduction Video

How it Works

Denton ISD PD Badges

From here, the teachers have CHOICE in their learning. They can choose from topics around Google, Apple, Assessment, Communication, Miscellaneous, Flipped Class and Social Media. Within each section, they can choose what they want to learn AND how they want to learn it: through a self-paced course or video, or they can request a face-to-face training. Voice and choice make this a powerful, differentiated professional learning experience.

What I love is that they didn’t reinvent the wheel. They linked to online courses in the Google training center, and video tutorials that are already out there. That makes something like this so much more doable! And considering how fast technology changes, we have to share our resources! Share is caring, right?!

The Badges

The badges for each option have to be earned and applied for individually. These badges were created with Google Drawings, one of my favorite Google tools. (Check out my infographic on 10 Ways to Use Google Drawings in the Classroom.) Badges do not have to be complicated and time consuming; they just need to reflect the accomplishment! Looking for other options for badges? See my post on 5 Awesome Resources for Badges in the Classroom.

The other thing I absolutely love about this program is that teacher badges are printed and displayed outside their door! No one ever said badges had to be displayed digitally. I love this because the accomplishment is recognized by other teachers and staff, and I’m sure the students notice these as well! (FYI, I’m also a big fan of printing badges for students. They can be displayed on a bulletin board, the cover of their notebook or locker!)

This professional learning idea can quickly transfer to the classroom with student-centered challenges and badges. Make it meaningful and be sure it is aligned to your learning goals. It’s a win-win!

The bottom line: Choose what works for you. If you spend all your time reinventing the wheel and designing the perfect badge, you will never get it done! Go for it!

Tweet: If you spend all your time reinventing the wheel and designing the perfect badge, you will never get it done! Go for it! – @ShakeUpLearning

What are you favorite strategies to shake up professional development? Please share in the comments below!

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