Introducing The Adventure Badges

Introducing The Adventure Badges

Ok, I’m super excited about this one! Let’s start at the start:

The Original Responsibility Badges

About a decade ago, I launched a resource called the Responsibility Badges. At the time, I was having a lot of fun using Foursquare which – back then – was a social discovery/check in app.

Foursquare’s original badges.

What I loved the most about Foursquare is that you could unlock player badges as you checked into new/different venues. There was a sense of randomness and delight that came along with unlocking a new badge that made the whole experience so much fun.

I started to think about how I could bring this kind of badge system to my physical education program in a way that would be both fun and useful. At the time, I had been learning more about the Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility (TPSR) model. In case you don’t know, the model helps students develop responsibility through physical activity. It has five levels:

  1. Respect
  2. Participation
  3. Self-Direction
  4. Caring
  5. Transfer (Outside The Gym)

With my love of badges in my heart and my understanding of the TPSR model in mind, I got to work designing badges that could represent observable behaviours from each of the five categories. 

With the badges created, I then made “Profile Sheets” for my students. These were editable Pages documents that I could use to keep track of who had earned which badges. The idea was that students had to earn a certain number of Level One badges in order to unlock access to the Level Two badges.

I shared the Responsibility Badges on the site and teachers loved them. I started using them in my teaching and my students (and their parents) loved them. My admin loved them. Everything was great! Except for one thing:

I hated them.

The badges were a PAIN to manage. Every time a student earned a badge I had to do the following:

  1. Find their Profile Sheet
  2. Add the Badge
  3. Update their Current Level (if needed)
  4. Export the updated Profile Sheet as a PDF
  5. Write an email to their parents to notify them that their kid had unlocked a badge and share their updated Profile Sheet

This system wasn’t scalable: I couldn’t stay on top of it with a couple hundred of students to my name. It also had a lot of flaws as students wound up with multiple Profile Sheets and it wasn’t ever really easy to know which badges a student currently had.

It was all a bit of a mess and, despite the idea being a fun one, I wound up giving up on it. I left the badges up on the site in case teachers wanted to take a swing at it and then kind of forgot about the whole thing.

A New Badges System

Let’s jump forward ten years to the present day. 

I’ve been toying around with the idea of relaunching the badges for a while now. A lot has changed since 2011 and I was feeling confident that I could make the system work now that a) I have better design skills and b) we have access to better technology.

As I got to work redesigning this system, I had a couple of goals in mind:

  1. Create something that would be a fun way to celebrate student “wins”.
  2. Promote personal and social responsibility, social and emotional learning, and the habits of successful learners.
  3. Make this as easy as possible for teachers to manage.
  4. Add in additional social sharing aspects to the system.

After building, tweaking, redesigning, and testing everything out for the last little while, I think I’ve come up with something that meets those goals. Let’s dive in:

The Adventure Badges

The Adventure Badges is a digital behaviour recognition system that I’ve designed to be used in Google Classroom (for now). 

The system is built around digital badges that students can “unlock” by demonstrating specific behaviours in class.

At launch, there are 24 badges available. The number of badges will grow over time, but more on that later.

Each badge has its own rarity rating which is indicated via the colour of the badge’s outer ring. The three rarity levels are : Common (white), Uncommon (silver), and Rare (gold).

The badges are also divided into three categories:

Emotional Badges

Emotional Badges are for those moments in which students successfully navigate their way through all of the emotions that arise when they’re learning. As I designed the different badges of this category, I used CASEL Social and Emotional Learning Competencies as a lens to help guide my work. Badges in this category will therefore be aligned with self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, relationship skills, and responsible decision making.

Responsibility Badges

The Responsibility Badges are there to celebrate those moments in which students make decisions or take actions that help make their class, school, and/or community a better place. Just like the badges I made back in 2011, I used the levels from the Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility model to help inspire me. My idea here is that badges from the early levels (e.g. Respect, Participation) will have a “Common” rarity rating while badges from the later levels (e.g. Self-Direction, Caring, Transfer) will be rated as “Uncommon” or “Rare”.

Learner Badges

Finally, Learner Badges recognize the actions students take to get the most out of each lesson. I based these badges on the Habits of Successful Learners that my students and I worked together on identifying a few years back.

To help teachers, students, and parents get to know the various Adventure Badges, I created an Adventure Badge Guidebook document. This is a view-only Google Slides document that will provide additional information on all of the badges currently available in the game. Each badge’s description is worded in a student-friendly “I can”-style statement.

I’ll continue to update this document as new badges get added and students will always have access to the guidebook.

When a student unlocks a new badge, it gets added to their Adventure Badges Profile.

The Adventure Badges Profile

I built the Adventure Badges Profile in Google Slides so that it could be easily assigned and managed in Google Classroom.

The template has a few customizable/editable components:

Student Information

Once the template has been assigned to each students, students can make their Adventure Badges Profile their own by editing the following elements:

  1. Profile Picture.
  2. Student Name.
  3. Student Bio.
School Branding

The Adventure Badges icon that is featured on the template can be changed to feature your school’s branding. Pro Tip: make this change to your template prior to assigning it to students so that the change appears in all of the copies that are generated when you create the assignment.

Adventure Badges

Adding an Adventure Badge to a student’s profile is simple: 

  1. Right-click any of the default badge icons under the appropriate badge category.
  2. Select “Replace Image”.
  3. From the dropdown menu, select “Upload From Computer”
  4. Locate your Adventure Badge folder on your computer and select the appropriate badge file.

The badge will now be visible on the student’s Adventure Badges profile!

Player Levels

One of the fun components of type of game is the players’ ability to “level up”. 

The idea here is that students can move through a progression of levels as they unlock new badges. At launch, there are four Player Levels: Ruby (Level One), Sapphire (Level Two), Emerald (Level Three), and Diamond (Level Four). Each Player Level is broken down into four steps: Step Zero, Step One, Step Two, Step Three.

Although Player Levels can be really fun, there’s no doubt that this game component adds a level of complexity to what the teacher needs to manage within the system. One of my goals with this redesign was to remove as much friction as possible so that teachers felt confident that they could stay on top of the system. To help with this, I’ve prepared three different versions of how the Player Level feature can be used:

Most Complex: Badge Points

The most complex version of this feature is that students earn points with the badges that they unlock. As players earn more points, they progress through the different levels and steps.

Badge points are assigned based on the rarity of the badges being unlocked. 

  • Common Badges are worth one point.
  • Uncommon Badges are worth two points.
  • Rare Badges are worth four points.

As the teacher adds new badges to a player’s profile, they quickly calculate that player’s current points and update (if needed) the student’s Player Level by:

  1. Right clicking the current Player Level tile.
  2. Selecting “Replace Image”.
  3. From the dropdown menu, select “Upload From Computer”
  4. Locate your Adventure Badge Player Levels folder on your computer and select the appropriate Player Level file.
Less Complex: Number of Badges

If the Badge Points system requires too much work based on the number of students you teach or the amount of time you can dedicate to the Adventure Badges, you can use the Number of Badges system instead.

In the Number of Badges system, each Player Level Step is worth one badge. In other words, a player needs to unlock a badge to move up one step. For example:

  • Ollie starts the game at Ruby – Step Zero.
  • He unlocks his first badge (e.g. Listener Badge). His badge total is at one, so he moves to Ruby – Step One.

This system is slightly less complex as the teacher updates the Player Level each time they add an unlocked badge to the student’s Adventure Badge Profile.

Least Complex: Grade Levels

Ok, so some teachers might want to run with the Adventure Badges but have an absolute minimum amount of time to dedicate to this. In those cases, I’d suggest you skip the Player Levels altogether. 

Instead of using the Gem Levels on the Adventure Badges Profile, I prepare very simple grade-level tiles that you can use instead. 

  1. Right clicking the current Player Level tile.
  2. Selecting “Replace Image”.
  3. From the dropdown menu, select “Upload From Computer”
  4. Locate your Adventure Badge Player Levels folder on your computer, find the Grade-Level Tiles folder within it, and select the appropriate grade level.

Pro Tip: if you’re going to roll with grade levels, be sure to set this up prior to assigning the Adventure Badge Profiles as an assignment in Google Classroom. This way, students won’t ever see the Gem Levels and you’ll have to deal with 1000 fewer questions.

Adventure Badges Guidebook

Finally, students have a way to quickly access the Adventure Badges Guidebook. The yellow button on their Adventure Badges Profile will open up the latest version of the guidebook so that they can learn about all of the different badges that are a part of the game.

Adventure Badges Social Celebration

The last piece I created was a way for you to celebrate students unlocking badges in a visual kind of way.

To make this super easy for you, I created (yet another) Google Slides template. Here is how it works:

  1. Use the “Make a copy” link in the download README file to add the template to your Google Drive.
  2. When you want to create a social celebration graphic, locate and open the template in your Google Drive.
  3. Duplicate the template slide so that you don’t mess up the original template (which can cause headaches later on). Do this by right clicking the first slide in the navigator and then selecting “Duplicate slide”
  4. As an option, you can upload your school’s branding to this slide. Do this by clicking on “Insert image” and then “Upload from computer”. Locate your school’s branding file on your computer and then select it to insert it into the template.
  5. To customize the duplicate template slide, right click the default badge icon and select “Replace image”. From there, select “Upload from computer” and locate the badge file that was unlocked by the student. Select the file to insert it into the template.
  6. You can then repeat the process to add a photo of the student by replacing the default profile icon. If you do not have photos of your students on your computer, you can also use the “Camera” option to take a photo of your student.
  7. Finally, update the text box to replace “STUDENT” with the student’s name and “BADGE” with the badge’s name.
  8. Once the graphic is fully customized, download it as an image file. Do this by selecting “File”, “Download”, and then selecting either “JPEG image (.jpg, current slide)” or “PNG image (.png, current slide)” as the download option.
  9. An image file of your Adventure Badges Social Celebration graphic will be downloaded to your computer. You can share this however you see fit (e.g. on your Google Classroom stream, in your weekly newsletter, at your next school assembly, via your school’s social media platform, etc.)

Google Classroom Walkthrough

Setting up the Adventure Badges in Google Classroom is as easy as creating an assignment. That being said, I know that technology can be a pain point for some of us. If you fall into that category, here is a video walkthrough to guide you through the process:

Growing The Game

Everything I’ve described for you here represents the “launch” version of the Adventure Badges. The fun part comes with what happens next: how we grow the game as a community.

When you purchase the Adventure Badges Resources, you’ll be invited to sign up for the Adventure Badges community newsletter. Doing so will provide you with two main benefits:

  1. You’ll be able to submit ideas for new badges. My goal is to have the people playing the game help shape its future. I will take a look at any badge ideas that get submitted and do my best to turn them into badges that will live in the game. If I use your idea for a badge, you will be credited for the idea in the Adventure Badges Guidebook (where it says “Designed by YOUR NAME from YOUR LOCATION”).
  2. You’ll gain access to all future Adventure Badges. People who have purchased the Adventure Badges Resources and signed up for the community newsletter will have a Booster Pack of three new badges emailed to them on a monthly basis (as long as new badge ideas are submitted). This way, your students will be able to continue to discover and unlock new badges in your classes at no additional cost to you.

To make sure that I am able to continue to manage the Adventure Badges in a sustainable way, this will be a paid resource. I’m setting the launch price at $10 and this may grow over time as new badges and features are added to the system. The download includes:

  1. The 24 original Adventure Badges.
  2. The 16 original Player Level tile graphics.
  3. Grade-Level tile graphics for grades K-12.
  4. The Adventure Badges Profile Google Slides Template.
  5. The Adventure Badges Social Celebration Google Slides Template.
  6. Access to the Adventure Badges community newsletter.
  7. Access to all future Adventure Badges booster packs and new features.

I’m really excited about this project and can’t wait to see how it grows and evolves over time. I hope that you see the value and fun that I’ve worked hard to bake into it and will consider joining the Adventure Badges community!

Feel free to hit me up on Twitter or over on the Contact Page should you have any questions!

Thanks so much for reading! Happy Teaching! 🥳

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Joey Feith is the founder of ThePhysicalEducator.com. He currently teaches elementary physical education at St. George’s School of Montreal in Quebec, Canada.