Last year I introduced a leader board of sorts that allowed students voluntarily take tests to go up in status. I called this a “ranking system” (Belts and Bows: Ranking System Reviewed and Bow Rank Update w Video of Rank Promotion) and students were able to climb up 11 different ranking levels. The students needed to be a minimum level and then had to take a 10 question content quiz and perform a short skills demonstration. It was fairly popular with over half of the students gaining at least 1 rank.
One element that did not work well was the sheer number of ranking levels. While 11 ranking levels does not sound like a lot there were some unintended consequences. My students meet with me 5 times over two weeks. This means that over the course of the year we might meet only 75 or 80 times. Factor in mandatory testing, field trips, etc and some students were trying to take ranking tests at awkward times. Another mechanic of the ranking tests was that students had to pass BOTH parts of the ranking test AND if they failed one part of the test they had to wait until the next class to retry. For example, if they passed the content test but fail the performance they could “bank” the content test but have to retake the performance the next class. Several students used quite a bit of class time taking and retaking content quizzes and skills performances. Another awkward element was that the ranking system did not fit into my narrative.
The benefits of the ranking system though are too good to pass up. My students voluntarily quizzed themselves and demonstrated their historic skills. The only real benefit was status! The got to have a small ceremony and move a clothespin to a new ribbon.
That said… It can be better.
This year I am going to reduce the number of ranking levels to 5. I have also divided the class into 2 different guilds. The different guilds will have different ranking titles. The 2 guilds are Sentinels and Hunters.
- Neophyte (starting rank)
- Neophyte (starting rank)
- Dark Knight
Only 5 ranking levels this year; each will still consist of a content quiz and performance task. My goal is to wrap the ranking system into the story line through a comic like system. Instead of calling these ranking tests I am calling them ranking quests. I am thinking of this similar to when (spoilers) Thor had to go on a quest in Avengers: Infinity Wars to create his new weapon Stormbreaker.
I have been building a “choose-your-own-adventure” style comic PowerPoint delivery system. Since we are a 1:1 device school I will put the “comic” PowerPoint for the rank quest onto a jump drive so that they can access the quest. I haven’t polished this part yet, but I am thinking of hiding the questing jump drives with various teachers or in different locations. That’s still a maybe. The narrative is that the quest is administered and monitored by the “Council of Watchers”. One irritating part of last years ranking tests was that students were constantly asking to take quizzes – usually as I was in conversation with another student. So, I am automating the process a bit this year.
Students will need to be a minimum level (see the Ranking Sheet) in order to attempt the Ranking quest. This serves a few purposes. First, it staggers the quests. Second, it gets around FERPA in that the rank is NOT tied to a grade. Third, it offers a status element. When they hit this minimum level the student will have a passcode pop up in there personalized grade sheet. This code will be used to unlock a Google Form Lock. Here is a screen cap of my template Personalized Grade Sheet. This is a Hunter Guild member with the “Invisibility” super power. The diamond is the Super Power symbol and this example student is a level 8 out of 10. The Invisibility card is the student’s Super Power explained. the Hunter types start with three Hunter’s Hearts cards and lose one for each late assignment. The ranking codes are on the right.
In the comic PowerPoint the “watchers” will cast a “spell” to test the student’s content knowledge. Here is an example from the “Sentinel” Guild’s first ranking quest to become a “Defender”. (If I did this right you should be able to click on the “Spell” to see the Google Form but not have the passcode to take the Content Quiz).
This is a 10 question Google Form quiz. Once the quiz is opened the students need the revealed passcode to take the quiz. If they recieve an 8/10 on the quiz they see me (the resident “Watcher”) in order to move onto the performance task. These tasks differ based on the rank but should take 10-15 minute quick assessments and are based on basic history skills.
If the rank is achieved the student earns a number of rewards.
- A bonus in their clash/boss fight power. They can add a full die to their attack. They also add points to their defense.
- They get a 100XP bonus.
- The ability to select a free item or absorb other Super Powers.
- They get a sticker and a card to display on their 1:1 laptops.
- Since I have a Super Hero theme. 1st ranks get to design a logo. 2nd ranks get a costume. 3rd ranks get a weapon. 4th get a non-human sidekick. Final level rank gets a full on Sidekick. These privileges do nothing but add flair to their character.
What I like about the ranking system is that it is entirely voluntary. There are incentives but not so drastic that a student feels compelled to complete the assignments. The display of the Ranking and the badge-like element of the stickers enhances the Status SAPS Reward motivation. There are motives for Achievers, Players, and a touch of Free Spirit types. Greifers will be attracted to the Battle Mechanic powers. Maybe I need to add-on Socializer and Philanthropist motives with the costume/sidekick power ups. I’d love to hear your thoughts after your read through the student forms and check out the Comic PowerPoint.