Standards Based Grading GAMIFIED With Badges

Improving My Learning Goal Based Assessment Approach

Standard Based Grading - Assessment Gamified With Badges

Recently, Jon Orr shared his post called We Like Those Stinkin’ Badges that took Alice Keeler‘s idea of Levelling Up and Awarding Badges in her courses and gave it a twist to work with his math classes.

After spending most of the day with Jon in Toronto yesterday, I found some time to dig into his take on Alice Keeler’s work. I’ve shared some of the ways in which I’ve attempted to move towards assessing students based on learning goals (aka standards based grading) like some of the other folks in my district, but I’ve found that sharing one big public Google Sheet with students hasn’t inspired those who need it most to address the learning goals they are struggling with. For some time, I have thought about using cell referencing to create a personalized sheet for each student, but had no new ideas to really inspire making the change.

Jon’s spin-off of Alice’s gamification approach to assessment still focused on students being graded on individual learning goals, but the part that I really liked was the idea that students are to focus on consistently showing a deep understanding to earn 4-stars (level 4) in order to master the concept and earn a badge. Here’s what each of Jon’s students will have access to a skill evidence record google sheet that looks like this:

Individual Student Skill Evidence Record by Jon Orr

Jon created a Master Skill Record sheet that only Jon can view and edit that self-populates each of the student skill record sheets that looks like this:

Master Student Skill Evidence Sheet - Jon Orr small

Having found myself tossing and turning all night, I decided I should get up and give this a shot. The instructions by Jon and digging a little deeper on Alice’s site for new inspiration had me pretty much setup in 15 minutes. If you have used Google Sheets at all in the past, it won’t take you long. If you are new to Google Sheets, Google Drive, etc. then you’ll have a bit more learning, but nothing crazy. Here’s the steps I took:

  1. Read Jon Orr’s post.
  2. Followed up looking at Alice Keeler’s posts. This isn’t necessary if you’re just looking to replicate Jon’s idea.
  3. I started by copying Jon’s Master Spreadsheet (thanks, Jon) or, preview or grab a copy of my version that extends Jon’s further.
  4. I added my learning goals for MFM1P Grade 9 Applied to my own copy of the GSheet.
  5. Added a few ideas I hope to continue building on throughout semester 2 (see below).

Added Features

After making a copy of Jon’s spreadsheet that he created, I immediately poured in my learning goals from my MFM1P Grade 9 Applied course and came up with a few things that could enhance this great tool even more.

1. Added Rows For Resources Related to Each Learning Goal

A few years back, I created a public spreadsheet with a bunch of related links to PDF files, tasks, etc. underneath each learning goal. For some reason, I never did this for my grade 9 applied class. I thought that with this new gamified way of assessing, it would be important to provide students with some next steps if I wanted them to actually take responsibility for their learning. So, I added 5 rows that I can add links to resources in. If you’re unsure how to create a clean text hyperlink in a GSheet, here’s the code:

=hyperlink(“”, “Go To Google”)

The formula above will show the words “Go To Google” as a link sending you to Just as the rest of the features in the spreadsheet work, the resources will self-populate for each student sheet you create.

Mathlete Pearce's Master Student Skill Evidence Sheet small

2. Added Ability to Earn “Titles”

I loved the idea of badges and thought rather than just counting up how many badges the students had earned, what if we had hierarchical titles that can be earned as you get more badges? Like how some games start you off as a “townsperson” and move up to “King” or how in one of Alice’s classes you begin as a “Noob” and move up to “Super Genius”, I wanted to do something similar.

After a quick search on the Google machine, I stumbled upon a discussion on Quora where Arijit Lahiri suggested using polygons as the basis for the hierarchical structure:

  • 0 Badges = 0-Sided Polygon
  • 1 Badge = Line
  • 2 Badges = Angle
  • 3 Badges = Triangle
  • and so on…

So, I created (well, am still creating) polygonal badges up to 20-sides with the last possible badge being an “Infinite-Sided Circle” for receiving all the badges in the course. They don’t look amazing, but I plan to spend more time making them look better once I get rolling with this.

Student Skill Evidence Sheet With Badges and Polygonal Title Hierarchy

You’ll notice that there is a “Badges & Titles” sheet where you can swap out badges for any images you’d like. I’m in the process of creating the polygonal badges and will add to the sheet as they are made.

Student Skill Evidence Learning Goal Spreadsheets - Badges & Titles Sheet small

More Modifications Added Mon Jan 26th, 2015:
Don’t have much time to add details right now, but I’ll list them so you can look for them…

3. No Mastery Badge? Here’s a Next Step…

For each learning goal that has been assessed, Jon had the sheet automatically add a badge. I slightly modified this and changed the Mastery Badge column title to Next Step or Mastery. Now, if the teacher has not awarded mastery for a learning goal by entering “M” in the column next to the mark on the master sheet, a link to a task related to that learning goal will pop up for the student to do. They can click on the task and print it, annotate with an iPad, or simply work it out on lined paper to be re-assessed. These tasks are added by the teacher on the Master spreadsheet in rows 16, 17 and 18 under each learning goal. Super easy to add as well as change up as needed. Don’t mind the tasks I have in there right now – they are just in there temporarily until I can add better ones.

4. Add Teacher Feedback

Since there is a column for each learning goal dedicated to awarding a badge for mastery with the letter “M”, I figured we could easily use those columns for descriptive feedback until the mastery badge is awarded. There is no obligation for the teacher to give feedback for each learning goal, but the option is there and the feedback will automatically populate in the appropriate student sheet next to the appropriate learning goal.

5. Links to Handouts, Solutions, Resources, Videos, Etc.

The teacher can add any resource links to the master sheet under each learning goal and they will self-populate to the far right on the student sheets. I’m actually considering using this as my course website to eliminate confusion from the organizational nightmare a blog or Google Site can become quickly. Rather than listing resources chronologically, all resources will be organized by learning goal and thus easier for students to find what they are looking for.

6. Next Learning Goal to Re-Address Clearly Indicated

I’ve added a Next Learning Goal area in row 4 of each student sheet to clearly indicate a “next step” for each individual student to improve. What the sheet does is it searches for areas to improve and then returns that learning goal number, description, level, mark, link to a related task, and feedback right at the top of the sheet. Specifically, it will search for incomplete/did not submit learning goals, then those less than level 1, and so on and returns the first result. Goal here is for students to address the “oldest” learning goal with the greatest need for attention. It would be easy to modify it to the most recent and/or learning goals that are almost at a level 3, if you’d prefer.

I will make it clear to my students that they can select any learning goal requiring attention, but I think the Next Step information will make it easy for them to find something to work on very quickly.

7. Class-wide or Personal Note From Teacher

You can quickly send a message to the entire class or a personal message to individual students that will appear at the top of each student sheet immediately under the Next Step row. To add a note to the entire class, simply write your note in cell E2 of the Master sheet and it will appear on all the student sheets. You can also write a personalized note in any cell in the D column next to a student name and only that student will receive the message. Note that a personal message takes priority over a class message.

Ideas I’d Like to Add…

I’m really loving the idea of gamifying this standard based grading assessment approach and want to find more ways to get students excited. I’ve been thinking about adding some more badges and/or a points system that rewards effort, clicks on resource links (won’t tell kids this), collaboration, participation, etc. in order to develop a leaderboard. I’ve had a lot of push-back from Tweeps in the Twittersphere about this and it is understandable. I won’t make knowledge the foundation of this additional community gamification setup as I know that you’ll always see the same folks at the top. I don’t know what this will look like yet, but when I do, I’ll be sure to share it.

So, to pay it forward in the same way that both Jon and Alice did with their great work on this spreadsheet, click the link below to make a copy of my modified version:



Click here to grab your own copy.

btw – when trying to find out how to force the user to make their own copy of a Google Spreadsheet rather than simply view mine, I found an older resource from Alice’s blog that suggested that you copy and paste the Google Spreadsheet share link and erase #gid= and everything after it and replace with &newcopy. However, it doesn’t seem to be working that way anymore. When I checked Jon’s link, he simply erased /edit?usp=sharing and added /copy to the end of the link. That did the trick for me!

Once you grab a copy, simply duplicate the “Student” sheet for each individual student and simply change their student number in the top-left corner of each sheet. After that, everything will be populated automatically when you make changes to the master sheet.

Further Revisions From Other #MTBoS Tweeps:

Sounds like folks have been taking this resource and adding their own improvements to the sheet and then sharing it back out for everyone to benefit. Awesome stuff, indeed!

Here’s a few revisions that you should also check out:

Good luck and let me know how it goes!

Check Out Other Recent Posts:

  • Erin Little

    Wow! I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed looking at this! But I want to do it! Your links go to something in Google (for example the multiplication array gif). How does that happen? Or would it be easier for me to just link to a blog post?

    • It can definitely be overwhelming to see all at once. The original idea by Alice and Jon was awesome and I just kept thinking of more ideas to add. You’ll definitely want to do some tinkering with it to fully understand the possibilities. It is a pretty powerful tool!

      You can add links in the cells by using the hyperlink formula.


      =hyperlink(“”,”Text to Display”)

      … will hide the link and only show the text in the second quote.

      Where you upload the file(s) is up to you. That animated gif was uploaded to Google+ and I just shared the link. You could also upload files to Google Drive, Dropbox, One Drive, or similar and share the link.

      • Erin Little

        The timing of finding this post was perfect. I’ve really been thinking about more ongoing formative and summative assessment instead of unit tests which I despise but have been using. Thank you. One more question, I got the impression from Jon and Alice’s posts that they have Google classroom. We do not. I have asked my students to create google accounts and Evernote accounts and we will be using Evernote (although I’m wondering if I should just stick to google docs). This system can be used with Google docs and drive right? I don’t need Google Classroom?

        • Actually, students don’t need any account to use this system. The teacher must have a google account in order to create the sheets, but then you are sharing the sheet “published to the web” which means anyone who has the address can access it. If you want them to submit work digitally, they might want Google accounts as well. Currently, the sheet itself doesn’t have any way for the student to modify it and thus no account is necessary. My students have Google accounts because they also submit work digitally, but not because of this in particular.

          Hope this helps!

        • Jon

          Hi Erin, just adding to Kyle’s answer, I don’t use Google Classroom…. Just gave out the links to kids manually. Glad to hear you’ll use it. Looking forward to hearing feedback from users.

          • Right now, my students are actually using their “Skill Evidence Sheets” as the class website. All resources are posted via the master spreadsheet and automatically appear on each student sheet. Seems to be working great.

            Must say though, that the rendering in Safari on iOS devices is not optimal. It works, but I’m hoping to figure out a way to make the published content a little better looking. Something to work on this summer!

  • ben

    I have to admit I’m a little bit skeptical that older kids would really respond to this and instead just see through the badges and levels. How has this worked in practice?

    • Hi Ben – I just started using this system this semester (first week of Feb 2015) and so far, students seem to like it. I don’t think that gamifying is some sort of silver bullet, but if you strip away what is really happening, you’ll see that the teacher can essentially automate the “next step” suggestion for each student. This means that every student who has not mastered all skills to date has something they could be working on to get better. Trying to create a culture of students taking responsibility for their learning and it seems to be helping.

      If I can play devil’s advocate for a moment, your skepticism would also suggest that students wouldn’t respond to marks/grades. Our whole assessment system in education is based on “points” up to 100% which work for some and not for others. All I’m trying to do here is add a dynamic to grades that helps students see the value in completing small tasks. Often times, students look at their grade and think “there is no way I can increase it” or “it will be too much work”. This system promotes students re-attempting each “level” of this math game we’re playing to gain something like badges and titles. And let’s not forget, the more badges and the better your title, the higher your overall mark.

  • Erin Little

    Me again with another question. Under the first student name you list all the assignments and then make-up assignments and you post links to them in the columns to the right that self-populate. Do you need to copy that list and paste it under each student? Thanks!

    • Erin Little

      and another one. Don’t you divide your curriculum by strand? I need to separate strands in the marking sheet for the report card. Wondering how to do that. I don’t know how to self-populate yet, but I’m sure I can figure that out!

      • In secondary, we do not have to divide the curriculum by strand. I’d suggest that you simply indicate what strand each learning goal is a part of. I’ll make a note of this for something to add this summer…

    • Everything should self-populate to the student sheets… this includes all the “resources” and the “improvement / next step tasks”. However, the improvement / next step tasks will only display for students who need them (i.e.: a student at level 2 will automatically see the improve to Level 3 task).

      There should be no copying/pasting necessary from the master sheet to the student sheets.

    • Hi Erin,
      Sorry for the late response. There should never be a need to copy anything. Everything is populated in the master spreadsheet and *should* automatically populate in each student sheet. Let me know how it goes!

  • Nathan Vaillancourt

    I really enjoyed reading this. I have a few questions and I apologize if they’ve been asked before, but I can’t see any previous comments for some reason. What form do your assessments take? For example, I saw on Jon’s post that he assesses LGs 1 to 4, then LG 2 to 5, etc. Firstly, do you come back to LG 1 at another time? Secondly, do you customize each assessment for each student? I know you want to assess each LG several times with increasing difficulty to achieve mastery, but if a student was at level 1 for a LG, I expect you wouldn’t want to give them an assessment with a harder question. Thirdly, are the assessments the students do strictly formative or are they summative as well? How do you assign them a grade? Lastly, what do your lessons look like? I assume you must tell the students what the learning goal you are working on that day is. with this type of assessment, do you still follow a text, or do you just break the course down how you see fit?

    Sorry for the long post! I’m working as an OT right now, but this assessment by LG has really inspired me and although I can’t use it right now and I’m hoping to learn as much as I can ahead of time! Thanks!

    • Hi Nathan Vaillancourt. Thanks for jumping in! My assessments are similar to Jon’s, however this is the first semester I have tried moving away from a traditional “unit” system. While my assessments come weekly like Jon’s, I am rolling the learning goals based on what students need to work on and in more of a random fashion. What I want to go for is student competency in the expectations of the course because they have a deep understanding. This means I am not explicitly stating what will be on each assessment; it can be anything they have learned to this point. Their mark is floating and the hope is it will continue to improve over time. However, that means that I need to spiral my curriculum to ensure students are using previous learning goals on a regular basis.

      As for lessons, I might check out the post on the 4-part math lesson as it deconstructs what I *try* to do when introducing new topics/learning goals:

      Looking forward to continuing the conversation. Glad this idea has struck a chord with you.

      • Nathan Vaillancourt

        Thank you Kyle for your reply. It was very helpful. I do have a few more questions/comments, if you’re able.

        1. I know you said that you don’t tell the students what particular LGs will be on an upcoming assessment, but I imagine there must be some indication of what LG a particular question is assessing so that when they look at the spreadsheet and see a mark for a LG they know what question gave them that mark.

        2. When reading Jon’s post, he linked to Dan Meyer’s post about assessing based on LGs. Do you follow a similar method? That is, students can request unlimited assessments of a particular LG and only the highest mark counts? Also, once students earn a mastery badge, what happens? I think in Dan’s post, he tells his students they are exempt from questions for that LG in the future.

        3. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like these assessments are both formative and summative at the same time. With descriptive feedback and opportunities to retry being formative and a level grade being summative. I’m not sure if this is how it works, so like I said, I may be wrong. In any case, how do you assign number grades?

        4. Are the style of the assessment questions similar to the consolidation/practice questions? That is, questions similar to textbook or standardized test questions. I assume you don’t want overly complex questions in order to ensure you are assessing one LG at a time. If that is the case, how do you promote connections between the concepts, and do you assess after you have taught those connections? And how do you incorporate the 4 categories (knowledge & understanding, etc.) into you assessments?

        Sorry for such a long response and so many questions! But thanks for your time.

        • Hi Nathan,

          To answer your questions:

          1. I *usually* indicate the learning goal under each question. This helps me (and the students) stay organized. However, I wonder about how much the actual statement of the learning goal pushes students in a direction and sacrifices some of the problem solving/critical thinking piece. Thoughts?

          2. I follow a similar format to Jon (and Dan’s original post) where students can ALWAYS request to demonstrate learning at any time. Currently, I’m spiralling my curriculum and assessments, so even if a student doesn’t request to be reassessed later in the course, they WILL be reassessed anyway :). The one difference I mentioned in a comment below is that I don’t exempt students once they have “mastered” the skill. Retention is a huge issue in mathematics education, so I think by me allowing students to be exempt will only promote deterioration of that mastered skill. Much of what I read suggests that things need to keep coming back right before you forget in order to build a stronger connection in your memory. Anecdotally from my experience so far, I’d agree.

          3. I like to think that all of my assessments are formative up until the last day of the course. I want to always promote growth (hence ability to readdress learning goals at anytime), however students write the assessments and give it their best go. I don’t give help when asked during an assessment, but do offer the reassurance that they can always readdress. The purpose of assessment is to help all stakeholders (teacher, student, parents) determine where the student is on their learning journey – not to peg them to a mark. I find it makes the assessment process less stressful for everyone and keeps people thinking with a growth mindset.

          4. Because this is my first time spiralling the curriculum, I’ll be making some changes to my assessments and the questions I’ve selected for this year. Knowing what I now know, I would start the semester with more knowledge/understanding and application questions, while slowly digging deeper to thinking questions later in the year. Since we are spiralling, it only makes sense that every time we touch a learning goal, we should go deeper and the assessments should get deeper as well. Unsure how appropriately I’ve done this my first time around, however it will be a big focus for me next year.

          Whew. Hopefully that helped! I apologize for the late response. I’m really behind on some comments! 🙂

          Hope you’ll pop by again!

          • Nathan Vaillancourt

            Wow! Thanks for the great response!

            Re: number 1, I definitely see your perspective here about not wanting to steer their thinking. Perhaps a compromise would be to indicate the LG afterwards when handing work back with your feedback?

          • That might be the best way to go about it. In some ways, I want to ensure that they don’t lose track of what questions relate to what learning goals, maybe a compromise would be a marking sheet added for them to keep. Good things to think about.

  • Hilary Witts

    Thank you for your wonderful work with this. It is such a great starting point. I was wondering how you share the sheet with the students. Do all the students have view only access to their individual sheet or do they have their own sheet somewhere else. Thanks

    • Hi Hilary – Sorry for the late response!
      Currently, I have been making each sheet “viewable to anyone with the link” and then I use a link shortening service like to create a unique URL for each individual student. Currently, I have been using their student number, but you could make it something more random if you feel more comfortable.

  • MaryAnn Moore

    This looks fabulous! Thanks so much for sharing. I’m curious about your grading scale. It looks like you’re using a conversion from a 100 point scale to a 4 point scale. What is your breakdown? How many points is a 2 or a 4? Also, do you have students re-quiz on each skill even after they’ve demonstrated mastery once? I would imagine that this would be beneficial in spiraling the curriculum.

    • Thanks for the positive feedback. Currently, I have a level 1 as 50%-59%, level 2 as 60%-69%, level 3 as 70%-79% and level 4 as 80%+. You could modify the formula to change the conversion though, if you prefer.

      While I know some folks who allow students to skip assessment on skills they’ve mastered, I like to keep spiralling the content on the assessments as well. There have been cases where I’ve had to remove a mastery badge because they “forgot”. Luckily, with a growth assessment system like we have here, the idea is to promote students getting better. So, they get back on the wagon and go for mastery again.

      I’m still learning how to do this most effectively, but so far, I’m really enjoying it!

      • MaryAnn Moore

        Thanks so much for your response! Another question for you – when you want students to reassess, it will tell the to complete and submit a task. Are these tasks the ones that are listed as resources? Do students complete this in class? At home? How do you ensure that they have worked out the solution independently?

  • Rachael Bath

    Great post and resources Kyle. I have another question that I have been trying to crack for a long time now and that is about sharing a tab in a spreadsheet rather than the whole document. Can you tell me how to do this as it is obviously how this feedback is given to the students.


    • Hilary Witts

      I would like to know this too. I can’t figure it out.

      • In order to share an individual tab, you would go to FILE –> PUBLISH TO WEB and in that pop up window, you should be able to select what you want to share. You can select “Entire Workbook” or you can select individual sheets (tabs). Each tab will give you a separate link.

        I then use a link shortener such as to create short links for each student.

        Hope this helps!

  • Martin Joyce

    Once again, thanks for adding on to Dan and Jon’s work along with getting ideas from Alice. I am excited that part of working on my Common Core Grade 8 Goals sheet will be summer prep for a seemingly less stressful job grading.

    I totally get the hand outs and sample problems below each learning goal. That’s awesome. When I see the assessments, I get that a little confused with the rows below it that allow them to improve levels. Couldn’t you theoretically have those be links to online Google Forms quizzes where they can resubmit it to a spread sheet to be automatically graded by Flubaroo?

    Also, after reading Dan’s first post, he mentions something like 70% of grade is SBG assessments, and the other 30% is homework and classwork I assume. That’s a far departure from my 25% CW, 25% HW, 25% participation, and 25% assessment. I think this system though will be MUCH more reflective of what they ACTUALLY know. Plus, that 25% of HW is mostly graded on effort, because I have no time in class to correct it.

    I am interested in how your class percentages break down. I am still wrapping my head around going from Chapter tests to this system, but it seems exciting.

    Am I correct that each goal could or should have it’s own rubric on scale of 1 to 4? Thanks.

    • Glad you’re liking where the sheet is headed.

      The rows below were there so we could provide more specific tasks for students based on where they were at. For example, if a student was struggling, it would serve them up a lower floor task vs. a student who is going for “mastery”. You could theoretically add whatever you want there such as a Google Forms quiz, but then are you really assessing what they know? I don’t feel that I can take a 5/5 or 10/10 google form assessment as much more than “they’re on the right track”. I want to see their work and try to identify growth in their solutions and strategies.

      In Ontario, we assess students as 70% Term Work (homework and participation cannot be included in the final grade) and 30% final summative evaluation (could be an exam, project, etc.). So, I use SBG for the 70% and do my best to do something similar with the final 30%. As for what you assess each learning goal out of, I think that will take some experimenting on your own. I’ve done 1-4 and percentages. Currently using a percentage simply to help me calculate an overall grade, but feel that 1-4 would probably be most beneficial to help students get better.

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