Many of us may think of badges as something young scouts achieve, but in Frisco ISD, 5C badges are awarded to teachers by the Technology Department and are coveted items by educators.
The badges are symbols that teachers have mastered successfully incorporating digital skills into their curriculum. The skillsets the badges represent are collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking and digital citizenship.
In FISD, the 5C badge program lets teachers work at their own pace to complete specific activities that allow them to explain, implement and provide proof that their class lesson or project exemplifies a digital skill, according to Liliana Smith, coordinator of elementary instructional technology.
Once a teacher has completed and verified their work, the teacher receives a magnetic badge showing his or her mastery. Because digital citizenship is woven through all other skills, once they complete the requirements for the other four badges, they also receive the digital citizenship badge.
Some teachers race through their badge programs in a matter of weeks. Others take their time and stretch out the process through the school year. Along with the magnetic badges the teachers may display around their door, teachers may request an iPad or a Chromebook that is usually awarded during a campus celebration or staff meeting. Smith and Secondary Coordinator of Instructional Technology Teri Essy try to be on hand for the presentations if possible.
Teachers in Frisco ISD schools have access to iPads and Chromebooks for their students, though they may not have one personally. But taking a lesson plan and combining the use of these tools, along with programs and apps, can sometimes be challenging. It may be the grade level that makes it more difficult or the subject.
“It has always been a struggle for me to find meaningful ways to integrate technology with kindergarten,” said Amy Knapp, who proudly displays her five badges beside her classroom door at Bledsoe Elementary School. “I really loved working on my 5C badges. I began using Seesaw (a digital portfolio program and parent communication tool) at the end of last year as a way to communicate with parents and get myself using technology more with the kids."
Knapp learned about the 5C program this school year from her campus digital learning coach, Brandon Hunter. She was still a little intimidated, she said, but once her students were comfortable with the Seesaw program, she worked with Hunter to complete her first badge – the creativity badge. She had her students use ChatterKid, an interactive app that allows students to add mouths and voices to any picture to complete a fun and educational task.The students took photos of 2D or 3D objects and then described each object's attributes. The students uploaded their photo to Seesaw, which was a seamless process since they had mastered Seesaw already. By using Seesaw, the students could share what they had learned about shapes in a new way.
“I enjoyed doing it with them too,” Knapp said, saying that the lesson helped her realize that it could be easy to be more purposeful in her use of technology.
The payoffs for completing the 5C program were multiple for Knapp. The kindergarten team at Bledsoe was working on the badges at the same time. This enabled them to work on some lessons as a group. It was a way to work on their collaboration skills and to learn in a more efficient manner, which showed in the classroom.
“As we went on, the kids were more confident and able to do more of the work independently,” Knapp said. “I feel much more confident using technology in my classroom and know how easily lessons can be modified or redesigned using technology. It’s not so intimidating anymore and I will continue to create more of these types of lessons for my students."
Knapp and the Bledsoe team were presented with Chromebooks that have allowed the entire kindergarten faculty to work better together. They can now work on their Chromebooks without having to be in the same room and working from one desktop computer and the projector.
FISD teachers have no sash or special uniform to display their badges on, unlike young Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. But guests at campuses should keep an eye out as they pass classes – those 5C badges will be proudly displayed near the door of any teacher who has earned his or her 5C badges.
Since spring 2016, Frisco ISD has awarded more than 500 devices to teachers across the District in grades K-12 through the program.
Follow @FriscoISDTech on Twitter to see how other Frisco ISD teachers are incorporating the use of technology into the classroom. You'll also find lots of pictures celebrating educators across the District who have earned their badges in collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking and digital citizenship.