Learner Agency (also known as student agency) is key to providing opportunities for the development of key competencies and the application of learning. In this guest blog post, Kate Friedwald explores resources to support learner agency. Ensuring learners have a choice in their learning not only raises engagement but also supports the learning of vital skills our young people need to be successful in tomorrow’s world. Read more about what agency is here.
One of the key considerations when choosing to provide more agency/choice in your classroom programme is what resources you will use for independent learning.
I look at resources in two categories
- Open-ended rich activities that promote the creation and real-world application of skills and knowledge.
- Targeted activities that focus on specific skills or knowledge areas.
BOTH are important in order to achieve a balanced learning programme where explicit teaching of needed skills and concepts occurs alongside the real-world application of these developing abilities.
Let’s look at each category one by one.
Open-ended rich activities
Open-ended rich activities are tasks that have no answer, require the application of a range of skills and knowledge, and leave the thinking and decision-making process in the hands of the learner. These tasks take a decent amount of time to work through and are designed for two main reasons.
- To provide engaging opportunities for learners to apply skills and knowledge they may have recently acquired in what could be real-world applications.
- To provide opportunities for the development of the key competencies as learners are left open to interpret and create as they see fit.
For example, an activity to plan a birthday party or to create and budget a family meal.
Targeted activities are tasks that hone in on a specific skill or knowledge area. It is these tasks that may follow a teacher workshop or be every day milage and practice tasks. These tasks are often shorter, have a measurable outcome, and are traditionally the tasks that teachers have set for students. For example, an activity-based around different sentence structures, a particular maths strategy, a reading comprehension strategy.
Both types of these activities are important, as targeted activities teach our learners the skills and knowledge they need, and open-ended rich activities give them the opportunity to apply their learning. They also help learners to build on their key competency skills as they create solutions to tasks and problems.
So what resources fit into these two categories? Right here on this website, you will find some great examples of both types of activities from Top Teaching Tasks.
Open-ended rich activities
Selecting resources to include in your learning plan from both of these categories will ensure a well balanced and engaging learning programme. Couple this with high learner involvement in when tasks are completed, who they learn with/from and the tools they use to support their learning and you have an agency-fueled superclass.
Did you Say Freebie?
So where do you start? Grab my “Give It a Go” Freebie which provides you with all the resources, instructions and set up to give you and your learners a real taste of what your classroom could look like. I am also in the process of putting together a kick-arse digital course to teach you EVERYTHING you need to know following the freebie. You can join the journey as I create the course by clicking here.
Kate is an MoE Accredited PLD Facilitator supporting teachers in the areas of digital fluency, digital technologies, learner agency and innovative learning. She is big on helping teachers with HOW to implement things, as opposed to just WHY. Kate also hosts a resource membership, saving teachers time with curated resource collections. Reach out to Kate either through her Facebook Group – Primary Teachers Resource Sharing (NZ), Facebook Page – ShareWithUs, or website www.sharewithus.co.nz.
Back to School Starter Kit
Our Back to School Starter Kit contains everything you need to get your classroom set up and ready for day one. This resource includes classroom decor and display materials, literacy and social studies activities, early finishers and team building activities, and more!
Print, photocopy and laminate these resources and then put your feet up knowing you are ready for day one! You’ll also save with our generous discount (25% off!). See more here.