Sunday, August 20, 2017

Student agency - giving learners a voice

Today I came across this continuum of voice by Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey (whom I did a workshop on personalized learning with 4 years ago).  I've been thinking a lot about student voice and choice recently, and am keen to collect resources about developing student agency.

This graphic shows the continuum from teacher-centred, through learner-centred to learner-driven.  This graphic reminds me in some ways of Hart's Ladder of Participation which I often use in PYP workshops to unpack student action.  Basically the aim in both these models is to give students the opportunity to be active participants in their own learning and in the action that arises from this learning.

In teacher-centred environments there is little student agency, except perhaps some feedback on the lesson at the Expression level and some sharing of their strengths and interests during the Consultation level.

In learner-centred environments students will determine their own learning goals, and how they will show they have achieved them.  There is a lot more decision-making in the Participation level than in the teacher-centred environments.  In the Partnership level students will also contribute to lesson design and will engage in projects and inquiries based on their interests and curiosities, often owrking in small groups.  In these classrooms teachers are facilitating the learning by checking in with and monitoring the various groups.

Finally in learner-driven environments there is more emphasis on student action as they have identified a problem or challenge and they are working to tackle it.  At the Activism stage, students will be involved with experts outside of the classroom, actively building up their own PLN.  At the final stage of Leadership, students are self-directed, take action that will make a difference and will take responsibility for the outcomes.  The teacher is more of an advisor, providing feedback and suggestions on resources or connections that students can use to achieve their goals.

As I'm working on designing some new workshops for the PYP, I'm thinking this graphic may be a good one to share with teachers as they think about student agency.  I notice that Barbara and Kathleen have developed several other continuums as well, for example on ownership and efficacy, and I'll be checking these out as well later this week.

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