A part of our strategic plan is to increase student voice and agency.
So what is it?
At Lalor Primary School we have divided this into two definitions.
We define Voice as students having a vote or an influence on what happens at school.
We define Agency as students having autonomy over their learning.
Let's have a look at Voice.
Earlier in 2021 staff decided that we needed a whole school understanding of the behaviours we’d like to see our students exhibit. We used a model from the School Wide Positive Behaviour Program and integrated our school value of respect.
The easy option would be for staff to come up with the rules. Instead, every class filled in their own matrix. These were then merged together to create a ‘Community’ overview.
The community overviews were then given to the Student Representative Council, led by Bec Thorpe , the council created a whole school document merging the thoughts of all 3 communities.
Staff then had their say on the document. With the staff suggestions added the matrix went back to the SRP who in turn took it back to their communities for approval.
Community 3 Remote Learning
Community 3 teachers asked their students about the start times for their sessions. Two classes decided on a different start time and the teachers immediately instigated the change, while the other two preferred to keep the start time the same.
Inquiry Learning Subjects
All Inquiry Learning investigations this year have come from the students’ interests. Each Community goes through a process where students list what they are curious about? What are the concerned about? What do they want to create? Staff then sift through this information to link the curriculum to the responses the students have given them.
Below are examples of the process from Community 1.
Now let's have a look at Agency...
Community 3 Student Learning Matrix
Community 3 have used a matrix for English and Mathematics based on the Victorian Curriculum Achievement Standards. Students self-assess themselves against the standards, whilst the teachers did the same thing against the same standards in Compass. Teachers then compared their assessment of the students with the students own assessment of themselves. The conference between teacher and student led to the development of goals based on the achievement standards that the students wanted to improve in.
The next step for students is to define what success looks like building a success criteria against the levels of Blooms Taxonomy. Student's have autonomy over which achievement standard they want to improve in and how they are going to achieve it. Unfortunately the lockdown has delayed the next part of the process.
Community 2 Fractions
The picture shows a success criteria that has been constructed between the teacher and students that targets fractions over level 2 and 3 of the Victorian Curriculum. Students have had a say in the creation of the criteria (voice). Students then have autonomy to choose which ones they want to do (agency).
Community 2 Term 4 Inquiry
Community 2 has done the same thing here with their Inquiry Unit. Success criteria is co constructed against Blooms. However this time they have extended Blooms with different levels from the knowledge domain: Factual, Conceptual, Procedural and Metacognitive.
Community 3 - Term 4 Inquiry
Here is an example from Dwain Barakat's class. Students were given the achievement standard "students understand that Earth is part of a system of planets and can use models to describe key features of the solar system".
Students worked in groups to create their own success criteria against Blooms (voice). Dwain then collected them all into one document.
Both Community 2 & 3 examples were co-constructed with the students (voice). Students now have the control to choose the activities that are of interest to them (agency).
In both of these examples you can see that not only does it use voice and agency, it enhances differentiation. All students, at all levels can engage in the activities that suit their learning needs that demonstrate success against the achievement standard.
Some students have gone beyond the inquiry, creating their own success criteria answering the questions that they are interested in.
Now and Beyond
There are many more examples that I could of used from across the school. We still have a long way to go, but considering the obstacles that have been in our way over the past two years I am encouraged by what we have been able to achieve and excited for the future.
I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Feel to use the comment section below.