Student Agency - Moving from Passive to Active Learning


Planning an IB Unit with the Students

Encouraging greater student agency in the classroom is more than simply listening to the student voice or giving them choices.  Student agency is the shift from passive learning and active learning. Allowing the children to actively contribute to the planning of their own learning, absolutely promotes meaningful student involvement. We gave this opportunity to the students in Grade 4.



First we brainstormed the theme and its definition from our own prior knowledge. We then used the official IB definition of How We Organise Ourselves to add any details we thought was important.

I explained to them that the unit was going to be a social studies unit focusing on economic activities. They knew what our central idea was roughly going to be about Successful Entrepreneurs.

We brainstormed our ideas about Entrepreneurs and created a gallery walk to read and share each other’s ideas. The children reflected upon the other groups’ thoughts and ideas, they made connections to their own ideas and also added any valuable information they learnt from other groups.


Each group then took their collection of ideas and collaboratively wrote a summarising one sentence on a strip of paper. We shared each group’s sentences and they were placed on a large chart paper. We identified the commonalities between the ideas and created a list of keywords from all the suggestions and then created a class Central Idea.


The next task was to decide upon our inquiries. We did this through identifying some inquiry questions based on things that we wanted to learn out about during this unit. We grouped them according to the key concepts. For this first experience, I shared the key concepts already planned but in the future as the students become more familiar with the key concepts – it would be great for them to identify the key concepts most related to their ideas.

Again, we shared our ideas, compared and contrasted and came up with 3-4 lines of inquiry that were closely connected to the Key Concepts and our inquiry questions. Additional questions that the children felt just HAD to be included were slotted into the driving questions/provocations section of the planner and placed on the class wonder wall.

 I took all of the material that we had created together, typed it into Managabac, our platform for recording our planning. I intend to print a master copy and hang it in a common area for all to see and refer to as the unit progressed.  This will be a working document and hopefully it will be added to and reflected upon frequently throughout the unit.

Ajarn Mary ann Van de Weerd

PYP Coordinator/JS Deputy Principal

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