Developing Student Agency
Patrick Henry Elementary School

Learner Led instruction empowers learners with meaningful ways to make choices about their learning experiences, transforming the traditional learning environment to one driven by the student.
Created for educators. By educators.
“The personalized learning block lets them move at their own pace and reach their goals when they should… As they move through the autonomy levels we start bringing in new activities… It’s a constant conversation with the kids, them telling us what their needs are, us telling them what we’d like to see and what the expectations are… I think the answer is yes to a lot of the things they ask.”
Ms. Diane Meloscia
4th Grade Teacher
About Patrick Henry Elementary School
A Chicago Public Schools Neighborhood School
  • 4%African American
  • 2%Asian
  • 83%Hispanic
  • 7%White
  • 4%Other
  • 88%Low Income
  • 13%Diverse Learners
  • 46%English Learners
  • 17%Mobility*

How Student Agency Works in Ms. Meloscia's Class

Step 1.
Learner / Create learning experiences that are designed for the strengths, interests and needs of students

Create time and space to support students in developing ownership: Ms. Meloscia redesigned her literacy time to better meet the individual needs of her students. She moved her mini-lessons to a shorter 60-minute block in the morning, which enabled her to design 90 minutes of personalized learning time in the afternoon.

Step 2.
Learner / Cultivate an environment for learners to move purposefully and freely within the classroom to enhance collaboration and peer support

Develop a structure to scaffold increasing advocacy and ownership: Ms. Meloscia started the transition to personalized learning time by introducing students to Levels of Autonomy, and the expectations and responsibilities of each level. Students begin at Level 1 and move to higher levels as they demonstrate readiness for more independence and ownership. Progress is fluid, and students can move between levels based on readiness and need. See the sidebar for details about each Level of Autonomy.

Step 3.
Learner / Partner with learners to establish a timeline and a plan for monitoring progress in meeting goals

Provide students with tools to manage their time and learning: Ms. Meloscia provides each student with a template to create their schedule, set goals, track progress, and reflect on learning. The template is differentiated to student needs. Students in Level 1 receive a template with a predetermined schedule and a list of “must dos” and “may dos.” Students in Level 4 create their own schedule and choose the activities on which they work. Students in all levels set a goal and reflect on learning.

Step 4.
Learner / Coach learners to identify needs and advocate for those needs to be met

Establish structures for students to self-assess and advocate for their needs: Ms. Meloscia conferences regularly with each of her students. The frequency and content of conferences varies based on student need and their level of autonomy. During all conferences, Ms. Meloscia coaches students on their reflections and self-assessments to help them recognize, articulate and meet their needs.