Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Involving everyone in creating Essential Agreements

At the start of the school, as part of the PYP we create Essential Agreements in all of our classes. These are statement that students in each class draw up and agree upon in order to learn best in PE.

Over the years the process I have used has changed. The first year I did this I started out with a set of Essential Agreements that I drew up and which all 12 of the classes I taught used. The wording was great and it used lots of Learner Profile and PYP Attitudes in it, but it was my work, that the students all nodded agreement too.

This has progressed over the years to Essential Agreements being student driven. I have had them all sit down as a group and make suggestions, which were then written up onto a board, where we could choose the best. I have also had students working in groups draw up lists and photographed them all and then combined onto one piece of paper.

One of the drawbacks of these methods, is that I feel, that the conversations have been dominated by the louder, more confident students, especially in our mixed grade level classes. So this year I tried something different and used Padlet and the student iPads. Padlet is a bit like putting sticking sticky notes on a wall, but without them being blown off into the puddles - we teach outside!

After a few minutes of silent thinking, Students found a partner and shared ideas. They then took an ipad and scanned a QR code, which took directed them to a padlet wall, set up in advance. Once there they typed their ideas of what we needed to do to learn best in PE, onto the padlet wall. As they were doing this, they could also see what the others were typing. Several students said that this helped them modify their ideas.

The final step in the process was looking at all the posts as a class and deleting duplicates and in some cases asking the authors of some posts to expand their ideas to the rest of the class, before choosing our agreements to keep. Then it was a simple case of taking a screenshot of the final product.

 Judging by the increased volume of posts on the wall this year, I believe that students were more happy sharing their ideas this way and it allowed the quieter students a much greater input into the discussion. Looking back at last year’s essential agreements, I also feel that the students thought about the agreements in more depth this year as the quality of suggestions was quite impressive.


  1. I think this is a great idea, when all students have equal opportunity they can all participate. Will this be a static document or will students be allowed to contribute and add over time?

  2. Hi Joe,
    Never even thought of making the Essential Agreements dynamic - what a great idea, coming back to them and modifying them as the year progresses! Hope the new job and lifestyle is good