I'm sitting with a small group of Year 5 children. They've got their books ready for me. I ask my first and only question:
Which piece of work were you most absorbed in and why?
They get right on with the search and very soon are ready to tell me.
This bit here because it was a bit of a challenge; this piece - I was really in to it - like starting a new hobby; this one because I already knew stuff about it; here, this one, we got to use what we'd learned and I realised I could do it; this part - I got to choose how I could do it and I knew I could do it; for this piece I didn't want to stop or do the next lesson.
We want children to be engaged in their learning. But this is just part way along a scale of involvement. At one end there's 'aware' - they know what the task is. Then comes 'engaged' - they are doing it and an observer would see and hear evidence of this. But engaged doesn't always equate to learning or enjoying. We need to go further along the scale for that - all the way to 'absorbed': the children are 'into it like a new hobby'; they 'use what they know'; they 'got to choose'; they 'don't want to stop or do the next lesson'
This is the first A, absorbed. The other two make the first more likely: autonomy and agency. Autonomy is the freedom and opportunity to choose, the opportunity to act independently. Agency is about having the capacity and power to take those opportunities.
To have a triple-A rated class, ask yourself -
How much autonomy do my children have? How much agency do they have to make use of their autonomy. And because of this, how often do they become authentically absorbed in their learning?
After lunch I visited the reception class and discovered triple-A learning in its purest form.