Introducing the Learning Assets in Upper Primary

In this post I share some lessons for introducing the learning assets. Skip to the end if you’re looking for those.

This year my classroom co-teacher and I have been focusing on building the learning assets with our Year 4/5/6 students.

As documented by Kath Murdoch in her book The Power of Inquiry (2015), learning assets are skills we want our students to develop as inquirers that they can apply in a range of contexts. The learning assets are broad and each can be broken down into more specific skills which can develop in complexity with student needs. The learning assets are:

  • Collaborating
  • Self-management
  • Communication
  • Thinking
  • Research
  • Contribution.

I have come across many versions of models like this in education, for example Costa and Kallick’s Habits of Mind or Guy Claxton’s Learning Powers. At my school, we have chosen to pursue the learning assets model because it resonates with our focus on inquiry learning and student agency.

How we use the assets

This year, over the first few weeks of school with our 4/5/6s, we started every morning introducing a learning asset. We designed two-ish lessons for each asset to be introduced generally so that our students got a sense of what each one was about.

While we introduced each asset over a couple of lessons, this was by no means the end! The learning assets are now integrated into everything we do. Over the year, we are spending time diving deep into each asset and learning more sophisticated skills associated with each one. For example, developing our collaboration asset involves looking closely at how we give feedback effectively, and how we might respectfully disagree.

As well as this, learning asset language and skills are present in all we do. For example, we might ask “How might you use self-management in this decimals game?” or “How can collaboration help you work on this writing piece?”.

Our introductory activities

I’ve tried introducing the learning assets a few ways before – this has been the most successful for students, so I want to share the learning asset introductory activities we did (tidied up and improved with hindsight!) so you can use them too. You can see them on the slides below or view them here. Note that these lessons are missing the asset Contributor as it has been added recently so we are yet officially introduce it in our classroom.

I would love to hear from other educators who are using the learning assets, too. Let’s share ideas!

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