Skip to main content Skip to footer

Increase Learner Engagement by Involving
Children in Your Planning


This is the second part of Mark's blog on his KWL Grid approach - click here for part one.


This is where you need to adapt and refine your planning. My advice here would be to ensure that you have sketched out an overview of the learning with your year group partner(s) – if you have them – and then agree what you will be delivering. Clearly this will be easier if you have an entire term to be able to deliver the learning, but even with half a term, at least one lesson can be set aside. To achieve this, you should consider:

  • What does the National Curriculum actually say?

A classic example here is UKS2 Science: Earth and Space. If you look at the statutory requirements the planets are not mentioned. They are in the non-statutory element but only insofar as knowing the solar system has eight planets and Earth is one of them. Clearly, there’s scope and time to play with here.

  • What is your learning outcome?

Ideally the learning in Geography, History, RE and Science should support the reading and writing curriculum, allowing the children to experience a wider range of literature and to be able to present writing in a variety of genres with a specific purpose. That is not to say that all learning should result in writing but considering how the children will reflect their learning and what to include will be important.

  • Can ideas be grouped?

For my learner who wanted to know about black people in Tudor times, this was incorporated into the planned learning of ‘Famous Tudors’ – it was just rebadged as ‘Non-Royal Tudors’ which then allowed an exploration of why it was only the wealthy had portraits. This, in turn, led to a consideration of how everyone creates and shares pictures nowadays.

  • If they really want to learn it, find time for them to present it.

Having written and presented extensively about completing homework differently (see Unhomework) this is an ideal opportunity for the children to conduct their own learning and then bring it back into the classroom. My only caveat is do not always do this, as the children will soon feel dismissed and get the impression their ideas are inconsequential.

  • Can you magpie from your year group partner(s)?

What did their class come up with? Would your class benefit from this as well? Don’t be afraid to have at least some content/lessons that are individual to your class, it should reflect their learning. The school website will reflect the overview of learning that all children will undertake but independence and nuance should be encouraged and developed. Unless you don’t want engaged independent learners.

Medium Term

This is where the teaching takes place and so the input from the children should have an impact here. Be prepared to signpost what you are coming to and share whose questions/ideas/input you are leaning on for your planning.

As the learning goes on the children will review their KWL grid, ideally weekly. I prefer to do this at the start of each lesson as it reminds the children of last lesson’s learning, as well as prompting any relevant questions for today’s lesson.

It is here that the children will, overtime, add to their ‘L’ section of the KWL grid. However, I have worked with colleagues who have used the KWL grid completion as a lesson review at the end of the learning, or even as a learning break in the middle of the lesson, so you can make your own choice too.

When you reflect on the lesson, especially when it is derived from a child’s input, be prepared to add a note or two about the learning and thoughts for the future.

Long Term

If you have a forward thinking Headteacher, you will spend at least two, if not three years in the same year group to be able to hone your understanding and craft with that curriculum. Therefore, next time you come to plan the learning for this topic, consider what you included from the children and exactly what you want to include for this series of planning. I’ve always found it useful to provide a general overview for the learners and to highlight what I have introduced from last year’s cohort and inform the children that they will similarly get to impact their own learning.

This means that, for a 12-week scheme of work, I tend to have at least two weeks ‘spare’ for the children to guide the direction of the learning. In doing this, you can avoid the fate of teaching the same thing, in the same way, at the same time every year, which is not only responsive and respectful to the learners, but also makes the learning delivery more enjoyable and varied for you – albeit meaning that you may have to control some of your natural ‘control freakery urges’!

Let me know how you get on and if you want even more practical, workable ideas like this, do check out my new book Independent Thinking on Primary Teaching.

Use the code 'ITL25' for 25% off the RRP of both my books and all other Independent Thinking Press titles, a special offer to celebrate 25 years of Independent Thinking books. [ITL]

Mark Creasy

Call us on +44(0)1267 211432 or email for a chat about Mark's prices, current availability and how to save money when you book.

About the author

Mark Creasy

Mark is a Year Five teacher who also has experience in secondary - a rare breed. He is the author of Unhomework, one of the many ways he helps teachers rethink why and what they do.

Enjoy a free consultation. Make a booking.
Haggle a bit. All acceptable.

Give us a call on +44 (0)1267 211432 or drop us a line at

We promise to get back to you reassuringly quickly. 

Let's assume you're happy to receive cookies from this website