ABCDEs of Learner Needs

Explore the various needs of your students or staff. Work together to think how to meet those needs.

What you will need

Time estimate

20 minutes to complete the survey

15 - 45 minutes to debrief

pen, handouts (see below), projector (optional)


  1. Introduce the activity, without sharing much detail.

  2. Explain how to use the assessment sheet to score yourself - for each row, number the cluster of words from 1-5, with 5 being the most important to you throughout your life. You cannot give two clusters in the same row the same number.

  3. Allow participants to complete the assessment, then have them use the scoring key. This is provided as a powerpoint or as a printout. Use the key by adding together the numbers for each color. For example, find which clusters are marked blue and add those numbers together.

  4. Share the key that correlates color to a need.

    • blue = ​autonomy

    • red = belonging

    • purple = competence

    • orange = developmental appropriateness

    • green = engagement

  5. Independently, have the participants read the descriptions of the 5 needs found on the explanation sheet.

  6. There are several options for debriefing this activity, depending on time and need. Some suggestions are listed below.

    • Participants talk to a partner or as a whole group about their top need is met for them an adult.

    • Break into groups by top need. Have them discuss how their need is met as an adult.

    • Think about your kids in your classroom.  You have students who fit each of these needs.  Take a minute and write down what you already to do meet each of these needs. Then take one, give one by rotating through partners and sharing things from your list.

Read more about William Glasser's Choice Theory, which this activity was based upon.

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