The IB Approaches to Learning (ATL) embody the main pedagogical principles that underpin delivery of the IB programmes. The IB Approaches to Learning are skills and attitudes that allow students to develop as self-regulated learners, able to set and meet learning goals, generate motivation, self-interrogate, show perseverance, be resilient and reflect on their achievements. 

In the wake of COVID-19, when so many of us suddenly found ourselves teaching in unfamiliar contexts, educators have faced a the challenge of incorporating teaching ATLs in the virtual learning environment.  

It could be argued, however, that it has never been more important to deliver learning  experiences that foster the IB ATLs through inquiry-based and collaborative approaches. 

In this blog, you‘ll find flexible adaptive strategies to develop the ATLs across different learning settings, subjects and age ranges in MYP, DP and CP classrooms, whether face-to-face or online. 

Icon clockv21. Clock Buddies

Purpose

Clock buddies can be used over multiple lessons to quickly assign partners for experiential learning or project based-learning outcomes. 

This strategy encourages organisational, self-management and collaborative skills as students work together to perform the activity. 

Instructions 

Give students a blank clock and ask them to circulate around the room to find partners for each clock hour. Once students have made appointments by filling in their clock, you can quickly pair up students for future activities by saying things like: “Everyone stand up and find your 2 o’clock partner. Instead of a clock template you could use Map Buddies, Compass buddies or Shape buddies.

In the virtual learning environment

Use a group making tool like this one from Instant Classroom or breakout rooms in Zoom. 

Icon stump my partnersv22. Stump my Partner

Purpose 

This strategy first encourages critical thinking skills, as learners create questions for the opposing team. The second part encourages collaboration, open-mindedness and reflection, as learners make decisions about whether to answer based on their own understanding or whether to work as a team.

Use this strategy when you want students to demonstrate inquiry or open-mindedness as it supports IB pedagogical principles of inquiry-based learning and collaboration, and fosters thinking and self-management skills. 

Instructions 

This strategy works well as a whole class activity. 

  1. Divide the class into two teams. 
  2. Assign numbers to members of both the teams. For instance, Team A & Team B each have student 1, student 2, student 3 and so on. 
  3. Ask learners to come up with a name for their team. 
  4. Give time to both the groups to prepare questions on the topic.
  5. Student 1 from Team A asks their question to Student 1 from Team B. 
  6. The responding student can choose whether to answer the question themselves or work with their team to figure out the answer. 
  7. Scores are calculated based on whether the questions are answered individually or with the help of the team. 

In the virtual learning environment

Use breakout rooms to create teams and to prepare questions, and then carry out the questioning activity back in the main session.

Icon socratic seminarv23. Socratic Seminar

Purpose

This strategy encourages higher-order thinking skills and self-management as students follow a sequenced protocol to explore open-ended questions. Use this strategy when you want students to be reflective and open-minded. 

Instructions

This strategy works well as a whole class activity. 

  1. Select a topic that you want students to understand more thoroughly. It works well to set a required reading task for the students prior to the seminar. 
  2. Before the seminar, prepare interpretive questions that do not have a right or wrong response, but will instead invite thought and expression. This template is a useful resource to support the writing of questions.
  3. Up to 15 students sit in a circle. For a larger class, students could take turns sitting in the “inner circle” that is observed by the “outer circle” of students. 
  4. Set rules for the seminar including:
    • Each student should participate. You may want to start the discussion with a Round Robin so that each student has an initial opportunity to participate. 
    • Students speak directly to each other (one at a time) so there is no discussion leader. 
    • Students should provide evidence for each statement they make and identify its source (personal experience, reading, etc.). 
    • Students can disagree with others in a respectful manner. 
    • Optionally, you can use a “talking piece” – something a speaker must be holding to have the floor. 
  5. Pose an open-ended question to the group that you want them to think about thoroughly. Some example questions include:  
    • How is _______ similar to [another subject we’ve discussed] 
    • What do you think another point of view would be on this issue? 
    • What does it mean to be human?

In the virtual learning environment

Flipgrid is a tool designed to capture the voice of every student. This is ideal for sharing student responses to open questions. It can also be used when students are absent or unable to participate in the socratic seminar.

Icon know your partnersv24. Know your partner

Purpose

This strategy encourages affective skills as students learn about each other and develop respect for others’ opinions and choices. It also encourages emotional well-being through the development of authentic connections with one another. 

Instructions

  1. Ask students to gather around a table and form an inner and outer circle. 
  2. Ask the students to sit facing each other, so they form partners. 
  3. Have each team member share a unique trait about themselves to the partner which is not known to the class. Consider using a sentence starter such as: “One thing you can’t tell by looking at me is…” or “One thing I am really good at is…”
  4. Once the discussion is done, partners share each other’s unique traits to the whole class. 
  5. This activity can be adapted to explore different hobbies, likes and interests.

In the virtual learning environment

Word Clouds by Mentimeter can be used to capture commonalities – the biggest words are the ones that are entered the most frequently by the group. 

Zoom backgrounds are a great way to invite students to show their unique interests and experiences – ask them to use a photo of their favorite holiday destination, their favorite animal or their funniest meme. 

Finally, add a bit of fun to your online classes by asking students to dress up by themes: you’ll be surprised what you can learn about one another when wearing your most eccentric headwear or your cosiest sweater.

Icon bridgev25. Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges

Purpose

This strategy encourages critical thinking, reflection and open-mindedness. It supports students to reflect on different perspectives in local and global contexts. It also fosters research skills.

Instructions

  1. Students discuss a series of pictures based on race, class, gender or environmental problems.
  2. After the discussion, students reflect their thoughts and discussions in a writing journal. 
  3. Then students use their journal responses to synthesize and take action to break barriers they have identified in their own world. 
  4. Finally, students read the topic and discuss how the topic relates to the pictures they discussed.

Examples: 

In a science classroom, pictures of climate change or pollution can be used where students  synthesize solutions to these problems. 

In an Individual and Societies classroom pictures of different governments can be used to  understand the topic of Governing bodies in the world, so students can criticise the strengths and weaknesses of these governments. 

In a Language and Literature classroom, this strategy helps to provoke thoughts during a  novel study. 

In a virtual learning environment

Capture students’ ideas and reflections in a visual way on Padlet.

Icon learningv26. Learning Circles

Purpose

This strategy encourages students to receive and give meaningful feedback, and respect the opinions and choices of others. It also fosters reflection, collaboration and communication skills as students are encouraged to share their thinking with the group.

Instructions

  1. Prepare open-ended questions in advance, e.g. “What makes this topic interesting?”
  2. Students form circles in small groups (3-5 students).
  3. Present the first question to the class (read aloud or post on the board).
  4. Students reflect in writing on large post-it notes and then share out their answers verbally one by one. 
  5. Other members of the group then take turns to give feedback, comments or ask questions.
  6. Students stick their post-it notes up on the wall to create a gallery of ideas, from which students can read about the views and discussions that happened in different groups.

In the virtual learning environment

Check out Wonder.me as an alternative to the usual video conferencing platforms. Students can move themselves around between groups and strike up conversations as they go. 

Jamboard is a great tool for collecting ideas and reflections on specific topics or questions.

Icon assessv27. Assess Me

Purpose

Metacognitive formative assessments are used to help students reflect on their process and progress. Students receive feedback from peers and instructors. It provides a chance for students to practice self-regulation and make changes to future behaviors. Use this strategy to foster resilience, affective and self-management skills. 

Instructions

Use formative assessments that are metacognitive. Consider these examples. 

  1. Muddiest point (one minute paper) 
    • What do you understand/not understand after today’s class? 
    • What one question do you still have? 
  2. Exam wrappers
    • How did you study this time, what worked/didn’t work, how would you study differently? 
    • What did you get wrong on the exam and why? Where did you find the answer, could you solve/answer a new problem on the same topic now? 
  3. Redo
    • Pick a questions you answered incorrectly on the test. 
    • Explain what you were thinking when you wrote/selected that answer.
    • Explain how you figured out the correct answer. 

In a virtual learning environment

Use assessment tools as AssessPrep, Quiziz or Kahoot to gamify assessment and capture student reflections afterwards using Padlet.

Icon doodlev28. Doodle express

Purpose

This strategy encourages creative thinking and reflective skills. Use this strategy with students who prefer to communicate with artistic expression over words. 

Instructions

Ask students to express their thoughts in the form of art rather than words. Students reflect what they understood in a lesson through a doodle activity. Read more about the benefits of doodling on student learning here.

In the virtual learning environment

Encourage student’s creativity online with Sketchnoting or use Mural for collaborative mind mapping and visualisation activities. 

Alternatively, take the work offline and ask students to use the ManageBac built-in mobile scanner to upload an image of their product.

Icon screet codev29. Secret Code

Purpose

This strategy encourages communication and thinking skills. This strategy works particularly well with students learning subject specific terminology.

Instructions

Create terminology cards where the cards contain part but not all of a word. For example, if students are learning the term “semi-lunar valve” this could be split into three cards: semi, lunar, valve. 

This could be made more challenging by using sounds: se, mi, lu, nar, val, ve  

Deal the deck of cards so each student has multiple pieces. Students circulate around the class to ‘crack the secret code’ and find the pieces of their word.

In the virtual learning environment

WebQuest is an inquiry-based activity where students are given a task and provided with access to online resources to help them complete the task.

References

Chowning, Jeanne Ting (2009). “Socratic Seminars In Science Class: Providing a structured format to promote dialogue and understanding.” Science teacher (Normal, Ill.) vol. 76,7: 36-41. 

Gutierez, Sally. (2017). Breaking barriers: Research-based collaborative professional  development between in-service teachers and university researchers. New Trends and  Issues Proceedings on Humanities and Social Sciences. 4. 261-269. 10.18844/prosoc.v4i1.2264.

 

Saibhavya Prabuv1

Saibhavya Prabu started her career as a researcher at the Oral Cancer Institute (ACTREC) and moved into teaching over a decade ago with the aim of enhancing equity in education. Currently she is ATL skills coordinator, teacher of MYP Sciences and IBDP Biology /ESS, and Head of Science Department at NES International School, Mumbai.

A Certified Trainer in Concept-based Curriculum & Instruction, Saibhavya has built her own repertoire of practices for teaching learning. Being a digitally certified educator, she embraces technology to enhance the teaching and learning process. Saibhavya is also an examiner for IB Diploma and CAIE.