Through ATL in IB programmes, students develop skills that have relevance across the curriculum that help them “learn how to learn”. ATL skills can be learned and taught, improved with practice and developed incrementally. They provide a solid foundation for learning independently and with others. ATL skills help students prepare for, and demonstrate learning through, meaningful assessment. They provide a common language that students and teachers can use to reflect on, and articulate on, the process of learning.
IB programmes identify five ATL skill categories, expanded into developmentally appropriate skill clusters.
The focus of ATL in the MYP is on helping students to develop the self-knowledge and skills they need to enjoy a lifetime of learning. ATL skills empower students to succeed in meeting the challenging objectives of MYP subject groups and prepare them for further success in rigorous academic programmes like the IBDP and the IBCP.
In the MYP, ATL encompasses both general and discipline-specific skills. Many ATL skills are applicable to all MYP subject groups; these general “tools for learning” can be tailored to meet the specific needs of students and schools. In order to develop ATL skills that facilitate effective and efficient learning, students need models, clear expectations, developmental benchmarks (or targets) and multiple opportunities to practise. While ATL skills are not formally assessed in the MYP, they contribute to students’ achievement in all subject groups.
The most effective way to develop ATL is through ongoing, process-focused disciplinary and interdisciplinary teaching and learning. This can be achieved by using a wide range of content, developed through MYP key and related concepts and global contexts, as a vehicle for teaching effective learning strategies. Likewise, ATL skills can be powerful tools for exploring significant content. This dual focus (content and process, knowledge and skills) promotes student engagement, deep understanding, transfer of skills and academic success.
Over time, students should develop clear and sophisticated understandings of how they learn best and how they can evaluate the effectiveness of their learning. This kind of self-regulated (independent and autonomous) learning helps students:
ATL skills are informed by, and support the development of, the attributes of the IB learner profile. They are often interconnected. Individual skills and skills clusters frequently overlap and may be relevant to more than one skill category.
Some of the key questions to be answered by students with respect to ATL skills include the following.
When specific ATL skills become an explicit focus for teaching and learning, students can begin to take responsibility for their own development. Over time, students can identify themselves and their competence in any learning strategy using terms like the following.
Novice/beginning—students are introduced to the skill, and can watch others performing it (observation)
Learner/developing—students copy others who use the skill and use the skill with scaffolding and guidance (emulation)
Practitioner/using—students employ the skill confidently and effectively (demonstration)
Expert/sharing—students can show others how to use the skill and accurately assess how effectively the skill is used (self-regulation)
A concept-driven curriculum that uses ATL skills effectively enables all students to become stronger, more self-regulated learners. The following tables show the ATL skills framework that will be used over the five-years of MYP in the various activities in class, assessments (formative and summative), projects and external examinations.