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(New) Approaches to Learning
Developing skills to make knowledge more powerful
Schools have many roles. One of these is preparing students for their lives in the world once they graduate. In the distant past, this consisted of filling
young heads with information, for example, latin verbs or capital cities or logarithmic tables. Knowledge is still important, but the world has changed and the old adage that “knowledge is power” may no longer be true.
With so much of the world’s knowledge literally at our fingertips, we can simply take out our phones, and using a search engine, we can discover anything we would like to know in a matter of seconds. Power now resides in the skills that we can develop to use this knowledge.
their skills.
These benefits will be helpful beyond FIS when stu- dents graduate and begin their careers. In a survey undertaken in the United States in 2013, 400 top cor- porate recruiters were asked to rank what they were looking for in future employees. The top seven were:
1. Oral and written communication skills
2. Critical thinking and problem solving skills 3. Professionalism and work ethic
4. Collaboration across networks
5. Ability to work in diverse teams
6. Fluency with Information Technology
7. Leadership and project management skills
These characteristics strongly correlate with the IBO ATLs, and a growing focus on these skills will help students to identify possible gaps in their own skill set and build on their strengths.
Adopting the ATLs is not a revolution in teaching; the IBO suggests that“ATLs have always been a part of IB Teaching.” Instead, it is a subtle shift to increase awareness of skills that are not always taught as part of a curriculum, but that will ultimately help our stu- dents. The future is never certain but by helping our students to develop transferable skills, FIS is giving them a World of Opportunities to succeed.
Tony Winch
FIS Instructional Coach
cording to Lance King, an internationally-recognized author and teacher who helped develop the ATLs for the IBO, will be reflected in students’ success rates in learning traditional subjects, performance in for- mative and summative assessments and all high- stakes exams as well as their ability to manage their own learning.
Our goal is to increase the students’ awareness of what they are doing and to help them to reflect upon and improve
 With this in mind, the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) decided that students needed to be“learning how to learn.”In 2015, the IBO began pro- moting the “Approaches to Teaching and Learning” (ATLs) to help better prepare students for the future
– one in which most of today’s students “will have jobs that haven’t yet been invented, (United States Department for Labor) and where they may have “10–14 different jobs by their late 30s.” (Lance King). To be able to succeed in that world, students need skills that can be applied across disciplines, and the ATLs provide these.
The skills are:
• Thinking skills - thinking critically and creatively in different contexts
• Communication skills
• Social skills
• Self-management skills
• Research skills
The vast majority of our students exhibit these skills everyday – they think about how to solve a math problem, communicate during a drama activity, so- cialize during lunchtime, self-manage themselves by making sure they finish their homework, and/or conduct research for projects. Our goal is to increase the students’ awareness of what they are doing and to help them to reflect upon and improve their skills.
Last year, FIS began introducing the ATLs, and is cur- rently looking at how to build these further in all students from Primary School through to Grade 12. This may be through age-related activities, self-re- flection, or simply by drawing student’s attention to skills they already exhibit or could benefit from im- proving. ATLs will improve student learning, and ac-
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