ATL articulation through the Core and Policies, Part 2

Part 2, ATL Articulation through the Core and Policies

Criterion B in all MYP subjects including the Projects and Interdisciplinary Units (IDU)  explicitly unpack within its strands a learning cycle or process. Year 1s spent some time thinking about learning cycles, and below is an example of their understanding.

Cycles Are by a MYP Year 1 Student
Cycles Are by a MYP Year 1 Student

The thinking visible in the sample above teaches us a few things.

First, this student came to the MYP through the PYP. Within a 30-minute engagement, this student was able to easily make connections between all subjects through his thinking about the learning cycles present in MYP.

This teaches us the value of allowing students to transfer learning how to learn from the transdisciplinary framework of PYP into the interdisciplinary framework of the MYP. In the PYP, the thought boundaries between the disciplines are blended within an inquiry. When students move into the MYP, the disciplines become more pronounced within their thought boundaries, but there are numerous connections within and through the MYP subjects, which allow students to transfer learning across and through different disciplines. (One way to visualize the difference between transdisciplinary to interdisciplinary is through Clint Hamada’s visualization of these.) A way by which students might transport learning from one discipline to another in MYP is through the cycles of learning.

The student’s understanding in the above example also teaches us that ATL skills are implicit in how we learn throughout the IB continuum. From the thinking engagement about learning cycles, these are what the Year 1 students generalized, below.

Concept formation : cycles 1
Concept attainment : cycles from Year 1
Self talk from Year 1
Self talk from Year 1
Self-talk from Year 1
Self-talk from Year 1
Generalization about learning in MYP from Year 1 student
Generalization about learning in MYP from Year 1 student

We may also learn something about the students’ learning from their thinking visible in what they wrote. For instance:

  • there is clear concept attainment illustrated above, for the concept of learning as a cycle
  • students in Year 1 have some proficiency in self-talk, a social-emotional learning skill, which helps them be mindful and resilient
  • students are able to synthesize their learning about learning cycles
  • students are able to transfer learning from their transdisciplinary experience in PYP to their interdisciplinary experiences in MYP

We learn from the students’ responses to the learning about learning cycles engagement, that students have the dispositions allowing their thinking to be provoked into deliberate use of ATL skills. This deliberate activation of prior learning is explicit in our unit planning process. Used skillfully, inquiry-based approaches to learning in the MYP become journeys to understanding which students traverse, using ATL skills of critical thinking, social-emotional skills and other skills to deliberately seek improvement and achievement –in other words, to approximate and then become independent inquirers.

Transfer through the Core: Projects, Service as Action and Interdisciplinary Learning

Transfer, the ATL skill learners must draw upon to make connections between themselves and their learning, concepts and contexts across subjects, and to the world, is a skill set manifested through the Core of the MYP.

When we plan learning for IDU, we draw upon the relationships of concept(s)-to-concept(s), concept-to-content, concept-to-context, between disciplines, across a subject, learner to world, learner to others, between the learner to all things. These relationships are cognitive spaces wherein the learner can explore connections, describe, design, create…name a command term and a learner is able to apply it by deliberate use of ATL skills, to transform learning.

The MYP core–IDU, Service as action, Projects–allow learners multiple opportunities for transfer. Interdisciplinary connections, principled action, and Projects are ways by which learners manifest ATL skills to do something with what they know and understand with and without of the MYP subjects. The MYP requirements for SA and IDU are opportunities for educators to design thoughtful attention to how students might use thinking, research, social skills, self-management, and communication skills to integrate areas of knowing and ways of knowing into new understanding through IDU and the Personal Project, and to take principled action through Service as action and the Community Project.

In the continuum, the core of the IB culminates in CAS, TOK and the EE. In the Diploma core, we envision learners to be self-directed as they deliberately use the approaches to learning skills in taking action, using transfer in an unceasing basis in TOK (Hedrick, personal conversation), and demonstrating a masterful array of ATL skills and IB ethos as they create the Extended Essay.

ATL through MYP Partnerships and our Policies

The ATL skills categories (communication, social, self-management, research, thinking) suggest partnerships within the MYP, which we can use as collaborative spaces for integrated implementation.

What are some interdisciplinary partnerships we can use? Alignment of criteria in our current MYP allows us to use a deliberate language for understanding and communicating about learning.

Alignment of Criteria in MYP (IBO, 2014). Based on Subject Guides in MYP (2014).
Alignment of Criteria in MYP (IBO, 2014). Based on Subject Guides in MYP (2014).

Through the chart above we learn that:

  • Criterion A draws upon the disciplinary knowledge and understanding. A look at the criterion A strands gives us the range of ways by which students access areas of knowing through ways of knowing.
  • Criterion B uses disciplinary method or process to engage students through an iterative learning cycle, inquiry-based approaches to learning
  • Criterion C calls upon specific thinking skills, both critical and creative, by which students might express outcomes of process used in Criterion B cycles
  • Criterion D calls upon higher order thinking skills such as synthesis and evaluation (Bloom’s taxonomy) to reflect upon authentic connections between learner and understanding, learner and subject/discipline, learner and the world

But even when the specific criterion calls for content and conceptual understanding, strands unpacking the criterion explicitly describe what students must do with what they know and understand. Take a look at the criterion strands: we will see skills performance within them. Our MYP learning framework gives us a dynamic and complex interaction of concept, context, content, attitudes and skills described by the criterion strands.

These opportunities for skills teaching and performance give us authentic links for partnerships within the framework of our subjects. We can link the Library with each subject through Criteria A and B, for one example. Students must practice mindfulness and the attitudes of Academic Honesty as they inquire, produce, process, evaluate, plan. Social and emotional learning is present as students persevere through many of the learning experiences described in our subject objectives, giving our Counseling department strong links to our curriculum. For examples students must necessarily practice ATL skills of mindfulness and resilience as they investigate, analyse, design.

The possibilities by which we expand these partnerships in our MYP are formally described in our policies. If we were to embark on an inquiry into coherence and articulation of ATL skills in our policies, what might we find?

Here are some sample questions that we have asked in our corner of the IB world:

How do students use ATL skills other than in the Communication cluster in language learning?
How do students use processes to approach language learning and learning through language?
How do students acquire a range of strategies for learning from collaborative engagements?
How might students develop their own approach given their individual dispositions, learning preferences and styles?
What opportunities might we provide students to demonstrate learning through these individual approaches? How might we expand their learning repertoire?

As a MYP educator, what is your inquiry into ATL articulation in your schools? Share your questions and thoughts with us in the comments.


Consider joining our informal dialog on Twitter through #MYPChat! Join our Twitter community on October 30 as we dialog on the significance of collaborative planning and reflection in MYP implementation.

MYPChat on Oct 30: Standard C1 in action
MYPChat on Oct 30: Standard C1 in action



Author: alavina

Cognitive Coach and author. I simplify personal power so you can use mental resources and find pathways to your goals, be more productive and feel in control every day.

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