Your Guide to Approaches to Learning Skills in the MYP
Unpacking the what, why, and how of ATL skills

– Robert Greene

Skill-based learning is the need of the hour in a dynamic, fast-paced world. The IB’s approaches to learning (ATL) skills provides a framework to understand the skills students should develop in order to become better learners, both inside and outside the classroom. However, selecting and aligning ATL skills with taught content to create meaningful learning experiences for students can often feel challenging. Moreover, schools also need to ensure that opportunities to develop these skills are distributed evenly across all subject groups which involves efficient collaboration amongst teaching teams. To give you a headstart, we have designed this comprehensive guide as your companion for inquiring into ATLs in your MYP classroom.

This guide and the accompanying resources are divided into three parts, which will help you navigate three key questions about ATLs:

  1. Part 1: What are the approaches to learning skills and why are they important?
  2. Part 2: How do we integrate ATLs into our own subjects and the wider school curriculum?
  3. Part 3: How can we report skill progression?

With each accompanying resource, we have also highlighted how you could use it with your team or in your class. Excited? Let’s get started.

Please note:

We designed this guide to be navigated sequentially. That being said, this is your inquiry so feel free to jump around to the sections you find most relevant to your context.


Part 1: What are the approaches to learning skills and why are they important?

Understanding what the structure of the ATL framework is, and why skills need to be taught explicitly, is the first step towards helping our students imbibe said skills. Skill-building looks very different across classroom contexts. But behind the scenes, teaching teams need to be aligned on the vocabulary for ATLs and why they should be integrated into classroom teaching and learning.

In this first section, you can:

  • Get an overview of the ATL skills framework for the MYP, and why we ‘teach skills’. Read more and get your hands on a set of interactive ATL posters you can use in your classrooms!

Part 2: How do we integrate ATLs into our own subjects and the wider school curriculum?

Having understood the importance of skill-building, we need to be able to determine how we will help our students build these skills. Every MYP unit is a potential sandbox for building different kinds of skills. As such, it often becomes difficult for us to identify which skills we will explicitly teach. In our confusion, we either pass over important skill-building opportunities or ‘tick-off’ more than we can metaphorically chew. Moreover, we’re often unable to keep a track of whether students got sufficient opportunities to develop and practice these skills across the five years of the MYP.

In this section, you can:

  • Understand how to meaningfully include ATL skills in your unit planners. Watch this video to learn how to craft robust ATL statements and ensure students get appropriate learning opportunities to practice and develop skills.
Please rectify the errors in your form