Approaches to teaching Biology - ATL

Sunday 2 December 2018

Individual music lessons - as a model for ATL

I've thought for a while that one of the transferable benefits of students learning a musical instrument is the coaching they get in how to learn. Music teachers can achieve this with their students in groups, in orchestra, bands, and in one to one lessons. I'm an amateur musician which kindled my interest.  I've often admired good conductors and good music teachers who I've known.

I was watching a video of a music lesson about something I'd really love to be able to do one day.  It's a video of a 45 minute lesson with an adult learner and I noticed that the teacher give endless encouragement, nodding, smiling, pointing out positive achievement. Nothing is graded as, "wrong" but many things require the student to, 'try it a little more like this.", or "could you sing it so that I could write it down". In addition to this "Process praise" I couldn't help noticing several IB ATLs.

I'd like to point to five places in the video which illustrate some of the pedagogical principles underpinning IB ATL.  Would it be possible to do these things in IB Biololgy?  See more about approaches to teaching and learning in the IB here.

  • assessment, 0-5 minutes - to inform the teacher of student prior knowledge, to begin with.
  • structured inquiry, 5 minutes - after a little teaching - the teacher says, "think of something!"
  • helping students less, 32 - 33 minutes - a reflection on the importance of teaching how to learn.
  • student choice, 33:40 - the student is asked, "what do you want to do next?"
  • understanding of the learning sequence, 43 minutes - The student and the teacher discuss how to learn this particular skill

Here's the video -

While this video is very different from an IB Biology lab, as Biology teachers we do get close to this sort of coaching in the IA.
  1. To what extent do you think that these ATL methods are achievable in the IB Biology classroom?
  2. How would you do each one?

Please do add your comments.


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