Approaches to T&L

Rather than copy and paste the Approaches to Teaching and Learning, here we give you:

  • A personal interpretation of the IB document "Approaches to teaching and learning".
  • Examples of how we can and do approach the teaching of physics in different ways.
  • Examples of how we can encourage our students to develop good learning skills.
  • A template for how to construct a unit planner for the Physics course.
  • My unit planners for the whole course including links to material on this site.
  • An honest exploration of some of the problem areas.

I was going to call this section "unit planners" but unit planners are just a way to help organise the course, encouraging teachers to think about approaches to teaching and learning. Before making a unit planner one needs to be able to classify activities in terms of the different teaching / learning objectives. In constructing the plan it might become obvious that some of the objectives are missing in which case new resources need to be developed or found. To do all of this one needs to have an understanding of the approaches to teaching and learning (ATLs) as specified by the IB. You can find all the information on the OCC but this isn't specific to physics. What I will attempt to do here is to layout what this means to me as an IB Diploma physics teacher giving examples of how some of our old tricks still fit the bill and some new tricks to expand our repertoire. After full consideration of the ATLs I will then construct my unit planners for the year based on the resources available on the site. I should make it clear that what follows is my personal interpretation of ATLs, it should be read alongside the official document, approaches to teaching and learning.

The IB subject guides have always specified what topics we should teach but has left the way we teach those topics up to the individual teacher. The only guidance was that a certain amount of time should be spent on practical work which should incorporate 5 IT skills, the rest was open. You could teach the whole course via power point lectures, online video or via a problem based approach.

My course at RCN has been fairly traditional teaching from the front, using many simulations, demonstrations, video clips etc. on my SMART board. You may have heard of the "sage on the stage" well I am the "Lord of the board". Once a week we would have a practical class to reinforce the theory and scaffold skills. Assessment would be done using short tests at the start of each class, these tests are based on the work covered in the previous class.

The document Approaches to teaching and learning gives guidance on how the subject should be taught. The IB has always had the Learner Profile students should be Inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open minded, caring, risk takers, balanced and reflective. We have already been trying to design our courses in a way so as to encourage these attributes, this new document simply helps us to do this.

Lord of the board no more

Since writing these pages I have given up on the board and have turned my course into a totally student centred one. I have prepared a whole set of Activities that guide the students through all parts of the course. My role is guide not dictator. I'm still getting used to this new role and it's not easy, even boring at times, but I think my students are developing a deeper understanding.

I think Derek Muller sums it all up very well in this clip.

Approaches to Teaching

There are 6 key principles to the approaches to teaching IB courses, the programme should be:This doesn't mean that every lesson has to incorporate all of these components but the complete 2 year course...

Approaches to Learning

Approaches to teaching refers to the way we present the course approaches to learning is about the way it is received. To receive the knowledge presented by the teacher a student must have certain skills,...


In line with the approaches to teaching and learning, I am moving to a more student-centred approach. Instead of me standing by the board asking question,s the students now sit by their computers and...

Problem Based Learning (PBL)

This set of activities are designed for enthusiastic second year students with a good background knowledge of physics who have followed the 1st year activities and have a good working knowledge of Geogebra,...

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