Approaches to Learning at Home

One of the pillars of an EISB education is “learning how to learn.” As an IB school, this idea is embodied in the Approaches to Learning, or ATLs.  In the MYP, students are graded according to the criteria for each of their subjects, but they are also expected to show knowledge and mastery of the ATLs: Communication, Social, Self-management, Research, and Thinking.  As a staff, we discuss which ATLs we are going to concentrate on in which subjects.  They can differ between year groups, from semester to semester, or even unit to unit.

We find ourselves in an unusual situation this month; once again, we’ve had to turn to online teaching and learning. It is a challenge for everyone involved, but it does present the opportunity for families to support students in their improvement of ATLs.  Here are some suggestions for working with the MYP ATLs while students are at home.

Communication covers both language and interaction of all kinds.  Suggest that students contact people they wouldn’t normally, or in ways they wouldn’t normally.  Instead of sending a text, write a handwritten note. Make them practice emailing teachers using their best language and including a proper greeting and closing. Encourage them to read, in any language, and talk about it with them afterward. Let them negotiate bedtimes or other small rule changes, with the condition that they have to give logical/useful arguments.

Social skills encompass mostly collaboration. Encourage responsible use of social networks to develop relationships. (Many classes already have their own Whatsapp groups.) Give them responsibilities at home, both on their own and shared with others. Discuss and model empathy, good leadership skills, and how to encourage others.

Self-management is a work-in-progress for many young people, and the current situation can make it even harder.  Support your student in finding ways to manage time and assignments.  Help them set up a space to work and gather their supplies.  Encourage them to create a timetable that includes their class schedule, homework time, and other activities.  For many students, it could be helpful to include time to reflect on what they learned in the course of the day or week.  If they are struggling to stay motivated, encourage them to talk about what they think is holding them back. 

Research can take many forms, not just a paper or project.  Encourage students to ask questions about current events and look up anything they don’t understand.  Discuss the sources they find and whether they are reliable. Share your own tips and tricks for remembering information.

Thinking seems like the most obvious learning tool; it is fairly self-explanatory, but there are still ways parents can help.  Encourage students to problem-solve or consider a situation from many points of view.  Make them brainstorm ideas, play word games, or find new uses for common items. 

These are just a few of the ways students can continue to “learn how to learn,” even from home.  Do you have questions or ideas?  Please feel free to contact me at kerwin@eisbratislava.org.

Ms. Lisa Kerwin, MYP Coordinator

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