Aproaches to Teaching and Learning (ATTL or is it ATL?) represents a progressive and explicit focus from the IB on ensuring the philosophy of the organisation is delivered and experienced within the classroom. It was launched in January 2015 and it is to be hoped that you have been made aware of the plentiful resources available within the OCC Teaching via your Diploma Co-ordinator, If not, go explore. In essence, as teachers we are encouraged to ensure the deilivery of our content is:

  • based on inquiry
  • focused on conceptual understanding
  • developed in local and global contexts
  • focused on effective teamwork and collaboration
  • differentiated to meet the needs of all learners
  • informed by assessment (formative and summative)

So what does is mean in biology to teach with inquiry? Why is it important?

Because when students inquire, they are asking and answering their questions and learning becomes an authentic pursuit of knowledge, connecting the learner with the world around them. Learning becomes an inspirational and passionate experience that is free of the “must do, have to, its in the test” replaced with the “want to…”,  engaging students in a journey that more often than not, has no pre-determined end point and where questions solved begets new questions to be asked.

The TEDx video below addresses five essential components of inquiry-based (Student-centred) learning as presented in the video:

  1. The asking of testable questions,
  2.  investigation for data – past and present,
  3. connecting the topic to the learner,
  4. discussion with family-friends-experts,
  5. reflection,

[youtube id=”jr63RDHI-DM”]

There exists many websites that provide theory, definitions and process to facilitate inquiry based learning such as THIS and this which explains and illustrates Problem Based Learning as delivered by a high-school teacher. HERE you find Science magazine praising inquiry based learning of introductory biology at the University of Minnesota.

How do YOU ensure delivery of biology is inquiry based? How do you configure the syllabus to allow students to learn through asking questions? what does a good question look like? (testable and with no yes/no answer – one that promotes investigation and further learning to take place).

These points are worth reflecting on as you rest over the summer, (or continue to deliver the programme if its your winter months).