Approaches to Learning, Learning, Publications, Technology

Into Alignment

Approaches to Learning (ATL) are a hot topic at my school at the moment.  We recently had Lance G. King at school to guide our understanding of how ATLs can and should be embedded in our teaching and how this long list of skills and executive functions can significantly impact our students.

With this in mind, and with a desire to see technology integration become a more fluid part of our program, I typed all the ATLs into a document. Tedious but also helpful, giving me time to think about each one and its connection to technology.  I then pulled up the new ISTE Standards for Students.


7 standards, each with four descriptors. I copied and pasted next to what I felt was a correlating ATL. A third column saw me list possible scenarios you might see in which these skills and standards were put into effect.

Confusing? Hopefully more clear if you take a look here:


My thoughts upon doing this?

  • I found the process was super helpful in taking a wide lense look at how everything can and should work together
  • I wondered, “Who else is doing this?” and “Can we do it together?!” I did google around a bit before starting and I know of one person who is starting down this road but would love to hear from anyone else also doing this or who would like to join me in working on this. Let me know and I can share the Google Doc with you.
  • I realized I am far from done! Here are my next steps:


  1. There are some ISTE standards that hit more than one ATL or standards that only partially apply to an ATL so I need to duplicate and add, and I need to highlight the specific portions of standards that apply
  2. The “How might we….?” column needs to be added to, linking with existing sources and documentation and external websites and apps
  3. Consideration needs to be given to a fourth column that encompasses the Visual Literacy curriculum objectives as many of these can be taught in the context of technology usage, media creation, viewing and presenting. Likewise, there are considerable overlaps with Visual Art (the Elements of Art and, particularly, the Principles of Design) and with the Library scope and sequence documentation.

These ideas are less than 24 hours old so there is a lot of scope for development but I am intrigued to see how this will develop in terms of guiding teachers toward a more integrated approach to technology in (and out) of the classroom.

12 thoughts on “Into Alignment”

  1. Thanks for your reflection. I think we are experiencing quite a cultural and paradigm shift in the influence of technology in teach and learning. It is true to say technology has always influenced education. But what we are experiencing now is the speed of it influence and the options it is creating for both teacher and learner.

    1. I think the speed is sometimes a limiting factor for some teachers. Being comfortable with not being the one with the most knowledge is a challenge for some. Equally, being ok with the focus shifting to the process of learning rather than the product focus that encompasses many classrooms. I am excited by the options ahead.

  2. Hey Sonya! Funny, I’ve just been leading my Primary School digital leaders group through exactly this exercise with the PYP ATLs. I’d love to chat (since you’re right down the road!). We can share notes and see where it goes. From Kim at Bavarian International School.

    1. Kim! You are the “one person” I mentioned in the post! Leah asked me if I knew you so I googled you and found your blog with your post about this very thing which inspired me to get at it. I was looking for a way to bring in the ISTE standards without it being “one more thing” and our work on ATLs seemed like a great route – then I read your post! We are booked in for a visit to BIS on Jan 17, the city campus. I would love it if we could talk more then!

  3. Hi Sonya,
    This post is very timely for my school! We are currently on a similar journey and would love to talk more. We have been looking at how we can articulate a streamlined tech and library ‘curriculum’ as one, and our hunch is that almost all aspects will overlap with various PYP elements, especially ATLs, as well as viewing and presenting in our Language curriculum. Our current thinking is to use the ISTE standards as a base, add what we want for library, and then look at ATLs and other areas of our curriculum and figure out how to best represent it all. I find the third column you are developing particularly useful, both as a lens for the process of identifying connections to curricular areas and as a way for all potential users to develop understanding of the curriculum.
    Jessica – The KAUST School in Saudi Arabia

    1. Hi Jessica, I would be really interested in working with you on this and sharing our collective brain power! If you want to send me your email address, I can invite you to the document to collaborate or for you to make a copy and use/edit as you need. Sonya

  4. Greetings Sonya,

    I am very interesting in collaborating with you on aligning the ATL and ISTE standards. I am the ES librarian at an IB PRK – 12 school in Accra Ghana. You have been a part of my PLN for many years. We are using the ISTE standards school wide to drive our technology integration PRK- 12. I am really excited to be attending one of your sessions in Warsaw in April also!

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    1. Hi Lisa. Thanks for reaching out. It will be nice to meet you in person in Warsaw. Until then, I will send you access to the Google doc.Looking forward to seeing your ideas.

  5. Hi Sonya,
    I’m in Adelaide, South Australia and I would like to adopt your framework of the ATL with our Australian Curriculum General Capabilities. Well, I’ll see how I go anyway! Thanks for the tip.

  6. Hi Sonya,
    I know this is one of your older posts but I am very interested in looking at ISTE standards and ATLs. I am hoping you are still working on this project or have uncovered some interesting findings in your research. Happy to help and share.

    Greetings from Berlin,


    1. Hi Anthony, I haven’t picked this one back up in a while. Maggie in Mumbai has done a lot of work on this. I am happy to share the doc with you if you want to take a look and add on?

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