So, what are the ATL skills? The ATL skills are broken into 5 categories with each category being broken down further into a specific list of sub-skills. Here is a quick glimpse into these 5 areas.
In order to deeply unpack ATL skills, teachers must narrow the focus, therefore it is critical to select just a few to focus on. When I say a few, I mean no more than 3, especially in the single subjects as the teachers of PE, Music, Art, and Library have so little time with students.
I want to provide a practical example of what narrowing the focus really looks and feels like in relation to ATL skill development. To give you some background, the example you will see is from our grade 3 ‘Landforms’ unit of inquiry that is currently taking place at Gardens Elementary School.
In a previous blog post, I wrote about the Levels of Integration. A Level 3 integration is the highest level of integration there is between the single subjects and the classroom unit of inquiry. This is when both the single subject teachers and the classroom teachers are focused on using the same central idea, key concepts, and related concepts in their units. The collaboration that takes place is specific, purposeful, and meaningful.
A Level 1 integration is the lowest level of integration, however, some great learning can still take place. In a Level 1 integration the common connection between the single subjects and the classroom unit of inquiry is either a Learner Profile attribute or an ATL skill. At minimum it is at least one ATL or Learner Profile attribute.
Now getting back to the grade 3 ‘Landforms’, the classroom teachers are really focused on the the ATL skill ‘Resolving Conflict’ which falls under the overarching theme of Social Skills. The classroom teachers decided to focus on this ATL skill as their students will be doing a lot of group work in the ‘Landforms’ unit and are likely to encounter conflict when working together.
As our PE department is currently doing an Adventure Challenge unit, the ATL skill ‘Resolving Conflict’ fits perfectly into their unit. ‘Resolving Conflict’ is the glue that holds together both the Adventure Challenge and Landforms unit. Therefore, the collaboration taking place with single subject teachers is specific and purposeful. In an effort to honor every teacher’s time and to maximize opportunities for genuine collaboration, the specific focus in our collaborative planning meetings in grade 3 will be around the ATL ‘Resolving Conflict’. There will be deep and meaningful dialogue related to how best to unpack this ATL in the classroom and in PE.
As I am co-teaching the grade 3 Adventure Challenge unit with my colleague, Bill Kelly (you can find Bill Kelly here on Twitter), we are diving deeply into unpacking ‘Resolving Conflict’ through a variety of challenges in our unit. We are actually unpacking this ATL before the classroom teachers. Going into week 3 of this unit, the classroom teachers can now use what we’ve unpacked in PE with their own students in the classroom. The teachers will access this prior knowledge in order to unpack ‘Resolving Conflict’ even further.
The visual below is what we created based on the ideas that grade 3 students came up with in regards to specific conflict they have experienced in the Adventure Challenge unit. Based on their ideas, I created the visual for Bill and I to use in PE. I took a photo of this visual and passed it on to the one of the grade 3 teachers to use in her classroom space once she begins to unpack ‘Resolving Conflict’ with her students. She can use what they’ve already learned in order to springboard the discussion further.
The bigger vision and goal that we have in regards to planning ahead is that the grade 3 classroom teachers and PE teachers (including myself) will co-construct a ‘Resolving Conflict’ rubric that the students can use to self-assess themselves and to assess their peers with the specific focus being on how well they were able to resolve conflicts when working together with their classmates.
How do you unpack ATLs in your school? How do you ensure relevant and meaningful connections to all learning in relation to the ATLs? Would love to hear some of your experiences. Thanks for reading.