Monday, 30 April 2012

Secret SOLO'ist part 2

I seem to have caught the SOLO taxonomy bug lately and am looking to develop its use in my lessons.  If you haven't already read my previous post, in a nutshell, I am going on a bit of a trial run with my classes in secret before I roll it out properly in September.  The aim in this trial is to get a bank of ideas, resources and activities (which work).

On my second SOLO attempt, I thought I'd have a go at something called 'Fact in Fiction'.  Now this came about after reading @DKMead's blog and seeing an activity that really fits into our GCSE PE Physiology unit.  This unit tends to contain a lot of facts and details which can become a little heavy and uninspiring at times.

If you never heard of this before, @DKMead explains it very well here, but here is my very simplified overview:

As @DKMead explains in his blog, " it involves writing a fictional story inserting relevant facts"To begin with you need to pick a topic with lots of factual information.  For this purpose I chose both the muscular and skeletal system in our subject.  After you have moved learners up the taxonomy, you can use Fact in Fiction as either a Relational or Extended Abstract task as it forces learners to apply their knowledge in an abstract way.  You need to create an opening to a story and leave it at a point where key information about the topic is about to be shared.  At this point, learners take over and finish the story, including a checklist of key terms or facts.  They are forced to explain the topic in detail, using relevant terminology and linking all of the processes, but using their creativity to fit it into the theme of the fictional story.

One of the FIF tasks I created
Click to enlarge

This is one I created based on the Muscular system.  The story leads up to a point where the main character will need to explain the system to another person.  In this case it is to a younger cousin.  By having such a specific angle, in this case a youngster, learners will need to carefully select appropriate language and use analogies to make it clear. 

At the bottom of the story is a list of key points that the learners must include in their finished story.  These must be underlined or highlighted in order to reinforce understanding as my learners complete the task.

I also allow learners to choose whether to complete the task as either a script or as a story.  This allowed them some flexibility as they attempted this for the first time.

Learners then go off and finish the stories as set out.

I set this as a homework task as I knew that it would take time and asked learners to upload it onto Edmodo for marking.  Even though it was their first attempt, I am pleased to say that the quality of the work handed in was really good.  The way many of them continued the theme of the story so well or added extras such as humour was refreshing to read.  The use of analogies and simplified terminology to explain the systems to a younger character was amazing and demonstrated the learners had a real understanding.  The quality of the Skeletal FIF task I set (the class had an option to choose) was equally as good.  I also had a real mix of scripts and stories which again made the marking of the less monotonous (I love it when homework surprises me and is unique!)

Students work page 1 - Click to enlarge

Students work page 2 - Click to enlarge

The one aspect that a few learners missed out was the highlighting of key words but this was easily rectified in lesson when I got them to do it retrospectively.  Two learners also missed the story part and simply used the checklist as sub headings and put relevant information underneath.  Not what I asked for but they still showed understanding.

Even though it does take some thinking to write out the opening of stories, the reward and depth of their understanding is really clear to see.  Definitely a SOLO task that I will use in the future!

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