Saturday, 12 May 2012

The Secret SOLO'ist part 3b

If you haven’t already read the first part of this post, click here (or it might not make sense). 
After teaching my class the aerobic system and watching them fully understand it, it was time to move onto the anaerobic system.  Traditionally, it is at this stage that students begin to get confused and mix the two systems up.  Looking back through my old lesson resources, this is probably due to the way I taught it!  Because of my role within the T&L group at our school, I also invited our head of dept to come in and see SOLO in action.

Anaerobic Respiration System SOLO
Powerpoint that I used for the SOLO lesson.
I began the lesson again with a prompt question based on Usain Bolt which asked students to explain how the respiratory system was at work when he runs.  Quite quickly, students were able to see that the aerobic system which they learnt about yesterday couldn’t be the primary way of producing energy as a 100m race contradicts many of its key principles (aerobic system is used when there is a continuous supply of oxygen, when the exercise is low-medium intensity… Everything a 100m sprint isn’t).  This instantly got their curiosity going whilst allowing a number of students who are currently studying biology, the opportunity to bring that knowledge into the room.
The discussion this created got the students really engaged.  Some students had no idea what form of respiration was taking place (pre-structural).  A number of students were able to pull out the word ‘anaerobic respiration’ with no meaning – they had just heard it somewhere (uni-structural).  Some could add to this and talked about knowing lactic acid and other key points were involved somewhere ( mulit-structural).   It was a great starting point and allowed me a benchmark for which to measure progress.
I then began the ‘5 minute challenge’ in which I would teach the class all of the key points and terminology related to the anaerobic system.  Essentially, what I wanted here was to get everyone up to multi-structural and familiarise themselves with definitions or words that they needed to know.  It was brief and very shallow learning, only because I knew the next tasks would allow them a chance to independently work with the topic and dig deeper into its structure.  I just wanted to give them the confidence that when they set off to learn, they were researching the right key words and information.  After this 5 minutes (which in teachers terms actually lasted 10), I allowed them time as a table team to develop their notes and read up on the system using various resources.
With their knowledge (hopefully) up to multi-structural, I began stepping up the SOLO power.  I brought in a ‘Double Bubble’ graphic organiser also known as a ‘Compare & Contrast’ HOT map.  After explaining how it worked, the students had to show how the aerobic and anaerobic system had similarities and differences.  This was a huge success and students were very quickly engrossed in their learning and mapping out key points.  My role became that of a facilitator who shouted out good examples/points as I walked around the class.  This is probably the clearest that one of my classes had ever been about the two different systems and how they interlinked.
Using a Comprae & Contrast HOT map for the aerobic and anaerobic system.

I then asked them to relate this to sport (as it’s GCSE PE) and got them to see how there are times when the two systems overlapped and worked together.  I used a stimulus image in the form of Lionel Messi who as a games player, regularly uses both systems.  This was also a prompt for the final task – Hexagons!!!!  Hopefully at this point, we were at relational.

The final task took a minute to explain using a couple of slides that @TheBenHorbury sent me.  It was time to get to extended abstract using the beloved hexagons.  As usual, I had a number of prompt hexagons which were colour co-ordinated and had key words on them.  The task was to use Lionel Messi as the stimulus and map out how the whole respiratory system linked together.  I also had hexagons with key words from the other physiology topics (circulatory etc) so that they could go beyond this learning experience and draw in previous knowledge.  I made a big fuss about multiple connections, linking different topics and adding their own information using the blank hexagons.  The results were amazing.  Even though we only had a short time to do it, students were mapping out the links and could clearly explain how one tied into the next.  I am confident we had made it to extended abstract (please correct me if I’m wrong!)
Students linking the respiratory system to an individual and other physiology systems.

So, what are my overall thoughts?  Well the learning speaks for itself.  I asked students as I went around if the way I delivered the lesson and the tasks they used were beneficial or not.  All comments were massively positive and the students said it definitely helped.  The head of dept was also impressed and although it wasn’t meant to be an observation, he wrote it up and gave it an outstanding.  But that’s not the important thing for me.  For the first time, on my first attempt, students had fully learnt all of the respiratory system in 2 lessons.  Not just that, but they had become skilled at manipulating it and applying this knowledge.  They had also been able to link all of the physiology topics together which is a first for me.  The fact I am still buzzing about it as I’m writing it up (even though it was a few weeks ago) shows how powerful SOLO taxonomy is.  Amazing!

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