Thursday, 31 May 2012

Teaching SOLO taxonomy through SOLO taxonomy

When I first started this blog, I was always quite keen to stay away from writing 'How to guides' or give detailed theoretical explanations of particular aspect of learning & teaching.  Mainly because there are so many amazing educators out there who have already explained it and probably in a much better way than I ever will.  I also like to 'tinker' with ideas and normally what I deliver in my teaching is an adapted version, usually pitched to the students that I learn with.  But, I feel I am about to buck the trend and go against my initial aims.  I am about to join the dark side!

I first read about SOLO in 2009 but at the particular point I wasn't ready in my theory teaching to implement it.  As a PE teacher, trained primarily in practical learning, I wanted something simple to develop my classroom practice.  Instead I merged the 'Accelerated Learning Cycle' and Andersons revised taxonomy as a way to structure progress, differentiation and challenge in my lessons (there I go tinkering with strategies again).  In my head, SOLO seemed far beyond me and my simple four part lesson which got harder as it went on seemed to do just fine. 

So now, back in 2012, I seem to have caught the SOLO bug and went on a big secret trial with my Year 10 & 11 GCSE PE theory groups.  A link to these trials can be found here.  What I found is that SOLO did everything I wanted from the ACL+Andersons but even better.  Wierdly, a month or so into the trial, I shared some of the stuff I had done with our LTG group (which I am part of).  All of a sudden my Director of Learning perked up and said that he had looked at some SOLO stuff briefly and was also interested.  A collaboration of great minds began.  Since then we have opened it up to a few staff but kept it quite quiet but the bug seems to be spreading.  Even today I had a colleague e-mail me saying they were looking up SOLO online and had seen my name and blog mentioned and wondered if I could help.  I now have interest from English, PE, Science, Business studies and Music.  I have therefore decided to have a SOLO staff meeting.

So, whatever I do, whether leading sessions for staff or teaching in lessons, I always think 'What could I do that helps people really get what I am talking about'.  If I was to be sat in a SOLO meeting, what would help me understand it?  So, I decided to structure my SOLO session using SOLO taxonomy.  If I do it with them, surely they can see how to transfer it?

To begin with, I have planned to have staff come in and using a 'Teachers guide to SOLO' rubrics, get them to self level themselves at the start.  This I hope will allow them at the end to see the progress that they have made.  I am guessing many of the will be somewhere between pre-structural and multi-structural

I then plan to take them through the various elements of SOLO taxonomy explaining the various stages, key terminology and highlighting the significant benefits of this taxonomy.  To aid them with this, I have created a SOLO notes sheet that they can scribble on as I take them along the SOLO journey.

In the second element of the session, I will try and get them to relational level by sharing examples of practice that has gone on within school.  My Director of Learning has recently trialled this in a rewritten scheme of work with the Year 7 Gifted and Talented group (Integrated Curriculum students).  He's planning to show how easy it was to adapt the existing unit into the rewritten SOLO template.  I will then share my experiences from PE theory using examples, resources and giving feedback from students (which has all been positive so far!).

A simplified version of how Music have extracted key parts of the original scheme into the SOLO structure

To finalise, and simply to get them to Extended Abstract, we plan to have an open discussion session where I can help them transfer some ideas they have into the SOLO structure.  This is where I can make suggestions on how to take their existing schemes and lessons and adapt it to SOLO.  An e-mail I have already drafted with links to various inspirational blogs and grouped by topic (see below) will then be e-mailed to them.

Finally, I will get them to go back to the 'Teachers guide to SOLO' rubrics and get them to self assess themselves again, giving feedback to a peer, to see if they have made progress.  Then I will introduce the most amazing word that I have found through my SOLO trials, 'FEEDFORWARD'.  I'll get staff to see what it is they need to do to get to whatever next level they have identified and provide support (through links to blogs etc) to help them get there.

In my head this works, in practice who knows.  Any thoughts and comments would be appreciated.  Anything you'd add or really highlight?  If so, please leave a comment or tweet me at @davidfawcett27

Inspirational Blog links Darren Mead - SOLO Guru and Science Tait Coles - SOLO Guru and Science David Fawcett - Direct link to my SOLO posts and PE teacher David Didau - SOLO Guru and English Lisa Jane Ashes - SOLO Guru and English David Didau explaining SOLO at Teach Meet Clevedon Pam Hook - Amazing resources for free and a really clear explanation

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