Twitter, SOLO experiment, visible learning, student-led, co-construction

Since using Twitter as a CPD tool as opposed to a simple socialising tool, my knowledge and understanding of more progressive methods of teaching has been developing quickly. From first hearing about SOLO taxonomy sometime in the autumn term of 2012 through another English teacher’s blog, I quickly moved on to reading John Hattie’s Visible Learning for Teachers and am now in the process of trying to use and embed SOLO in all my teaching and learning.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been trying to make sure that for every topic I teach I have a handout prepared for students that lists the learning objectives and the skills they need to demonstrate to meet these, each categorised at the appropriate SOLO level (I have the SOLO levels and visual representations of them drawn on my windows so that I can refer to them as required). For convenience, I have neglected the unstructured level and merged the unistructural and multistructural levels.

When we returned from the Christmas break, I presented my year 10 Media and Film class with one of these sheets. Down the right hand side of the sheet is a ticklist that students can tick when they are confident that they have met each criterium. Students were able to do a quick self-evaluation of what level they felt they were at and so be able to see where they would need to go next. We quickly realised that all students needed to complete one more objective at the multistructural level in order to move up to the relational level. We promptly set about learning what we needed to achieve that criteria, and then, equally as promptly, forgot about our ticklists and drifted back to our old-fashioned scheme of work. It was business as usual, so to speak.

But today was different. Today was the first day of making an active, concerted attempt to embed SOLO into our learning. Two year 10 groups who are just embarking on a new unit (in which the ultimate goal is to be able analyse and compare the portrayal of violence in Romeo and Juliet and two war poems) were given their SOLO ticklists to ponder what they could and couldn’t do and what they would need to do to move on. In groups, they planned out a series of steps which they thought would create a “map” that would guide them on their learning journey to success at the end of the unit. This was consolidated on the board at the end of the lesson, with a photograph taken that can now be printed off and stuck in the students’ books to help them move along the agreed learning path at their own pace. This is the ultimate in differentiation, as I ensured that all students were aware that they will all have to find their own ways to evidence their learning along this path. For example, where one student might choose to produce a booklet with different pages dedicated to biographical facts about characters in Romeo and Juliet to evidence their knowledge of the personalities of characters, another student might produce a PowerPoint or Prezi presentation, and another might choose to draw or paint them and then annotate with factual information. So tomorrow my students begin their personalised journeys along a path that they themselves have plotted, calling in at the stops that I’ve prearranged, but arriving at each stop at their own pace and on their own terms, producing their own choices of outcomes to evidence their learning. The real beauty of this approach is that all students can aim for the highest levels of achievement and can see what they need to do to get there without having their aspirations and achievements capped by their so-called target. We’ll see how it goes…

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About Andrew Warner

Mostly English teacher, AHT (T&L/literacy/CPD) & bibliophile. Irregular examiner, MTBer, armchair anthropologist & bassist. Fascinated by language & behaviour.

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  1. SOLO experiment update | andywarner78 - March 15, 2013

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