Saturday, 21 September 2013

Tentative SOLO steps

Got to be brief this week...

Learning curve for SOLO
If you've not heard of it before then look up some background to SOLO on Pam Hook's website here. Also for a quick intro watch this video.

Having stumbled upon SOLO earlier this year and used it to help structure some questioning (see this post) we are now starting to try and spread it across our teaching more widely. Frankly I'm still amazed that SOLO isn't a core part of teacher training - in my opinion it is so much more powerful than Bloom's taxonomy but that's still pushed heavily.

The first step for us was to take our department through the SOLO concept in a departmental meeting last week. We watched the video and discussed the levels. The team rapidly moved from prestructural knowledge of the name only through to relational understanding. Several of the team could identify how the taxonomy links to recent lessons... We're now looking at the extended abstract bit of this - embedding SOLO in our day to day practice. Big tip of the hat to Rob (@robewilliams79) for leading this with the team and for the vast majority of the ideas below.

Small beginnings
We're not trying to run too fast with this... We have two rooms set up with "SOLO" walls - displaying the Icons for the different levels. Further use of these is under development - we have some thoughts on using them to indicate progress through topics but they're not full formed yet.

Selected classes are also being introduced to the terms and symbols. They've been shown the lego video and are starting to get to grips with assessing themselves vs the various levels.

Some lessons have started with an introduction of some facts (unistructural or multistructural level) for example angle facts in triangles and on straight lines Then the objective has been set to solve a question that uses combinations of those facts, e.g. finding compound angles in a diagram or proving rules about angles. This has been reinforced with the students by demonstrating that they are making links between the facts, and hence moving them up the SOLO taxonomy into relational understanding.

So far so good - the groups it's been tried with are really warming to it - and it is certainly not hurting their progress. They see the structure and understand that they need to start with what they know and use that to develop towards what they need to know.

Further steps
More of the same really - continuing to develop the use across more lessons and embedding it further. I'm also keen to use it to structure & guide thinking for 3 act lesson a la Dan Meyer. As I see it Dan's approach effectively presents the extended abstract question and then encourages students to break it down to the multi and unistructural level facts and information that they need to build a solution. I see this as a good approach to breaking down this kind of maths problem, and am keen to use the solo terminology to help the students to frame their problem solving processes.

Watch this space
Realise this isn't the fullest of posts - very much a work in progress, however it signposts the next key direction we are taking and I'm keen to share it and get any feedback. I assure you there will be more posts on this as we progress further.

I'd be really keen to hear from you if you have any SOLO experience that you'd like to share or have any other comments on this.

Leave a comment or find me on twitter... @listerkev

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