Going SOLO

It’s important as teachers that we continue to improve and look for new ways to engage our pupils in their learning. With this in mind I am conscious that it is difficult to make wholesale changes to your practice as real life education can be hectic and leave little time to fully embed new teaching strategies. Im mentioning the need to embed new strategies as this is a goal of mine that I not only want try new things but embed them in my practice so that they become a natural occurrence in my learning and teaching.

A theme that I have been considering for a long time is how I can really ensure that the dialogue between myself and my pupils is made even more robust and challenging to the pupils. I believe that I am good at discussing next steps and providing feedback for pupils, but I would like the pupils to get better along with me. I want my pupils to tell me what they need to do to improve and, more importantly, how they are going to do it.

To do this I think I have found how I am going to do this on a lesson by lesson basis… SOLO taxonomy. As mentioned previously I am a follower of many teaching blogs and communicate with many via twitter. It is through twitter that I have discovered and researched SOLO taxonomy. The taxonomy is simply taking your learning intention and breaking it down into 5 stages that increase with complexity. In terms of physical education it can be as simple as making a pass during a practise situation right up to performing various passing techniques in context. Here is the definition of SOLO and its 5 stages;

  • Pre-structural – The task is not attacked appropriately; the student hasn’t really understood the point and uses too simple a way of going about it.
  • Uni-structural – The student’s response only focuses on one relevant aspect.
  • Multi-structural – The student’s response focuses on several relevant aspects but they are treated independently and additively. Assessment of this level is primarily quantitative.
  • Relational – The different aspects have become integrated into a coherent whole. This level is what is normally meant by an adequate understanding of some topic.
  • Extended abstract – The previous integrated whole may be conceptualised at a higher level of abstraction and generalised to a new topic or area.

How I am embedding this into my learning and teaching is by using laminate cards with the 5 levels, post-it notes and learning intentions that i create based on my understanding of the 5 levels. Below is an example of of my learning intentions using the taxonomy for an S1 Basketball lesson;Image 

During the lessons I am asking the pupils to use the learning intentions to self and peer assess. What the pupils do is stick their name on a post it note and attach it to the intention they feel they are at, this is done using dialogue with me. As the lesson(s) progress pupils can move their post-it note up when they think they have achieved the next outcome, at this point I can ask thin why they are moving up and what they have to do to climb to the next outcome. This, i feel, is highly effective dialogue and ensures that pupils are focussed on achieving in each and every lesson. By explicitly sharing with them the stages it involves pupils fully in assessment and their overall learning. An example of the cards and the post-it notes is shown below;



So far I have embedded into my 1st year classes. I am hoping to use it in most if not all of my classes. Building the learning intentions is easier than I thought and once the pupils understand what is expected and don’t need reminded on what they are doing they are instantly looking to upgrade themselves in lessons, this can only be a good thing. For next session I am going to try and implement this with my Higher class, which will be very interesting but I am sure it will help focus the pupils from the first lesson.

I firmly believe that utilising strategies such as SOLO improves the dialogue between myself and pupils and really improves pupil attainment. Here’s hoping that I continue to embed this in my practice and it makes a real difference in th progress of my pupils.


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