There seems to an awful lot of excellent posts written about SOLO Taxonomy at the moment, which is obviously absolutely fantastic …..I just thought I’d best write one to keep up with the very high standard of reflection and sharing!
The idea for SOLO Stations came from a great blog post from @DVPLearning found here http://evteachingandlearning.blogspot.co.uk/?spref=tw in the post Steven describes a Year 10 PE Revision lesson in which “He then explained what the next task was going to be. This is where teach, do, review comes in! The teacher explained that they needed to move themselves in to one of three groups. If they felt that they were really unsure about the topic they had to move to the teach group. The teacher would work with them and teach the material again. If the students felt that they were reasonably confident on the topic but maybe needed to deepen their understanding they were going to go to the do group and do a number of activities. Finally if they were really confident on the topic and knew everything they possibly could, they would go to the review group to have a go at an exam paper.”
I really like this idea of students having ownership of their learning and choosing where they would start their learning journey. After several eMails to Steven discussing the possibility of incorporating SOLO into this format I put my thinking cap on.
I really liked the idea of students leading their own learning deciding where to start but I was reluctant to have a “teaching” area – I try as much as possible to stimulate and develop students’ resilience and independence in lessons so I wanted each phase to be completely student regulated (which would allow me the opportunity to circulate, discuss, drink tea and question students throughout the lesson). So this is my first attempt at a format that I have called “SOLO Stations.”
Firstly I needed my Year 7 students to gauge and assess where they thought their learning was at (we were looking at Forces). I originally thought of putting a hinge question into the start of the lesson – I decided against this as I wanted my students to dig deep and really think about the question rather than simply opting for a multiple choice answer. I presented them with this slide as they entered the room.
To be perfectly honest this was a tricky question as we had only just started to look at forces in the last week, I gave them several minutes to think in silence independently – I reassured them it didn’t matter if they wrong but they needed to think hard.
When I revealed the answer I asked them to reflect on the answer they came up with and asked them to judge their own understanding based on the SOLO Taxonomy. Now, my Year 7 students are SOLO experts so they found this bit quite easy. Once every student was confident as to where they would start at, I moved on to the SOLO Station protocol.
I explained this in quite some detail – obviously the more I do of this the less time I will need to explain the protocol. I did stress how important it was not to see the lesson as a competition as to who would finish first but to see it as a challenge to deeper learning.
The room was set up, so around the outside of the class were the five stages in order – each SOLO Station had it’s own Success Criteria (I Can…. Because I have….etc). The stations were as follows;
- Prestructural – this station had a vast selection of textbooks and laptops for students to recap or start their understanding of Forces
- Unistructural – this station asked students to annotate simple Force Diagrams of rockets on windows and sugar paper (I was looking for students to name correctly the forces involved)
- Multistructural – this station asked students to annotate more complex Force Diagrams of rockets on windows and sugar paper (I was looking for students to show unbalanced and balanced forces on a rocket to explain the path, speed and movement)
- Relational – this station invited students to make paper aeroplanes and fly them to demonstrate the forces acting on them, the second part was to complete a worksheet which connected all they had learnt previously, they also had to check their answers and reflect on incorrect answers given (this station allowed students to relate and link their previous ideas together to explain the flight of a paper plane and compare flights of different planes based on the forces acting upon them)
- Extended Abstract – this station challenged students to solve a terminal velocity puzzle – if a bowling ball and golf ball were dropped from the Burj Khalifa in Dubai at exactly the same time which one would hit the ground first and why? (this station gave my students the opportunity to look at their learning in a different context and make predictions based on their understanding)
During the lesson I asked my students for some feedback on what they thought of the lesson and how it could be improved, here is a selection of some of their opinions;
I particularly enjoyed reading
- “making the paper airplane and know how the thrust and gravity + air resistance works when you throw the airplane!”
- “we worked independently and the lesson was fun!!!”
- “Being left alone because we had to think”
- “people have taken more responsibility” and
- “It’s more fun because we are active and not writing in our books”
When I wasn’t doing anything in the lesson (!) I also interviewed a few of my students about SOLO stations – here are a selection of the responses I collated;
N.b the music that you hear in the background is Jason Derulo – Ridin’ Solo, an idea that was given to me by our trendy English NQT!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ESdn0MuJWQ
As I was tidying up the classroom I found this pinned to a wall………