Recently while doing a days supply/relief teaching at the school I am on leave from, I was having lunch with some colleagues when one of them commented that they used SOLO but sometimes they felt it was dumbing things down.
The context of the conversation was around essay writing in English and this teacher felt that the students were “filling in boxes” and they needed to be able to write essays. What he was referring to was the use of HOT maps and graphic organisers.
As the “SOLO guy” on staff for the last couple of years, this was important for me to hear. There were two things I learned from this conversation.
Firstly, this teacher was not seeing the HOT maps as an effective strategy to organise and/or make deep thinking visible to the learner who could then write to an excellence standard from. It also suggested to me that having worked with SOLO for several years, our school has generated a raft of resources that are shared within departments but over time, teachers may be using them without being cognisant of the why and how of the learning strategy. Perhaps a reminder is required
The other thing I learned and might be a little to blame for, is that some teachers are only seeing SOLO as being the use of graphic organisers and the HOT maps. This I found super frustrating as SOLO, in my view, needs to be seen as a framework, a way of thinking about learning and teaching. I do not want to detract from the HOT maps that we have learned about and personalised with the help of Pam Hook but my mission this year is to also help teachers to see that everything we do is SOLO if we are mindful of it. I think if have blogged about SOLO being a control tower for thinking. Anyway, in the example of the “good old English Essay”, this is SOLO if we empower students or ourselves as teachers to critique it based on identifying where ideas have been brought in (multistructural), where links have been made (relational) and where insight or extended abstract thinking has been shown.
As it happens, I am now back facilitating the in school SOLO learning team and I have some ideas I will try to make time to blog about (between housework, running, fishing and remembering to pick my son up from school)