SOLO Autonomy for Beginners

I have it on good authority that autonomy is a problem when our sixth formers leave us for university life. Helping pupils recognise their learning, and find ways to enhance their own exploration of the world in which they live, encourages autonomy; this must be developed earlier if we want to avoid spoon-feeding GCSE students and sixth formers forever, damaging their chances when their apron strings are finally cut. It is no good sticking a plaster on this problem at a later date; we need to get it right from the start.

One of the reasons that I use SOLO is that it is an accessible way (not the only way) to get pupils to see and understand their own thinking. SOLO provides teachers and pupils with a clear path to higher order thinking. Students are taught the features of each level and how each level leads to the next; with development, our students are able to use their understanding of their own thinking to move their learning forward.

If you are new to SOLO, below are some examples of SOLO in action. This details, using several different subject examples, what each level looks and sounds like and how you can use that level to move pupils on to the next.

THE LEVELS

Example of SOLO in a Random Generic Lesson

Pupils have been asked to create a presentation all about shoes. The teacher has asked for feedback and receives varied responses. Have a look at how the teacher uses SOLO to help each pupil to make more progress in this lesson.

PRESTRUCTURAL

As this means the pupil has missed the point there are no action verbs to accompany this stage

A PUPIL MIGHT SAY:

“I know nothing about the topic; I have never heard of it before.“

AN EXAMPLE RESPONSE MIGHT LOOK LIKE:

Shoes are worn on your hands.

TO MOVE ON:

The pupil must begin to gather basic information on what a shoe is.

UNISTRUCTURAL

 

A TEACHER MAY ASK FOR THE OUTCOME

 Name,
Identify,
Follow simple procedure

A PUPIL MIGHT SAY:

“I know a little about the topic but I have not done much research.”

AN EXAMPLE RESPONSE MIGHT LOOK LIKE:

Shoes are worn on your feet.

TO MOVE ON:

To become more multistructural in their response, the student must conduct research into types of shoes and their different purposes.

MULTI STRUCTURAL

A TEACHER MAY ASK FOR THE OUTCOME

Combine, Enumerate, Describe, List

A PUPIL MIGHT SAY:

“I know lots of different brands of shoes, types of shoes and their different purposes.”

AN EXAMPLE RESPONSE MIGHT LOOK LIKE:

Shoes can be worn to exercise, to dance, for comfort, for style. Different types of shoes include, stilettoes, trainers, pumps, wedges. Different shoes were popular at different times.

TO MOVE ON:

The pupil must begin to make links between the information they have found about different types of shoes, their purposes and when they were popular.

RELATIONAL

A TEACHER MAY ASK FOR THE OUTCOME

Analyse, Criticise,
Apply, Justify,
Argue, Relate, Compare/contrast, Explain causes

A PUPIL MIGHT SAY

“I have an excellent understanding of shoes and their purposes;  I can see how modern shoes have evolved from a range of styles throughout the ages.”

AN EXAMPLE RESPONSE MIGHT LOOK LIKE:

Trainers are the most effective shoe to wear for exercise. This is a direct result of using a softer sole and adjustable straps to aid foot support. In contrast to this, a modern platform is more often used for style, having evolved somewhat since its first introduction to the high fashion scene in 1960…

TO MOVE ON:

The pupil must begin to question further their findings. They should use their expert knowledge to create interesting and individual ideas about the future of shoes.

EXTENDED ABSTRACT

A TEACHER MAY ASK FOR THE OUTCOME

Create, Formulate, Generate, Hypothesise, Reflect, Theorise

A PUPIL MIGHT SAY:

“I am very confident in my exploration of shoes. I can use my expert knowledge about their evolution to theorise about the possible future of shoes and their uses.“

AN EXAMPLE RESPONSE MIGHT LOOK LIKE:

The platform rose to the height of fashion in 1960 and evolved over time to become far more sleek in its appearance. Similarly, the humble trainer began as rather a crude creation with the simple idea of comfort at its heart. Indeed, over time shoes continue to evolve and adapt to become sleeker, more appealing and above all far more ergonomically designed. Could the future hold a pair of stilettoes that actually shape your arches instead of destroying them? Let us look to the history of stilettoes to investigate this idea further…

TO MOVE ON:

The pupil should never see their work as done and should always seek out new ways to apply their learning, possibly taking themselves back to a multistructural level or applying their extended abstract thinking to another area.

Example of SOLO in English

As most pupils will not undertake a Key Stage 3 course in the making of shoes, I will show you how this might work in a subject that all pupils will cover at some stage in their school career, Shakespeare.

PRESTRUCTURAL As this means the pupil has missed the point there are no action verbs to accompany this stage

A PUPIL MIGHT SAY:

“I know nothing about the topic; I have never heard of it before.”

AN EXAMPLE RESPONSE MIGHT LOOK LIKE:

Shakespeare is a man off a film we watched in English. I was absent that day.

TO MOVE ON:

The pupil must begin to gather basic information on the topic

UNISTRUCTURAL

 

A TEACHER MAY ASK FOR THE OUTCOME

Name,
Identify,
Follow simple procedure

A PUPIL MIGHT SAY:

“I know a little about the topic but I have not done much research.”

AN EXAMPLE RESPONSE MIGHT LOOK LIKE:

Shakespeare wrote plays.

TO MOVE ON:

The pupil must conduct research into different parts of Shakespeare’s life, works and times.

MULTI STRUCTURAL

 

A TEACHER MAY ASK FOR THE OUTCOME

Combine, Enumerate, Describe, List

A PUPIL MIGHT SAY:

“I know lots about the life and times of William Shakespeare. I even know the names and storylines of some of his plays.”

AN EXAMPLE RESPONSE MIGHT LOOK LIKE:

Shakespeare wrote many plays such as Othello and Romeo and Juliet. He was born in 1564 and died in 1616. His father was a glove maker. When Shakespeare was alive men were seen as superior to women and women were the property of their fathers or husbands.

TO MOVE ON:

The pupil must begin to make links between the information they have found about Shakespeare’s life and times and the plays he wrote. They may even conduct further research into similar playwrights or modern playwrights to have something to contrast his work with.

RELATIONAL

 

A TEACHER MAY ASK FOR THE OUTCOME

Analyse, Criticise,
Apply, Justify,
Argue, Relate, Compare/contrast, Explain causes

A PUPIL MIGHT SAY:

“I have an excellent understanding of Shakespeare and I can see how modern playwrights and indeed writers of many disciplines have been influenced by his work.”

AN EXAMPLE RESPONSE MIGHT LOOK LIKE:

Shakespeare’s leading lady in Othello is typical of his portrayal of females. Desdemona is a rebellious young lady who has gone against her father’s wishes and entered into a forbidden marriage. As we know women at that time were the property of their fathers and this would have been frowned upon at the time.

TO MOVE ON:

The pupil must begin to question further their findings. They should use their expert knowledge to create interesting and individual explorations of texts.

EXTENDED ABSTRACT

 

A TEACHER MAY ASK FOR THE OUTCOME

Create, Formulate, Generate, Hypothesise, Reflect, Theorise

A PUPIL MIGHT SAY:

“I am very confident in my exploration of Shakespeare and I can apply my knowledge of contextual influences in a creative way.“

AN EXAMPLE RESPONSE MIGHT LOOK LIKE:

Many see Shakespeare as a pro female writer thanks to his sympathetic portrayal of women. On closer examination, I see this as untrue. Shakespeare’s leading lady in Othellois typical of his portrayal of females. Desdemona is a rebellious young lady who has gone against her father’s wishes and entered into a forbidden marriage. As we know women at that time were the property of their fathers and therefore Shakespeare appears to be representing a strong and successful female; however, Desdemona, like other strong heroines such as Juliet Capulet and Lady Macbeth, meets a cruel and untimely death in the play. Are we to believe that Shakespeare did this for mere dramatic effect or is this his subliminal message to women to know their place?

TO MOVE ON:

The pupil should never see their work as done and should always seek out new ways to apply their learning.

Example in a technology class

See if you can work out the stages in-between… bet the pupils can!

FINAL THOUGHT…

This is just one of many tools that can help to develop independence. It can be used at any age and can allow pupils to hold up a mirror to their own learning. A pupil may fill their head with fact upon fact about a topic and be able to recite every detail of that topic but that is not advanced thinking. It is what you do with that information that makes you an extended abstract thinker. SOLO (used properly) teaches pupils to make relationships between ideas and use those relationships to question the ideas further (independently).  Extended abstract thinkers use research to make links beyond the obvious; they see the merits in content, research, application and autonomous thinking.

2 thoughts on “SOLO Autonomy for Beginners

  1. Pingback: SOLO Autonomy for Beginners | Reflections of a Learning Geek

  2. Pingback: Solo Taxonomy | HayTeach

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