SOLO – learning something new and turning my lesson over to the group

OK, by now readers you know that I like the idea of the SOLO taxonomy. Assessments over and the last day before half term – not always a day when pupils are fired up, so I decided to carry out an experiment with two lower sets where I had TA support available as well.

In one lesson I would hand over the content to a democratic vote based on pupil suggestions to engage them directly in their learning by offering the opportunity to be the expert instead of Sir. As they entered it was clear something was up as the IWB was switched off, and the tables were in two groups. For the TAs an even bigger shock – hand written lesson plan copies (unheard of).

So, the starter involved talking to the class briefly about how I identify myself as a lifelong learner and how we can all learn from each other. The class were then asked to volunteer topics that had caught their attention recently. In both classes about 5 topics were selected. Then an explanation of how a simple first past the post democratic election is conducted (citizenship link) and then a class vote.

Now we had a story to focus on…Zombies in both lessons -I admitted to knowing nothing in the first lesson and having learnt some facts in the second lesson. Pupils identified the topic on their SOLO logging sheet (see previous posts). Relative knowledge was compared and class “experts” appointed to address the two table groups.

This is where we (staff) were astounded by the depth of knowledge held and impressed how it was explained by the selected pupils (two received positve phone calls home at the end of the day to back this up). After a 5 minute presentation and questions answered if possible the class returned to their logging sheets and recorded new knowledge and identified if they had made progress in the lesson. This was supported by each member of the group giving feedback to the class and then identifying for the one pupil in each group why they had not made progress.

Table groups were then issued with hexagons to record facts on and try to identify links between the facts. This involved lots of discussion. The second class managed a review as well as at the end of their lesson.

A very successful exercise which all involved enjoyed. For the second lesson the Deputy Head Teaching and Learning was invited and attended for some of the session. Based on self evlauations by me and feedback from the TAs these two lessons were amongst my best lessons recently.

Next stage… explaining the lesson to my Head of Department who wants to take this across Key STage 3…. posts to follow.

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