Wednesday, 20 August 2014

SOLO Taxonomy, planning for writing with Year 0 and Year 1

This morning I tried doing something in a different way...
Each morning when I call the roll, I ask each learner a question. Sometimes it might be related to our Inquiry theme, sometimes it's a question just for fun (to build relationships), sometimes I ask what they ate for breakfast (to check if they did!)... I figure I have already said "Hi" to each one as they came in, and let's face it, we have to be clever with our time management in that short face-to-face time we have with our learners - there's a LOT to pack in!!

So this morning I asked them "What is one thing that makes you feel happy?" This was a popular question that generated a lot of excitement and enthusiasm, so I diverted from the plan and offered if they would like to write about this? Overall, WALT write sentences to share a message, hear and record sounds, use a wordcard/other sources to locate and record words. Personalised IALTs are constructed with independent learners.

Ever since being introduced to SOLO, I have used the HOT maps to plan for modelling writing depending on the learning intention. I have always used a 'Sequence rubric' to plan recounts and narratives. When I first saw Pam Hook's Describe++ map a few years ago, I liked the idea of the 'See, Think, Wonder' format for framing writing, and I have used it with varying degrees of success due to my own developing understanding of how to use it effectively.

Following Pam Hook's session at #EdchatNZ conference, I have been printing independent 'See, Think, Wonder' writing prompts (a wonderful idea from Waimairi School educators!) for my kids to use in their writing books if they choose to and think it will help them plan.
Many of them do:
"I like it because it gives me a small space to plan, my plan isn't too big now and I do more writing." (from a learner whose writing goal was to put less focus on her picture plan and more on the writing!) "I like it, it helps put my ideas in order."

I have been reflecting on how this is working with my early writers. The 'See, Think, Wonder' has been taken literally by many; most of the sentences for the early writers consisted of "I can see..." . I would be happy with two simple sentences or a compound sentence in response to the "See" part. EG "The bubble is big and round." or "The bubble is round. The bubble popped". They are not yet ready to explain ideas in written form - they can absolutely draw, and talk about it and I can scribe, but learning those first High Frequency Words (other than I, can and see) is important. We need to teach 'how' to write.

SO, today I pulled out my HOT SOLO Learning Verbs Rubric alongside the writing modeling book. I reminded myself and my learners that the 'See' is our Uni/Multistrucural part of our plan - we want to show, tell, (IDENTIFY) what we are talking about and say one, then more than one thing about it (DESCRIBE). The 'Think' is the Relational part of our plan - we want to make a connection, explain why, how, or elaborate with examples. The 'Wonder' is the part where we can consider the idea in a new way (IMAGINE, CREATE), or overall (GENERALISE) What is most important? What else could I do? What might I do now?

I handed out the plans as per, but today I scaffolded them through a different way of thinking about it. I clarified the vocab. Today we lost the 'See' in favour of identify and describe/tell us WHAT makes you feel happy. Record on the Uni/Multi box. Back to the mat. We lost the 'Think' in favour of explain and elaborate in the Relational bubble. Record your example (draw or write a note). Back to the mat. We lost the 'Wonder' in favour of imagine in the Extended Abstract; think about this differently - how could YOU help someone else to feel happy? Record your idea - draw or write a note. Back to the mat.

Now, lets use this plan of mine to turn it into.... "Sentences". I modelled using 'Think aloud' strategies, modeling errors, and editing. They helped by suggesting interesting words. Then I asked them for my feedback. We are trying out the '2 Stars (achievements against LI) and a (next step) Wish' (Louise Dempsey, The Writing Book) strategy - and of course, you can see they knew exactly where to look to decide what they 'Wish' me to do next!

The writing examples from my learners today showed an evident improvement I thought; more divergence in thinking, a range of vocabulary and HFWs used and greater success against the learning goal. I'm always 'playing' and this is but a 'snapshot in time'. My next step, I began at lunch... Will undoubtedly be posted about later this week!

Overall I think this "See, think, wonder" format is a brilliant way to introduce using SOLO to help plan for and frame writing - this time I just needed to explain the simple vocab!!! The model is simple and progressive as SOLO is and can be made simple or complex as need be to meet the LI.

Here's my model (Phoenix is my daughter!)


  1. Hi Bridget,
    Thanks for sharing the process so that others might try something similar with their young learners.
    Know that Lynley will be dead chuffed to see how a powerful SOLO literacy strategy is spreading.

    1. Thanks Pam for your support. I hope to meet Lynley soon and thank her personally too for inspiring this change. :-)

  2. Hi Bridget,
    I have been contemplating using Solo for a while but there has always been other things as a priority..same old argument...fitting things in. You have inspired me to introduce this sooner rather than later. Doing this with your Y1's is brilliant... thank you so much for sharing.

    1. Hi Kerri! Thank you for taking the time to comment! I'm so pleased you are going to introduce SOLO with your learners! I think if you can introduce it /apply it to something that they are trying to learn 'already anyway' it can help make it successful. And because SOLO can be applied to any learning context - it is always going to be relevant! I'd love to hear about your next step! Keep in touch. :-)