Friday 14 November 2014

Not Just Describing

I've been making a conscious effort recently to limit my use of 'just'. A conversation had with our DP triggered a wondering...Why do I use it so often? 
As a learner first, I try, and fail forward a lot - if an idea doesn't work, I know what to do - if it's worth pursuing; I think with SOLO Taxonomy. AND I'm not 'just' doing it... 

There are always 'musts do' and I know I'm fortunate to be able to make choices about so much; many in our global family do not have this freedom. I can choose the way I act and react, to feedback; to people, to the world. I can choose to reflect honestly, to strategise and make improvements. I choose to share; maybe it's sometimes too much, too little or just right... This blog is not 'just' my story, it is part of my story, told my way. 

I choose to tweet - I don't 'just' do it, I do it because I enjoy learning from listening to others. AND then I noticed with a bang last year, how important those people who share their experiences are. I really love teaching and learning so being able to 'meet' with people about my 'passion project', while my broken organs sorted themselves out (slowly!) helped. I figure paying back by paying forward is pretty great. 
My class and I aim for 'kind and helpful always' -to self and others. What I know and experience might be helpful for someone else, in the way that when others share their knowledge and experiences, they are helpful to me. So, I am sharing another couple of answers to questions from my ULearn14 SOLO Taxonomy in Early Years Breakout Presentation... No 'justs' about it. :-) 
For anyone who may read and is thinking SOLO? Greatest source for finding out how it can be used in classroom practice is here from the person who introduced it +Pam Hook 

1. I notice you use hand drawings of student hand signs alongside the success criteria in your rubrics.  Has this been helpful in re-interpreting the SOLO resources with five year olds.

Thanks for this question - using drawings of the hands was something we thought would be helpful. We saw this video clip of wonderful 5 year old learners Pam had worked with using hand signals, so our team decided we would draw some to help ‘trigger’ the learners in an additional way. Some learners make connections best by reading text, some by the use of the hand gestures, some by connecting with images - no one way is better than another - it's 'AND'. How many ways can I offer them to help them develop an understanding? It’s another way to make the links visible. 
I have the hand signals  displayed around the room, and permanently above my teacher station, but I don’t put them beside each rubric anymore - my students are familiar with the symbols. Pam has examples of the hand signals published by Essential Resources. 
Personally I love the extended abstract symbol with the open hand because “I’m throwing an idea out there into the unknown, into a new context… It’s a wondering.”

2. Using SOLO strategies - You were the first person in the world to use SOLO Hexagons and the HookED Describe ++ Map with five year olds. Do you have any special advice for teachers in the room who are just starting out?  

I think the greatest advice I could give is to use the SOLO rubric to plan to meet your 'Starting Out with SOLO' goal!

I still have so much more to explore about how SOLO could be used in the classroom, but I didn't start out trying to do everything all at once. Reflecting with SOLO, this was what I did... 

Link for HookEd Resources

I have a post about using Hexagons with SOLO here

The See, Think, Wonder stickers are one 'branch' of the Describe++. You can use several of these together to explore an idea/concept in depth E.G 

1.Writing a sentence. Describe: What elements do I see? Why is each important? I wonder if I can make one, two, three... of these elements happen in my writing?

2.Getting myself ready for learning (managing self). Describe: What might/should we see in our room? Why do we do this? I wonder, can we make it happen? (The learning about the 'How' of school that is so important in an early years classroom!)

3.'Get Creative/Innovative Together' then Describe: What did we make? Why is this part important/Why did we do this? Wonder; what could we change to improve, who could we share this with, who could use/enjoy this? 

AND most importantly have FUN together using it - learning should be FUN. 

Whether learning to play Minecraft together as my daughter and I are - using this Fab Minecraft video from Pam, learning to read for the first time, or learning to use SOLO Taxonomy to help make the learning process visible for the first time - it's not 'just' learning, it's learning AND it's remarkable!

Ironically; I have only just noticed how much I use another word too... Wondering 


  1. Thanks for your thoughtful response to those "dig deeper" questions from ULearn14 Bridget. Glad they have been a provocation. I am sharing this post widely - you blog is encouraging for all teachers thinking about using SOLO in their classrooms but especially so for early years teachers to read an ongoing critical reflection on the classroom based use of the model with and by five year olds. We are building a powerful sense of community amongst early years teachers - Fina Hallman (Flanshaw Rd School Auckland), Lynley Cummack (Waimairi School Christchurch), Liz Hogan (Bilingual Unit - Kawaha Point School Rotorua), Bernardette Crawford (Otautau School Southland) and so many others I meet as I work around NZ. I am thinking we should have an #SOLO Taxonomy in Action in the Early Years Road Trip ;-)

  2. Thank you Pam - your encouragement & provocation (kindness & helpfulness?!) matters :)
    I've so enjoyed meeting Lynley & Fina this past fortnight - I would love to meet more fab Early NZ educators. Road trip idea - HIGHLY valuable PD, HIGHLY energetic, seriously FUN! :)

  3. Hi Bridget, I enjoy reading your SOLOtaxonomy learning journey. I like the way you wrote about your learning because by ensuring we are clear in what we do as teachers certainly achieves greater outcomes with our learners. I especially like the way you know that 5 year olds are creative thinkers and develop strategies to ensure that their learning journey is visible and documented.

  4. Thank you Sonya for taking time to make a kind, helpful comment. Digging deeper and thinking more about why, and what if... has certainly triggered a lot of wondering! I appreciate how you are sharing your remarkable understanding of hyperconnectivity with me. :)