Sunday 21 September 2014

A snapshot:Just how much does this learner use SOLO?

I use SOLO to help create new learning. The context changes, the model doesn't. The following is a reflection of how I have used it in the last 10 days... 

In the classroom 'learning environment/learning space' (btw is there a space that can't be one of  these?!) my learners use SOLO to visibly notice how they are moving towards their learning goals, across the curriculum. They use it to help themselves plan for writing, for understanding texts they read, and representing numbers in a variety of ways. They use it to help them learn and develop social skills - they relate it to learning to share, managing themselves, listening to others and asking questions... Such important skills to develop. 

My awesome team of educators (in whichever 'learning space' they have been situated at any particular time) has been planning exciting next learning challenges for our students based on student voice; we all use SOLO to plan to meet the differentiated needs of our learners. Opportunities are planned for shallow, deep and conceptual understanding of the learning goals. 

I frequently use SOLO to reflect on and set out to improve my own practice (teaching and leading). 

Over the next few weeks I am looking forward to presenting at  TeachMeetNZ on the 4th October, at ULearn14 (breakouts 1 and 3) and filming an EdTalk. For each of these events I have my goals. I have been using SOLO to plan how I will try and meet each one and ideally offer something helpful for each person who views or attends to 'takeaway'! 

And whilst planning with SOLO, I am noticing my own learning against SOLO. I am new to presenting and am trying to soak up as much from others with more experience as I can! I know I learn a lot through doing, and receiving feedback. For this reason I intend to film my own presentations. I will then use the clips to critique myself and identify areas for improvement. 

I have been teaching my daughter to play new games, I helped her notice the 'how of learning' by referring to SOLO - why not!? She is now able to genuinely beat me at Chess, Checkers and Trivial Pursuit and our little family now has a fun new tradition (our general knowledge is improving too - soon we may even be able to move beyond the 'kid's questions'!)

So, why so much SOLO? Because SOLO is applicable to all learning and I'm a learner. I love it and I enjoy it. 

We don't each meet goals in the same way - the SOLO model allows for divergence! It's really important to notice, appreciate and enjoy reaching each next step; valuing how we got there and what uniqueness we bring with us. Remember to not only look toward the next step, but to celebrate reaching the one you are standing on. 

Monday 8 September 2014

Teaching HOW to give & receive feedback with SOLO.

I think, in the first year of school, it is really helpful to help our learners learn how to give and receive kind and helpful feedback. Today we noticed how we have been learning to give each other feedback.

As a 'model' of a learner, I began drafting a rubric last night, then asked for my learner's feedback this morning. The value they added was utterly awesome, and the 'strategies' are recorded in their 'beautiful' voice. I think the result is reflective of our constant use of SOLO and the language of learning, and our familiarity with +Pam Hook  @arti_choke 's HookEd  visual rubrics!

The power and efficacy of feedback and peer tutoring are well recognised due to the legendary work of Professor John Hattie.

My understanding is that effective feedback concentrates on achievement/success that is visibly connected to the original learning goal, and also offers next steps. So, shouldn't one of the most important skills we help our youngest learners to understand be HOW to give and receive helpful, effective feedback? Might this further empower them as learners and teachers?

I noticed the 'Star and a Wish' feedback strategy in Louise Dempsey & Sheena Cameron's The Writing Book and began using this together with SOLO to teach how to feedback about writing. It is now evident across all learning areas because it seems to be working!

I have always asked my learners to assess modelled and shared writing; "What did I do well? What do you think I should improve?" We have always looked at each other's writing, but I haven't always been sure they are giving effective feedback to each other.

I predict this will be a helpful visual reference for my future learners to refer to, adapt and add their own voice to. As always any feedback is welcome & encouraged!

Saturday 6 September 2014

Being Open to Sharing; My Learning & SOLO

This weekend I have spent time preparing for my first TeachMeetNZ presentation to be broadcast as part of #CENZ14  (on October 4th) TeachMeetNZ OCT14
I have been truly amazed at how much learning has resulted from preparing this brief, 3 minute presentation! I am in my own 'Early Years' when it comes to sharing my practice online. I would assess myself as Unistructural, Multistructural at best!

Yesterday, I was SO lucky to have the awesome @vanschaijik  +Sonya Van Schaijik, who leads TeachMeetNZ, guide me and offer kind, helpful feedback about my presentation. Once again, through conversation, she helped me form connections I hadn't noticed before and I have learnt a lot from the experience.

It strikes me just how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to learn from an educator like Sonya, and I think acknowledgment is really important.
THANK YOU, Sonya for sharing your expertise, passion and learning journey so widely. I remain in awe. :-)

I am lucky that as an educator in this country, I have colleagues with such vast and varied experience and knowledge - who willingly share - from whom I can learn. The 'knowledge certainly IS in our room'.

I am also very lucky to have colleagues who are 'Extended Abstract' at sharing who are so genuine and willing to help and encourage me to share my voice more.

I intend to keep working on paying it forward; face-to-face as an Assistant Principal and leader of an awesome team, as a teacher in my awesome classroom, and as a NZ educator connecting more online and face-to-face with awesome educators from NZ, and around the world.

My Next Steps
Keep encouraging my team to share their awesome practice with anyone and everyone!
Keep asking myself 'what is it that I am doing that IS awesome, DOES work for my learners and could/should be shared?'

No one might listen - and that is OK! But I will have actively reflected and put it 'out there' anyway.

Bring on the #ULearn14 Edtalk and Presentation planning now! (Breakouts #1 and #3)  ULearn Breakouts  And please be sure to notice Sonya's Breakouts too, I'm signed up already!

AND of course, thanks to @arti_choke Pam, for enabling and encouraging our initial connection! ;-)