Monday 27 October 2014

Making Learning Visible with #SOLOTaxonomy; EdTalk & Talking Ed

Filming - the camera; my favourite 'app'. 
My learners LOVE to watch themselves on the 'big screen'! They notice what they did, they wonder why, they consider how they might do things differently (see, think, wonder). They laugh, they smile - they delight in it! I do wish my reaction to seeing myself on film was a little more like this!

My awesome team of educators and I frequently film short snippets of ourselves teaching for self-review and reflection (it is a school expectation - but is something I have been encouraged to do since I began teaching). I frequently film myself as part of my self-review and reflection as a leader too - filming meetings, analysing my actions and asking for feedback from my team. I find it can be hard to watch myself, but once I disassociate from emotions and analyse the practice - focus on the learning not the learner - I find it a really powerful - disruptive - experience. It can confirm and consolidate and make you notice what you might not otherwise have seen, from other perspectives. I can then give myself feedback - and if I'm looking at the rubric - I can decide what to do with it... Usually, I choose to make a change. I can always improve and there is always a new next step, or goal to meet. 

My second EdTalk was published late last week, thanks @janenicholls @jedd and @mlintott for creating such an inviting climate for me to share this snapshot of my learning journey, and for all the work behind the scenes to prepare it for publishing! 

I had analysed and learnt from watching my first EdTalk and set new goals for this time around. I enjoyed noticing an improvement. There are, of course, still aspects I would change and improve, but it's organic and unscripted. It is me sharing; describing what I do, considering why, and wondering... Feedback is welcome. 

My description...
"Our youngest children are very experienced learners already! They naturally explore and wonder, they ask questions... The feedback we give children is important - it can encourage and re-enforce mindsets. I use SOLO Taxonomy with 5 year old learners, from their first day at school because it empowers; learners begin to notice 'how' they are learning, and what their next step could be. They can then apply the model to anything they want to (or need to) learn - what an important 'tool' for 'life-long learners' to have!"

Links to find out more...  HookEd Educational Consultancy @arti_choke
Mindset. How You Can Fulfill Your Potential - Carol Dweck
Kids Can Teach Themselves - Sugata Mitra

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Q's, A's, Walls and Standing Up.

Just prior to Breakout 1 session at ULearn14, This image was taken (thank you @1MvdS !) I only realised there were images from the presentation this afternoon while reflecting and writing a descriptor for my EdTalk.
View image on Twitter
The irony captured in the above image is LOUD, I love it because I learned from it, and there are no prizes for guessing who I was 'connecting' with. This was the message I am sending in the picture above...
I can now look at that with a grin and think - yep, I was scared and it felt disruptive, but most things that are worth anything in this world seem to be so. 

The educators I met at that session inspired me and taught me a lot - they continue to do so. I am loving hearing about and sharing in their learning journeys on Twitter. They 'participated and contributed' to the shared Google Doc and asked questions! Yay! This made me reflect - how, why, what next... 

It is taking me a while to get through the questions (ERO, planning, reports etc are also visible!) I was so fortunate to have Pam @arti_choke attend the 'party' on the day and be present to share her knowledge; providing answers to many questions. Smashing barriers - seriously you can leave the walls (they connect the roof and floor rather well), we can work through them! 

Sharing and crediting are only two of the very important messages I have learnt from Pam. 
So, I thought I would begin posting some of the Q's I was asked and the A's I have shared. 
Anyone can access the whole doc at any time - link is on the presentation.
I have felt it before - "I want to ask, but I don't want to seem silly!" regardless of how often the speaker says "No question is a silly question/if you want to know, others do too..."

I'm so glad the awesome educators who shared breakout one with me asked. Kids do!
We are all learning and it should be shared...

  1. In your experience how does making learning visible through SOLO levels (hand signs symbols terms) engage and motivate five year olds to learn?

I think understanding the levels of SOLO is made more accessible by the use of the hand signals and the symbols. Multiple exposure and reference is important so they are able to notice the ‘connections’. Referencing SOLO across the learning areas helps them to notice that it is a tool that can be applied to many (and any) learning context. We do simplify it, but we also use the correct vocab - it breaks down barriers and offers opportunities for more to engage and develop understanding. ‘Prestructural is like I need help, or I don’t know, Unistructural is like I might know one thing about it, identify, define it, Multistructural is like I might know/can say/demonstrate more than one thing (NOT 3), describe it, Relational is like I’m ‘linking my thinking’, making connections, explaining, comparing, sequencing… Extended Abstract is like I’m throwing my learning out there - into a new situation, looking at it in a new way, doing something with my learning like teaching someone else about it, looking at it overall - generalising, creating, evaluating… For 5 year olds (and myself with my goals!) - looking at an aspirational goal like ‘I want to be able to write a story, read a book, swing across the monkey bars, can seem insurmountable, but a very next step towards it is manageable. And they get to experience and celebrate success as they move towards the goal - it’s visible, and motivating.

  1. The one thing that worries me about using SOLO with students is when students think “they are” extended abstract - the SOLO level represents them - much like kids say - “I am gifted” or “I am dumb” - reinforcing a fixed mindset. How do you address this with 5 year olds - so that they see that the SOLO level is related to the work sample - the learning outcome at that moment in time? It is all about the learning outcome and figuring out the next steps - it is never about the human being who is far too complex and entity to be represented by three sticks.

I certainly understand this and completely agree - the whole person is so important. Perhaps one of the things I love most about using SOLO is that it should always be used to measure the learning, never the learner. I do find that I need to explicitly teach this though. I find my learners, once they learn something, love to say ‘Oh that is easy!” Thus sometimes discrediting others who may be still trying to master the skill. I question; “Did you always find this easy? Was there a time you couldn’t do this?” Going back to ‘when you were a baby could you…’ seems to work well! I have to work to reinforce the growth mindset, because the fixed mindset seems to develop far more easily!
I can think of many examples of when asked to try something, my learners (and sometimes I) revert to “I can’t”.
Draw a picture of yourself “I can’t”
Write your name “I can’t”
...Present on Sonya’s TeachMeetNZ “I can’t! Wait… Can I?”
To reach ‘I can’ - you only have to take one next step, then the next...; draw your head, write the initial letter or in my case, login and download the template… :-)
It’s learning. It’s something we can all do. Success is important to acknowledge and celebrate. Through effort - they (and we) earn it and it should be celebrated and enjoyed.

This is a collection of the tweets shared by a wonderful group of educators who joined the breakout.

@vanschaijik  captured this one too - thank you. My Twitter PLN is remarkable.

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Success... Could be #SOLOTaxonomy learning talk at the dinner table!

Our learners had input into planning our current learning journey last term and the direction was born from wonderings gathered during previous learning discussions - always noted, named and recorded so we can refer back to them.

This term we are exploring the idea of 'Success' (Twinkle, Twinkle Little Stars).  What does it look like in 'my' world - how is it visible? And what might it look like to others? A link I shared yesterday is this (love how with tech I can bring outside inside and visuals are so powerful). Also, yes while we are at it, let's notice Malala Yousafzai... Let's relate this 'noticing' to our learning in maths; remember the successful woman we talked about on our $10 note who we discussed during the elections last term... Noticing stars while our feet are on our ground. Making connections.

There will be a Social Sciences tilt to this learning journey, with Health very clearly evident - it always is, we are all citizens learning together after all. Our rubric, with 'key strategies' to prompt discussion at each stage is visible, unpacked from the beginning and the goals shared.

This week, we began by identifying something we felt we succeeded at during the holidays - because we don't just 'learn at school'!

I wanted to also see where my learners were at with using the hexagon strategy so I had them draw or write their idea and let them place and connect at their leisure. After each had completed I brought them together and asked what they noticed? Hexagons had been 'plonked'.

Bring in the Feedback Rubric... 'I finished MY work'...

So I activated discussion. We made connections verbally and they justified their ideas, the hexagons became weathered as the were moved from one place to another, to another... Then we always STAND UP and look at it from a different perspective - it helps us notice what we may not have noticed before. And yes, sometimes the 'notice' is "Ooo it looks like a dinosaur!"- I love this, it's why I love working with early years learners!

I was rather (ok, very) excited when one of my learners identified that she had been successful at talking about understanding SOLO Taxonomy at the dinner table with an older sibling. She connected to my hexagon and justified that it was 'because they were both about talking and SOLO'.

We then reflected and recorded the process that we went through using the generic SOLO rubric. We decided we are probably Unistructural as a class at using hexagons as a strategy because we still need lots of support, but if conversations about the HOW of learning are being had with family in homes...(and from parent feedback, this is not a 'one off!') I am feeling pretty inspired!

So heading into tomorrow; we each have visible starting points and next steps; we have our rubrics. We have outcomes to achieve. To scaffold, we have 'suggestions' on a plan (I acknowledge, it can be daunting letting learners drive). How we will get there? I have no idea yet, but I know it will be an interesting ride...  And I can't wait to see how learners in the rest of our team arrive at their destination!

Saturday 11 October 2014

Making Connections & Keeping it Real

The evening prior to setting off for ULearn 14 I connected with someone remarkable and shared that my first 'job' at 14 years old saw me engulfed by a lion costume, standing outside the local dairy offering Paddle Pops to other kids. That huge head I had to wear was heavy and I'm 'balance challenged' at the best of times! But I was determined...

Fast forward to the ULearn Showcase on the final eve, it was with amusement and wonder that I read a text from my 'modern 21C learner' daughter (no, she does not own a phone) that read "Mummy I miss you so much. I hope you have fun and can you please bring me home a Paddle Pop?"

On the long drive home (as I imagine most others did) I reflected.  I noticed this particular snapshot began and would end with ice cream!

My learning goal has been visible through my blog posts; share more; while connecting with, listening to and learning from people around me (face to face and virtually).
I conversed with and engaged with so many wonderful people during ULearn 14 and it was awesome. I loved it and I can't wait to connect further and with more!

All connections made were relevant to SOLO Taxonomy - I knew my learning goal and I framed my steps with it.

Connections were often made or strengthened while feasting on the delicious kai provided and served by talented, friendly staff (yes, details matter) at the Events Centre and in Central Rotorua. Connections were made about coffee, pallet furniture, beauty in the far North, fishing, whales, Antarctica & F.I.S.H, Bon Jovi, gardens at home and school, residing in West Auckland, Minimally Invasive Ed, Twitter - the why, how (and what if you don't? Please, you don't have to! The world will still turn & wonderful things will continue to happen in your classroom and your school!). Connections were made about Grease, choosing you 'tude, trains, roads, Thomas the Tank Engine, our kids being killed, disrupting, and kindness.

Connections were made or strengthened before, during and after the breakouts I presented at; about teaching learning to learn strategies, Inquiry, young learners, sustainable learning practices, Kaitiakitanga, wicked problems and citizenship - what matters most now?

Connections were strengthened hugely by having Pam @arti_choke present virtually during my first presentation; she made herself visible to answer questions and add her huge wealth of experience and knowledge to the breakout.

I compared the energetic, responsive and organic interactions between the small, eclectic and wonderful group of educators at my breakout about growing sustainable learners, to the interactions between 500+ equally eclectic and wonderful educators at a large corporate conference I attended in April, where I could have heard a pin drop as everyone had their eyes fixated on their devices.

What I appreciated most during ULearn 14, was that when I looked up and said "Hi" and took my first step out of the comfort zone, the rest seemed to 'just happen' because so many friendly, genuine, kind and passionate educators attended. And people matter. Kindness matters, as does 'keeping it real'.

Perhaps my 'Extended Abstract' wondering might be... That I really appreciated that I also made connections over feelings of disconnect with certain ideas and themes... I feel that may be another blogpost. :-D

So yes - as success requires effort, I made 4 stops before I found (thanks 'connectivity') that the requested Paddle Pop flavour doesn't exist... It didn't matter, she was most excited to see Mummy anyway. People matter.

I made this and added it to my first presentation as a result of an awesome first eve in Rotorua with awesome people I connected with after meeting through Twitter - it really can be an activator for real life connections, if you make it happen. I'm so happy I did.

My ULearn Presentations:  

My TeachMeetNz Presentation: with a huge reference to @vanschaijik who is so connected! :-)

And of course... for all things SOLO and so much more: