Sunday, 27 August 2017

SOLO + Blogging = SLOGGING!

My SPARK M.I.T inquiry is looking at using effective blogging with my year 9 social studies class.  Part of my reason for choosing blogging relates to challenges that our year 9 students face have when they start high school and the need to shift and accelerate their achievement towards the national norm. With my focus being on writing, I found one of the biggest obstacles was transitions from year 8 to year 9.  A writing tool that students have been using throughout primary school are their blogs which showcase their learnings.  They also allow me an insight into how students write.

I have looked into writing frames that were being used in the primary schools so I could understand what their teachers were using to teach writing.  In finding a connection between years 8 and 9, I am also looking at balancing what students need to know by the end of year 10.  I felt it was important to acknowledge the need to prepare students for the how to write better, in the senior school and for NCEA.  At the college we use the SOLO (Structured of Observed Learning Outcomes) taxonomy framework which we have linked carefully to the NCEA criteria of Achieved, Merit and Excellence.

Recently, I introduced the SOLO taxonomy structure to my year 9's and showed them a video of SOLO using mine craft.  I then went through each stage from pre structural to extended abstract using the concept 'Leadership' as their writing topic, to relate it back to the government unit that we were currently studying (here is a link to the document template the students used).   Whilst I was checking their writing, I continually made verbal reference back to the SOLO and showed students where their writing was on the framework and what they needed to do to move from one structure to the next.

Students then blogged about their learning which would give them an audience who could support them further with their writing.  To get kids to use the SOLO framework whilst they blogged, I came up with the term 'SLOGGING' which I thought would be a catchy phrase for them to remember (although I got weird looks when I said the term the first time!).  Some students completed their blogs, but a few spent time perfecting their paragraphs and didn't get a chance to blog.  There were some interesting and engaging responses from students about the session which I felt overall was positive.  Below is an example of one of my students' Jamaine, who used a scaffolded writing framework to completed his extended abstract answer.  

Jamaine writes using the SOLO structure

For my next actions, I will continue to ensure that every time we 'slog', I consciously use SOLO language and relate it to NCEA so that students.  I want to also see if students could time themselves and aim to process the information faster so that they could complete their blogs in the one period as some didn't get a chance to.  I would also like to work with their English teacher to see whether we could develop a plan to help with our students to develop their writing skills better.

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