Sunday, 10 September 2017

Using SOLO to support my year 12's exam preparations

This week is senior exam week for our students and trying to get my year 12's ready for exams has been challenging at times, especially with the mixed levels of literacy in my class.  Students have to write an explanatory essay, and the context is the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Students were engaged with learning about the conflict but when it came to retaining some of the information and using it to write a structured essay, quite a few didn't know where to start.  

A few weeks ago, I taught some facts and issues around the conflict using the presentation below.  



The slide is quite content heavy, so I created a SOLO Hexagon activity to help them remember the key ideas and concepts.  I wanted them to connect ideas so they could show they were working to at least the relational stage of SOLO taxonomy.


At first, students were a bit hesitant to use the hexagons and had to refer to their notes.  But I persisted and every day for two weeks, I pulled out the hexagons and as I did, I expected complaints like 'why are we doing this again' and 'boringgg'.  Instead, students seemed excited when I brought out the hexagons and became confident in explaining how they were connected.  Each time they used the hexagons, I would mix try and mix up the task abit - sometimes they needed to work individually, sometimes it was a race to get it done the fastest or it was work in a mixed group with someone you'd never worked with before and be ready to explain to them what you knew.

For the less confident quieter students, I asked them to tell me the story of the conflict from their hexagons and it was nice to hear them articulate what they knew about the conflict.  It was tempting for their confident friends to jump in and try to help them out, but with a bit of guiding and patience, the quieter students were allowed their moment to speak.

Explaining to each other how ideas are related. 

After 3 weeks of hexagons, I wanted the students to firstly as a group, write down the what they'd learnt.  I wanted them to do this so they could show how they could collaboratively come up with what they thought was the best answer and then I could help them formulate and structure their paragraphs better with some formative feedback.   One of my quieter students completed the task straight away, which I thought was fantastic.


Using the hexagons has allowed my students to explain what they've learnt and gain a sense of confidence in using them to help structure their essays.   My next steps are to develop strategies which will allow for a deeper level of understanding, so that they could explore and make predictions about the future of the conflict.






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