I’ve always really enjoyed using graphic organisers in the classroom or as a personal planning tool. Now I often use them when delivering professional development to staff. They help people organise their thoughts and make their thinking very visible with just a glance over their shoulder. The very best of them scaffold students learning from the necessary shallow factual learning towards deeper conceptual learning.
This is also one of the great benefits of using the SOLO Taxonomy. It helps teachers structure the learning within lessons, projects and schemes of work in a sequential and increasingly complex manner. The structuring and sequencing of learning is at the heart of what great teachers do in their lessons, projects and courses.
At St. Mary’s, the benefits have moved beyond individual teachers to our work as a school since SOLO has become our shared language and in part the language is shared by the students. If you want to know more about the SOLO (Structure of the Observed Learning Outcomes) Taxonomy my introductory post, Using SOLO to Increase Challenge may help.
Pam Hook (@arti_choke) has spent years developing resources, presenting and leading workshops on the use of SOLO Taxonomy. Her website, HookED, is a treasure trove of ideas and resources. The following resources are being shared with the kind permission of Pam under the Creative Common Licence.
Cause & Effect
With the centenary of the World War I approaching it would be interesting to challenge students to think about its causes.
- To what extent did the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife lead to the outbreak of war?
- How did the alliances of various countries in Europe precipitate it?
- Was it really caused by imperialism, nationalism and a series of minor territorial disputes that has been simmering for decades?
- Or possibly a combination of many different reasons?
The identification of each possible cause and the effect can help students piece together the tangled web of reasons and come to a view as to whether World War I was an inevitable consequence of deliberate actions and intent or a more arbitrary and unfortunate result of mistake and miscalculation. The HOT SOLO Cause & Effect Map is an ideal tool to guide students’ thinking.
The rubric below for the Causes is identical to the Effects rubric and requires students to explain how the causes and effects relate to the event. This relational thinking is the precursor of more abstract thinking that gives them new insights into why World War I happened.
More years ago than I probably would want to admit to I sat in a Heads of Science Meeting where people were bemoaning students inability to hypothesise as if it was some kind of innate skill children were born with. The ability to produce a high quality hypothesis needs to be taught and learnt. Too often students can make predictions without really looking at the evidence or theory behind a particular issue.
For example, in a reaction between calcium carbonate (marble chips) and hydrochloric acid would raising the temperature of the acid or increasing the surface area of the marble chip lead to a greater increase in the rate of reaction. What evidence is there, for and against, to support an increasing the temperature and what evidence for increasing the surface area – there is some really interesting thinking here about the limitations of raising the temperature of the acid (also think health & safety) versus the almost infinite option to keep reducing the size of the marble chip. The HOT SOLO Predicition Map below requires students to give considerable thought to the issue, with a useful structuring of the thinking process, before making their hypothesis.
I also wondered whether the map might also be useful in PE to look at the possible impact of various exercise programmes on different sportsmen and sportswomen. The relative needs of different sports in terms of stamina, strength, suppleness or speed demands different programmes to be devised.
The explanation of the level of thinking to move from multi-structural to extended abstract is usefully outlines in the rubric above. Not only does a student need to suggest a number of pieces of evidence to look at, s/he would also need to explain why the evidence would support or reject the outcome and to reach the highest level. There is a need to balance the impact of the evidence on the outcome and articulate this within a prediction. This really helps teachers structure and sequence the learning expected and provides great challenge for a student.
Another great little HOT SOLO Map to help with classification and sub-grouping. It’s about making the links and connections between different categories and making sure students think about the characteristics of each group/category and sub-group/category. Thinking about the characteristics helps students both differentiate between groups and also see where there is some overlap. The Duck-billed Platypus is a great one to throw into any exercise that requires students to classify vertebrates. Why a whale is a mammal and not a fish is something students sometimes struggle with – the key is understanding the characteristics of a group not just knowing how it is classified.
Some Additional Thoughts & Advice from Pam Hook
“When I use these resources with schools I stress that the maps are simply strategies for thinking across the different levels of SOLO – when used together – the maps and self assessment rubrics help students organise their draft ideas – with surprisingly powerful written and oral language outcomes
My experience of using them with schools over the past 12 years is that students written language (and oral language) outcomes are better than if they simply worked from a task descriptor. The maps and self assessment rubrics are a way of making the academic language of schools visible to students – an equity issue. They act as prompts for both deeper thinking and more sophisticated structure – simple sentences/complex sentences and paragraphing. Repeated use over time builds visual memory of how to approach some of the common academic tasks in school and ultimately the map itself becomes redundant – the student is familiar with the process of testing a prediction, making a claim, classifying etc. And because the options in the SOLO differentiated self assessment rubrics/ success criteria are so diverse – the maps and rubrics do not lead to the templated written language outcomes that can result with graphic organisers.
And like you Stephen I also use the maps and rubrics to good effect in professional development/learning with teachers looking at their own professional practice, registered teacher criteria, effective pedagogies, critical review etc. Great strategies to slow down and deepen thinking at all levels.”