S.O.L.E. Questions & Answers
Below is a list of the most frequently asked questions about S.O.L.E.
What is the basic idea behind S.O.L.E.?
The premise behind the S.O.L.E. strategy lies in the theory that students are capable of learning for themselves and also teaching themselves. The strategy is based on collaboration and explanatory talk with a question /provocation being used as the basis for internet research. Children learn in small groups which they organise themselves, with teachers taking a significantly lesser role in the learning process. Students are free to discover content with minimal teacher intervention. Once content is discovered and shared, a skilled teacher negotiates evidence of learning and the application of knowledge with their students.
What do I need to run a S.O.L.E. session?
Remember S.O.L.E. is an environment so it is very important that a session is set up the right way. All you really need are tables set up with a laptop on each table. The best ratio we have found is one computer to every four students. A white board, paper and markers are all you really need to capture the learning.
How often do you use S.O.L.E.?
SOLE is a strategy that fits into a teachers’ repertoire of practice. The research sessions are particularly effective at the start of a unit of work. They are also useful as a tool when a particular misconception arises within a unit of work. Teachers who have used S.O.L.E. extensively over the past few years would suggest that two to three times a week would be usual.
Why is the question so important?
For two reasons. Firstly a good question promotes deeper responses and greater diversity of response. We have discovered that “How” or “Why” questions are more effective than “What” questions. Secondly in most cases the question is drawn from the content teachers are required to teach. This means that educators have a clear link back to their content requirements and at the same time are allowing students access to the content from different viewpoints. Great questions tend to get the students thinking beyond the classroom.
What educational outcomes should we expect from a S.O.L.E. session?
As well as the content that arises from the question; we have found that the level of complex vocab that the students are exposed to is immense. Researchers such as Marzano and Hattie are very clear on the importance of vocabulary in accelerated learning. We have found this to be especially the case when the question is based on a mathematics concept. “Vocab catching” as we call it, is an integral part of a S.O.L.E. session that we feel can never be underestimated.
In terms of building student learning skills we have observed improved recall of information when examining pre & post test data. In addition to this, there has been improvement in classroom dynamics and development in the students of a collaborative approach to learning. In both schools over the past few years, data from the student Attitudes to School survey indicates marked improvement in the measures for stimulating learning and student motivation.
Is it a good idea to assign roles to the groups?
We are strong advocates of not assigning student roles as it is contradictory to the idea of Self Organising. In fact in its original iteration in the UK S.O.L.E. had a student acting in a policing role. We saw this as simply replacing one authority with another and took it out of our practice. Interestingly a number of UK S.O.L.E. practitioners (including Sugata himself) have stopped using student police. One of the major outcomes of a S.O.L.E. session is that students learn how to solve problems themselves.
What about behaviour management issues?
We have done over four hundred S.O.L.E. sessions and at the time of writing we have only had one student behaviour issue that was quickly resolved. On the other hand we have had to ask two observing teachers to leave our sessions because they couldn’t step back and let the students work independently.
Why do you think students are so engaged in S.O.L.E. sessions?
When we look at our teaching strategies it is very worthwhile to try to see things through the eyes of a student and their emotional lens. We believe that S.O.L.E. seems to replicate the way people naturally learn; the access to the internet merely deepens the pool of knowledge from which they can draw. SOLE allows the learning environment to move from control to empowerment, from individuals to communities & teams, from teacher in the centre to student centred, from isolation to connectedness, from holding on to the past to embracing & creating the future - “invent the future not prevent the future”
Despite different systems, different languages, different contexts etc. - EVERY S.O.L.E. SESSION LOOKS, SOUNDS AND FEELS EXACTLY THE SAME!
It would appear from our observation that a S.O.L.E. environment might well be the "natural way" that people learn. Therefore by definition; the invasive teaching techniques upon which we base education my well be an unnatural construct.
How is S.O.L.E. relevant in a rapidly changing world?
At the school level it is common to observe phrases such as like, lifelong learning, self-motivated students and creative thinkers mentioned in mission statements.
It appears as if to thrive in the middle to late part of this century people will need to be problem finders & solvers, pro-active, resourceful, people who can research, and have the capacity collaborate. But are we really encouraging these qualities in school? Do our schools foster this when each day teachers continue to ask students to “do a sheet” Is this a form of teaching or is it busy activity? Does it make for curious students? Does it motivate student to want to learn more and ignite that learning spark? Do we as teachers deliver lessons that are easy for us and boring for the students? It would be our view that S.O.L.E. has the capacity to effectively address all of these issues within a mainstream school context.
What are the challenges to teachers and schools in adopting S.O.L.E.?
The process can be challenging for some teachers who are used to having control over the pace and scope of the learning. S.O.L.E. does not move away from the concept of explicit teaching or having explicit learning outcomes for each lesson. Teachers still need to know the curriculum and have a clear understanding of where they want the children to go with their investigations.
How can I learn more?
Firstly follow the links on our website. You are also able to contact Paul or Brett via email.