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The Dialogic Learning Weekly #151

Afternoon all and welcome to Friday! This issue is all about the SOLO Taxonomy and relates directly t
The Dialogic Learning Weekly
The Dialogic Learning Weekly #151
By Tom Barrett • Issue #151 • View online
Afternoon all and welcome to Friday! This issue is all about the SOLO Taxonomy and relates directly to the work I have been immersed in at a school in Sydney in the last few days.

SOLO Taxonomy
“SOLO Taxonomy provides a simple and robust way of describing how learning outcomes grow in complexity from surface to deep understanding” ~ Biggs & Collis
It is one of the most commonly referenced mental models in my school partnership work in teaching and learning. SOLO stands for the Structure of the Observed Learning Outcome. The different levels increase in complexity: from surface to deep levels of understanding.
  • Pre-Structural - No ideas
  • Uni-Structural - One relevant idea (One)
  • Multi-Structural - Many relevant ideas (Many)
  • Relational - Connected and related ideas (Connect)
  • Extended Abstract - Ideas extending beyond the subject, exploring rules and patterns (Extend and Apply)
I always found this language a tricky starting point but once we begin to see how it can be applied it is worth our time. When we have internalised this theory of learning we can use it for the design of learning and assessment, it becomes a powerful language of learning.
Most importantly it gives us precision about where a student might be in their learning, and where they need to move to next.
Using SOLO Taxonomy to Develop Student Thinking & Learning
Year 1 and 2 Science
Over the last few days I have spent time with teachers at St Michael’s Catholic Primary School in Sydney. We have been collaborating on our understanding of the SOLO Taxonomy and designing some routines with students for Science outcomes in Year 1 and 2.
Today we ran some of the thinking routines we had designed and filmed the outcomes. In a review session we debriefed about what we noticed about the student talk, the process we were running and how the outcomes signalled different levels of the SOLO Taxonomy.
One of the simplest ways to learn about SOLO is to take notice in your own learning spaces. Reflect on the outcomes and activities that make up the learning experience and connect it to differing levels of complexity in SOLO.
Filming the students talking about their scientific understanding of materials (Y1) and sound energy (Y2) - allowed us to focus on the dialogue and facilitating the talk. Reviewing the footage also allowed us to be precise about what we heard. This is an effective method for moderating the SOLO levels, what the discussion revealed to us and to develop our understanding of SOLO in action.
Question Chains
A powerful way to start your journey using the SOLO Taxonomy is to simply start with crafting some questions. It is one of most accessible tools for teaching and learning.
Creating a SOLO Question Chain is thinking through a series of questions that increase in complexity, inline with the SOLO Taxonomy such as these for ‘weather’ - starting from uni-
  • Can you tell me about one of the seasons we experience during the year? US
  • Describe the different types of weather we experience throughout the year? MS
  • Why are some clothes better for some types of weather? R
  • How do some countries adapt to suit their climate? What is the link between where we live, the weather we have and the clothes we wear? EA
Take a look at the full set of questions in the link below.
SOLO Taxonomy Question Chains – Tom Barrett's Blog
A big thankyou to Allana Vedder the Principal at St Michael’s Catholic Primary School who is retiring at the end of this year. Allana and I have worked closely together in a three year school partnership. It has been a privilege Allana!
I hope you enjoyed learning a little about the SOLO Taxonomy and how I am using it within some of my school partnership work.
See you next time for another issue.
~ Tom 
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Tom Barrett

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