My interest in the idea of sharing pedagogical purposes comes directly with the contact I have had with the Project for Enhancing Effective Learning at Monash University in Australia. Now each of these teachers were very active in establishing learning agendas with their classes. The impact they were having was inspiring. Each classroom tool can have a purpose beyond delivering content, and this needs to be shared.
I suppose the purpose of this website is collate, crystalise and open dialogues about how to increase this within classrooms. As the quote from Carl Bereiter illustrates this classroom methodology can empower our students.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

SOLO taxonomy, planning and progress..

Today, a group of year students have been completing an extended writing task based around the wonderful PEEL strategy "fact in fiction". Since we had not seen each other for a week I structured a few tasks to remind them of the content ( and resources) and to facilitate the connection of concepts.

First, was a group task that had them as a list key ideas about the Immune system, a chance familiarise themselves with the content once again. A pure multistructural task.

Next  they were to define and distinguish between some key vocabulary. Words I knew they had struggled with in the previous lesson. The distinguish element to this was to ensure a relational understanding.
Another relational task followed, but this time choice was given  either comparing two ideas using a comparison alley or using an analogy map to create mental models for how these two ideas work. I was pleased to introduce choice as some of the analogies were very revealing. I particularly enjoyed the students likening lymphocytes to a bottle of  bleach as they release a chemical against pathogens.

All of these tasks were designed to be about five minutes in length and very much focused on the content. The next one was more complex but I'm hoping will lead to a detailed sequence. Again a relational task but required several pieces of complex information being used. The keywords here are the conceptual parts of this content.

The final task was to complete the fact in fiction task. This involves writing a fictional story inserting relevant facts along the way, but the clever bit is the insistence that the facts are underlined along the way. This encourages the use of key vocabulary and regular reflection. It is obvious when work is lacking in the content, this visual nature makes it easy for the students to see omissions and flaws in their work. There are opportunities for students to work in an extended abstractt way here and at the very least it encourages relational thinking. (See below for an example) 

SOLO taxonomy has helped the planning by making it easier to see the increase in the demand of each task and focus on the key connections important for understanding this topic. It is in this way that knowledge and understanding can be built, and teachable moments found and then focus upon what matters, in understanding and for the students at that time. Simple everyday tasks are easily sequenced to plan for (more) complex responses in student work. 

 An example of Fact in Fiction task

A weary travellers tale.
 (A fact in fiction writing task)
 Bob and Billy are twins. Identical twins the same in every way. They have just returned from holiday in China. Bob is jet lagged but is generally just dandy! Billy is not. He is feeling unwell. He has a fever, diarrhoea, and a rose coloured rash. Five weeks before they went, they had an appointment to be vaccinated for Typhoid and Malaria. Unfortunately, Billy had double booked with a hair appointment. His hair look superb on the plane, even the air hostess said so! 

 Your task is to complete the story of Bob and Billy outlining how Billy gets better with the help of his immune system. You must use as many scientific facts as possible. Underline them as you go. Make sure you include the following

  •  How the white blood cells in Bobs body are working to protect him. 
  •  Name the two types of white blood cell
  •  How they immune system will fight the disease
  •  What its means to be immune 
  • What a vaccination is and how it works. 
  • Which disease Billy has, why you think this and what type of microbe is causing it

 Good luck.

Student work using fact in fiction 


  1. Not come across 'fact in fiction' before - great idea. Good job Darren

  2. Excellent way of marrying together essential skill development and content. Loved the way you explained the steps in your own thinking too. It is clear you are applying the same logic to your own learning.