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.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Teachmeet North East - SOLO Taxonomy presentation.and the pedagogical purpose of the slides.

This is not a script, but, the pedagogical purposes behind the decision I made in creating my Teachmeet micro.

Click the link to watch the presentation.

The first two slides have the purpose of providing an emotional hook into the presentation and pose the conundrum about how we see and measure learning in the classroom. They are about how my son, and how he has developed his language skills from the omnipotent Waaoo to being able to read the word Mango without ever been taught to do so. This journey is visible and unmissable to every parent, but do we see this in our classrooms.?

I think SOLO Taxonomy is a way that we could do this for every student.

The slides tell the story of the increasingly knowledgeable pigs who are using increasingly sophisticated thinking to escape the clutches of an evil wolf. The bricks to house simile is on its own a powerful (not mine) way to visualise SOLO's taxonomy.The choice of a story makes it more memorable , engaging and more familiar, we learn by making connections to what we already know.We have all known the story of the three little pigs from childhood. The slides highlight how bricks of knowledge can be linked and built into more complex forms of demonstrating learning. The uses of different types of buidling materials for example roofing tiles, just adds to this image. To be secure the pig needs to use different materials in a coherent and coordinated way. SOLO taxonomy does exactly this.

In the background I use a range of what appears to be abstract images, a dot, a line a series of lines etc. These are a subconscious link to the real structure of SOLO Taxonomy. My students recognised this when I did this presentation with them. It is designed to give that familiar aahhh feeling during the video that appears later. As I have just said the brain likes to make connections with things it already recognises.

About half way through the story I indicate that something may or not be true. The pedagogical purpose of this is to pass the decision over to the audience. I have manipulated the SOLO taxonomy, but do not know if it is a valid change. I'm learning too. So all I am saying is I'm not sure here please think about it. Its that same as responding "maybe" to a student who asks if an answer is correct, they really go away thinking about it, which would not happen if you said "yes" or "No".

So when I show the video of the frankly outstanding primary students talking in detail about the SOLO structure and their learning with not only confidence but in an extended abstract fashion ( do you notice the consolidatory use of the SOLO taxonomy language there!) the symbols that are used are familiar.

I set the video up by hinting that the video may be from Biggs, the creator of the Taxonomy, by using the word expert. This was done for three reasons, firstly the students give a concrete version of the Taxonomy that I did not, secondly a little bit of humour makes a useful hook and that these students are truly inspiring. If i had of chosen another form of presenting the overall structure it may of appeared that it was useful for bright older students, but by using these young geniuses it clearly demonstrates that it is useful to all students. They really do provide a wow moment, as they show their genuine understanding of and appreciation of the Taxonomy. This was palpable during the presentation inducing a spontaneous round of applause. They did everything I could not do, making teachers want to get their students to be like them.

The next few slides just show classroom examples, for the simple reason that when you see a hierarchy or taxonomy it is not always evident how you can apply it in the classroom, so these just show a couple of real examples of its application and its impact on progress, despite only being introduced by stealth. I am only just beginning to fully develop these ideas with classes.

The final slide was not used, but was put in to potentially start a learning conversation at the Teachmeet, so some are a little facetious (well, most), others argumentative and other down right silly. The plan for using this slide was to display it as I walked of, leaving behind a list (too long to read ) of unanswered questions. Too many, to contrast with the lack of words in the presentation: a list as different people will start reading at different points, and the fact that it was impossible to read them all, in the hope that it would make it easy for someone to approach me to ask "what was that on the last slide.....". I wish I used it now, when is the next Teachmeet......So I guess its of to Hookedonthinking.com for more inspiration. Please check it out.


  1. Yes I am real.
    He-Man and Skeletor were one and the same - bi-polar facets of the struggle between good and evil on the planet Eternia.
    I would eat cracker and butter or cracker and butter and cheese but never cracker and cheese without butter. Expand.

  2. Obviously an attempt at humour but with purpose. The "funny" ones are spread amongst the serious ones, in the hope you would read on to find the next "funny". A motivation stratgey.
    Your thinking on He-man and Skeletor is extended abstract. well done Chris. Your thinking on Cheese or butter through the linking it to crackers is certainly relational, to move onto Extended Abstract you need to go beyond your own personal (wierd) point of view.