Pedagoo Fringe Reflection on SOLO Workshop 8

Cross-posted from Reflections of a Learning Geek

What is SOLO?

How is SOLO different to Bloom’s?

How can SOLO be used to support learning progression?

As the sun rose on Glasgow’s Easy Hotel (recommended) this Sunday, my enthusiasm for my profession was as high as it has ever been and I remain full of excitement today! What a wonderful first ever Pedagoo Fringe! The atmosphere was amazing, the venue was amazing but above all the people who both organised and attended the event were and are amazing! In our reflection session we agreed to go forward and infect others with our enthusiasm and I certainly intend to do just that.

How could you not be inspired by this space?

Here is a brief overview of the discussion in the SOLO workshop and how we went about answering the above questions. We began by looking at what Bloom’sTaxonomy looks like in practice. As pupils gather knowledge and comprehension, much like the uni and multi levels of SOLO, they are gathering ideas on a topic (illustrated in the Macbeth example below). Application is using the ideas you have gathered in a task such as writing an essay on the topic. However, once you began to move on to analysis, you were once again gathering knowledge and then returning to applying that knowledge while synthesising.

The verbs and structure of Bloom’s Taxonomy are useful and can be organised into effective learning outcomes and effective questions by teachers (explained on the day in another workshop help by @GarethSurgey. Fantastic for us but not so easy for pupils to grasp.

Very Basically Bloom

SOLO is different as the steps are a far clearer path of progression for pupils. A number of people asked if pupils were put off by the terminology which, upon first hearing, appears to be a little space age. In my experience, pupils appear proud to be using the terms rather than put off. SOLO is to them something a little different but something they quickly get used to using. It creates a common learning language.

Anyone had this? I haven’t!!

One group discussed how the terminology is not important. It is the clear progression path that pupils can follow and understand that is the key to using SOLO successfully. Some people said they wouldn’t use the terms but would use the hand signals and symbols (particularly in primary schools). Others suggested allowing pupils to make up their own words for the symbols to give pupils ownership over using them.

Each level in a very basic nutshell

After sharing how my classes used SOLO in differentiated tasks and to become independent in their progression (found here) the worry over how much extra time would be spent planning using SOLO was expressed. Because the symbols can say so much:

Moving on up

Marking time is significantly reduced without removing any of the quality in the feedback. I can read the work and apply the symbol that best describes their current position – they do the rest. Also, once you have your head around each of the levels, it just becomes part of what you do and therefore time spent planning is just the same as before.

I also shared some generic examples of how this might really look and sound. Here is just one of these examples:

Example of SOLO in Generic Lesson

Pupils have been asked to create a presentation all about shoes. The teacher has asked for feedback and receives varied responses. Have a look at how the teacher uses SOLO to help each pupil to make more progress in this lesson.


As this means the pupil has missed the point there are no action verbs to accompany this stage

A PUPIL MIGHT SAY: “I know nothing about the topic; I have never heard of it before.“

AN EXAMPLE RESPONSE MIGHT LOOK LIKE: Shoes are worn on your hands.

TO MOVE ON: The pupil must begin to gather basic information on what a shoe is.


Follow simple procedure

A PUPIL MIGHT SAY: “I know a little about the topic but I have not done much research.”

AN EXAMPLE RESPONSE MIGHT LOOK LIKE: Shoes are worn on your feet.

TO MOVE ON: To become more multistructural in their response, the student must conduct research into types of shoes and their different purposes.


A TEACHER MAY ASK FOR THE OUTCOME Combine, Enumerate, Describe, List

A PUPIL MIGHT SAY: “I know lots of different brands of shoes, types of shoes and their different purposes.”

AN EXAMPLE RESPONSE MIGHT LOOK LIKE: Shoes can be worn to exercise, to dance, for comfort, for style. Different types of shoes include, stilettoes, trainers, pumps, wedges. Different shoes were popular at different times.

TO MOVE ON: The pupil must begin to make links between the information they have found about different types of shoes, their purposes and when they were popular.


Apply, Justify,
Argue, Relate, Compare/contrast, Explain causes A PUPIL MIGHT SAY “I have an excellent understanding of shoes and their purposes; I can see how modern shoes have evolved from a range of styles throughout the ages.” AN EXAMPLE RESPONSE MIGHT LOOK LIKE: Trainers are the most effective shoe to wear for exercise. This is a direct result of using a softer sole and adjustable straps to aid foot support. In contrast to this, a modern platform is more often used for style, having evolved somewhat since its first introduction to the high fashion scene in 1960… TO MOVE ON: The pupil must begin to question further their findings. They should use their expert knowledge to create interesting and individual ideas about the future of shoes.


A TEACHER MAY ASK FOR THE OUTCOME Create, Formulate, Generate, Hypothesise, Reflect, Theorise

A PUPIL MIGHT SAY: “I am very confident in my exploration of shoes. I can use my expert knowledge about their evolution to theorise about the possible future of shoes and their uses.“

AN EXAMPLE RESPONSE MIGHT LOOK LIKE: The platform rose to the height of fashion in 1960 and evolved over time to become far more sleek in its appearance. Similarly, the humble trainer began as rather a crude creation with the simple idea of comfort at its heart. Indeed, over time shoes continue to evolve and adapt to become sleeker, more appealing and above all far more ergonomically designed. Could the future hold a pair of stilettoes that actually shape your arches instead of destroying them? Let us look to the history of stilettoes to investigate this idea further…

TO MOVE ON: The pupil should never see their work as done and should always seek out new ways to apply their learning.

A powerful idea that was born from the discussion that followed was that pupils need to have a mirror held up to them to allow them to understand the learning processes that we all go through as human beings. SOLO helps this to happen as the pupils can see how one stage is necessary before another begins. Learning should not be “done” to anyone; that includes teachers! CPD should not be “done” to teachers…a thought I am taking back home to England!

To reflect on the initial three questions, we used the superb meeting room space and wrote all over the walls with our thoughts:

I would love to hear how everyone takes SOLO forward and cannot thank the Pedagoo team enough for inviting me to such an awesome event.

8 thoughts on “Pedagoo Fringe Reflection on SOLO Workshop 8

  1. Gareth Surgey

    Hi Lisa
    This is great (just sorry I wasn’t able to get to your workshop) but having chatted with others who did and read through your post I’ve now got something really useful to give to my pupils- in friendlier language – to help give them a clearer path on their learning journey.
    It’s certainly opened my eyes to new possibilities. Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!

  2. Lisa

    Thank you Gareth. Had such a good time I am still buzzing from all of the positivity!! Let me know how you get on and if you need anything, you know where I am… 200 odd miles away…and an email later x

  3. Neil

    Hi Lisa!
    Thanks for the handouts you gave me at the end of the day. Like Gareth, I was unable to sit in your session (as I was delivering my own). You had a real impact on the day and I can see SOLO taking off in a big way as a result.

    Kenny Pieper and I have been talking about implementing SOLO for a while, and thanks to you and Jill Adams, I think we can’t put it off any longer. We do promise to post regularly about our attempts so please chip in when you see us make mistakes!

    Thanks again for coming up to speak… and can we pencil you in for next year now? 😉

  4. Lisa

    I am definitely up for the trip further north next year! I wish I had been able to get into see some other workshops too. Perhaps could give each presenter one session off to visit someone else next year? I look forward to reading your SOLO reflections and if you need any help/ advice/ sounding board I’m happy to assist wherever I can. It was brilliant being welcomed by Scotland so huge thank you to you all xxx

  5. Carol Rae

    Hi Lisa. I am in the process of trying to implement SOLO with my P6 class and although I’ve bought 2 Pam Hook books on it
    There are fewer photocopiable resources for class display than I had thought. Do you have any suggestions about where to get some? For example, poster sized versions of the five levels?

    Thanks very much

  6. Lisa Ashes

    Hi, I tend to make all of my own resources. I created a wall display and have examples of each level for that which I could send to you but I think they might be a bit old for P6. I will ask about and get back to you

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