Category: Years


After spending a wonderfully indulgent grown up evening with @KEVBARTLE last Wednesday, where we watched the sun go down over Torbay, we discussed all manner of topics from music, food, benefits of twitter and Kev’s view on the world of teaching. My NQT brain was spinning at all the information I was absorbing, plus the wine which went down rather well on a school night.

However the most important discussion came about through our talk about the work both of us were doing with SOLO.

Now my pupils really do wonder about the point of national curriculum levels. My school like most others I guess is obsessed with reporting data every six weeks, with both a level and an attitude to learning level, and just lately we have added a new column QWC! (quality of written communication) with associated sliding scale!

But I was having trouble getting the kids to realise that levels don’t always apply to the quality of learning that is going on in the classroom. Some government junkie has allocated these levels for various skills that the children have to meet and they differ across all the subject with numerous AF strands. How on earth are they supposed to know where they are going or where they have been?

Our department has taken the reporting of levels to another dimension, with us having to complete a Level Assessed Task at the end of every module we teach, nor more tests, just chose a AF, choose a task, assign a level!!!

So I was wondering how using SOLO I could evidence …… brace yourself, here comes one of Kev’s weasel words PROGRESS without having to show the level, also to get the kids to look at their JOURNEY! rather than for the level.

Plus in true CYA style, making sure I have evidence for HoD that what I am doing is not some ‘namby pamby’ new age dance, but is rooted in solid achievement.

So on @kevbartle’s advice I embarked on another new adventure on the Thursday morning in school.

He suggested that I took the level ladder of the task and ask the kids to look at the levels and assign the SOLO criteria to each of the descriptors, ensuring that they were using them correctly, in addition also explaining why they were applying that level.

So armed with four coloured highlighters and a lesson plan thrown out the window I gave it a whirl.

At first they struggled with what I exactly wanted them to do, more on my part of not explaining it very well (can’t have been anything to do with the wine the night before!)

But eventually they got the hang and comments were coming forth like ‘Miss how can this be level 5 when it is only unistructural, or maybe multi’.

The light had dawned that the levels that we issue aren’t in line with the learning journey that they go on.

Next stage was to get them to self assess the LAT they had just completed to see where they could highlight their SOLO levels, once again with choruses of ‘Miss but I am a mixture of all the levels now, how will you mark this?’ How will I indeed.

Once they had finished their own marking, I asked  them to peer assess someone else and see if their assessment matched those already on the page. Upon returning their work I then gave them a further opportunity to improve on what they had done, seeing where they were unistructural, multistructural and where they could get further detail added in.

See pictures for examples of some of the work…

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This young man is a NC Lv5 but he managed to use some good SOLO levels reaching Relational.

20121003-040250 PM.jpg This pupil underestimated her achievement but understands why she is actually further along her journey

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20121003-040330 PM.jpg This young lady is a very reluctant participant in class, with low belief yet her work shows a level of understanding that she didn’t realise she had.

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I have now started to mark the redrafted work and it is amazing to see the new found confidence in the work. The children knowing what they needed to do in a more structured way have included detail that wasn’t even on the level ladder.

I think most of them have exceeded their so called predicted target in the first assessment and I can only see them getting better.

So I would recommend taking your level ladders and doing something similar to see what effect it has on the quality that can be produced in the so called Level Assessed Tasks.

National curriculum levels I think your days are numbered.

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Year 7 flying SOLO

After a disastrous (well in my opinion) disastrous day trying to use hexagons for revision with a low set 8 group, I was wondering whether I should give it all up for a bad lot.

However after much sympathy and encouragement from a my new friends on twitter @LGolton and @CanonsOPP I resolved to try again with a lovely and accepting year 7 group, who already think I am completely mad so it wouldn’t matter if it all went horribly wrong.

I introduced the terminology using a Sparkol presentation which was met with gasps of awe, (so easily pleased)… I then gave them a blank rubric and used Tait Coles (@Totallywired) X-factor card sort which, after first asking them to assess where they were on the rubric.

The kids sorted the cards easily and we discussed why they chose the levels and got them to discuss the links. I next asked them about Exeter Chiefs ( slight modification from Leeds Tait,) at which point most of the kids said they were at Prestructural. So once again card sort and off they went allocating the terminology no probs.

So now for the test. We have been covering the topic of rocks formation etc, but had not put the whole rock cycle together yet! Using the blank rubric, I asked them to assess where they thought they were and fill-in why they thought they were there.

They were very honest, with most saying they were at Multistructural , with a couple still purporting to be at Prestructural .. Yet how is beyond me…!

Now to the hexagons, I divided groups into 4, gave them the hexagons and asked them to make the links and to see if they could put the rock cycle together.

Well off they went like long dogs after a rabbit, the TA’s were amazed at how quickly they took to it.

I got to spend loads of time talking to each group discussing their links and extended their thinking and developing connections, so much so, that my ole’ devil from training days ( last year) reared its ugly head; TIME….. which I ran spectacularly out of, so didn’t get to draw they cycle out using their new knowledge.

Oh well next lesson. So feel happier to day and will keep going SOLO till I get all my classes on board.

I just have to become extended abstract now.

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