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.