SOLO Hand Signs

by Pam Hook on September 21, 2016

in deep learning, SOLO Hand Signs, SOLO Taxonomy, surface learning

english_front_slide_450SOLO Taxonomy hand signs are a powerfully simple way to watch thinking in action. These spontaneous gestures of thought are a learning strategy that helps students and teachers make sense of learning.

In using gesture to represent increasing levels of cognitive complexity – surface to deep to conceptual (transfer) outcomes – SOLO hand signs have the potential to enhance the sense making in any learning conversation.

In my experience, once introduced the hand signs are quickly integrated into all classroom and staff room talk. Furthermore, the concurrent use of SOLO gestures with the SOLO terms and symbols captures, clarifies and reinforces the nature of the learning task and desired learning outcome.


When observing teachers and students who use SOLO to good effect you will notice the skilled and active use of this consistent visual imagery integrated within the classroom discourse. The SOLO hand signs help embody surface and deep learning.

I am curious about mimicry. When using SOLO hand signs you will often observe teachers or students who spontaneously mimic the SOLO hand signs of the speaker. They appear to borrow the significant gestures in ways that help both parties make meaning of the conversation.

The power of gesture is also evident when the SOLO hand signs are used in SOLO rubrics and visual displays.  The examples below are from Isleworth School in New Zealand.









Why do I post this?

Gesture is often neglected in conversations about effective strategies.  SOLO hand signs are a powerful pedagogical approach when used in isolation and when integrated with other multiliteracies.  These spontaneous gestures of thought are a learning strategy that do not need a printing or laminating budget. Use of gesture is generic – effective across any surface to deep to conceptual learning. They are a SOLO learning strategy that is easy to implement and cheap to sustain – and as such as they are worthy of our attention.



Leave a Comment


Previous post:

Next post: