SOLO Text Highlighting is a simple and effective strategy to strengthen student self-assessment. Using SOLO coded discourse markers helps students build fluency when assessing the SOLO level of their learning outcome – and for that matter – next steps – how to strengthen their next piece of text. For more on SOLO text highlighting strategy refer Hook (2016) and Hook and van Schaijik (2016)

When starting out – teachers use simple prompts – [because] or [so that] to help students identify outcomes at a SOLO relational level – or [make a claim | because (reason) | because (evidence)] for outcomes with a SOLO extended abstract structure. As student confidence grows teachers increase the number of SOLO coded “connectives” students can work with. The figure above shows a SOLO Connectives display in Sonya Van Schaijik’s room at Newmarket Primary School, Auckland New Zealand.

Another resource that teachers and students enjoy using is the HookED SOLO Discourse Markers handout (refer below). Ask if you would like a copy of these SOLO resources to use with your students.

Hook, P. (2015). First steps with SOLO Taxonomy. Applying the model in your classroom. Essential Resources Educational Publishers Limited. New Zealand.
Hook, P., and Van Schaijik, S. (2016). SOLO Taxonomy and English Language Learners. Making second language learning visible. Essential Resources Educational Publishers Limited. New Zealand.

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Thinking about discourse analysis and the importance of “WHY”
The secondary literacy community has been talking about “why” and where it might fit with SOLO Taxonomy. I’ve tried to play but it seems that my attempts to join in disappear in moderation and my passwords never let me pass. Is easier and quicker to think aloud here.

If you look at discourse analysis in literacy you will see that “WHY” sits squarely at a SOLO relational level of cognitive complexity (representing deep understanding) – this is because “why” requires the students to relate or integrate ideas – make links between ideas to make meaning. In primary schools using SOLO as a model of surface and deep outcomes – “why” (and the discourse markers – “because” “so that”) are used in SOLO highlighting of text to show a relational level outcome

WHY falls under – Informing – explanations

  • explain HOW – processes happen (sequential – SOLO relational))
  • explain WHY – sequences of causes and effects (causal explanation – SOLO relational))

Explanation represents a logical pattern – e.g. process x occurs, so process y results, which in turn causes process z etc. Students start by identifying the phenomenon to be explained and then follow with the implication sequence that explains it. This interpretation forms an important step in the process of skilled and active critical thinking.

Explanation can involve

  • Sequence of events – sequential – [Draft thinking supported by SOLO Sequence map and rubric – relational task]
  • Multiple causes for one outcome – factorial – [Draft thinking supported by SOLO Explain causes map and rubric – relational task}
  • Multiple outcomes for one cause – consequential – [Draft thinking supported by SOLO Explain effects map and rubric – relational task]
  • Multiple conditions and outcomes – conditional – [Draft thinking supported by SOLO “If … then” map and rubric – and SOLO “Explain why in multiple steps” map and rubric developed with Derek Neve at Waimate High School – relational task]

AND each of these is supported with a SOLO Map and self-assessment rubric – so that students can learn the structure of the response at surface and deep levels.

Looking at explanation – you could argue that in some circumstances “explain” encompasses clarification – so you explain when you:

  • clarify an idea (explain what it is about or like – make the detail known
  • elaborate a process (explain how to do something or how something works)
  • interpret (infer – explain meaning)
  • explain cause or reason (explain why)

And then because task and outcome can be at different levels with SOLO it is possible to make clear differentiated success criteria for student outcomes when explaining how and why

For more reading around “WHY” and where it sits in SOLO Questioning

Rose, D. (2010) The Routledge Handbook of Discourse Analysis. James Paul Gee and Mike Handford (eds) London: Routledge, 2010

iPad SOLO Question Generator App –
– Teachers and students can use the Question Generator app to learn how to ask the questions that matter most. Using SOLO Taxonomy as a framework, this app generates questions to bring in ideas (to build surface understanding); questions to connect ideas (to develop deep understanding) and questions to extend ideas (to create conceptual understanding). Use the SOLO coded question banks within the app or create your own, either way you will learn how to ask great questions – relevant, appropriate and substantial questions.

Hook, P. (2016). First steps with SOLO Taxonomy. Applying the model in your classroom. Essential Resources Educational Publishers Limited. New Zealand.

PS Exercise great caution when you see SOLO symbols mapped onto other representations – it often pretends to a certainty of alignment that doesn’t exist – and can neglect appropriate attribution e.g. the common mapping of SOLO levels onto the Wiederhold Questioning Matrix (Wiederhold and Kagan 1998)

Swings and Roundabouts and SOLO Taxonomy

June 30, 2017

“Hook and Casse have nailed it!” Working with early childhood educators this week reminded me of the great review we got for SOLO Taxonomy in the Early Years -Making connections for belonging, being and becoming. The book was co-authored with that fabulous early years teacher Bridget Casse Using SOLO Taxonomy as a model, young learners […]

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New Ways of Thinking about the Science Capabilities

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A new book is always a moment of celebration – a marking of a collaboration stuffed with many examples of how to think with the science capabilities in the context of the material world. Hook, P., and Tolhoek, W. (2017). Using SOLO Taxonomy to Think Like a Scientist. How to develop curious minds with the […]

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Making explanation visible with SOLO Taxonomy

June 25, 2017

I have recently enjoyed thinking with Derek Neve (Waimate High School) about the challenges in making “explanation” visible to senior secondary students (NCEA Levels 1 to 3). When visiting Waimate High School this term Derek challenged me to develop a visual SOLO map and rubric to support a deeper factorial and sequential explanation process than […]

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SOLO Hexagons iPad App

June 19, 2017

Dead chuffed to announce that SOLO Hexagons has just been released on the Apple iPad Store. Love the versatility in new SOLO Hexagons App – the team at CactusLab has developed earlier work by Dave Carpenter and have captured that “sandpit pedagogy” feel that makes SOLO Hexagons such a flexible strategy for shifting students from […]

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SOLO Taxonomy in Gladsaxe Kommune in Denmark

April 23, 2017

Travel involves a lot of alone time – a lot of waiting in public spaces time – with opportunities to observe and new provocation for thinking. Reflecting on the different places visited makes me realise that I prefer to gaze uninterrupted – on this most recent trip – I did not use a camera – […]

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Update on Danish version of First Steps with SOLO Taxonomy

December 17, 2016

It is great to finish 2016 with a fab review. This one is for the Danish translation of “First Steps with SOLO Taxonomy.  Applying the model in your classroom.” Published by Dafolo. The review in Danish is featured in Læsepædagogen nr. 5/2016.  After describing the content the reviewer states: “I truly believe that many students […]

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SOLO Hand Signs

September 21, 2016

SOLO 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 […]

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Horses for courses

September 2, 2016

Embed from Getty Images Just as there are “different horses for different courses” so there are different learning strategies for different stages of the learning process A recent article by John Hattie and Gregory Donoghue (2016) uses meta-analyses, effect sizes and a more nuanced model of surface and deep understanding to look at learning strategies […]

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