Towards a SOLO taxonomy

A while back on ukedchat there was a session on SOLO taxonomy. I had never heard of it, and from initial tweets I could see that it might have something to do with blooms. I also confess to being a bit lost, because inevitably the ‘oh, another thing to learn!’ thought crept into my head.

But, James Abela sent me an excellent tweet to this presentation, which I will embed here and let you view in your own time:

What immediately struck me about SOLO was how it takes what’s good about Bloom’s taxonomy but also places it in a way that it can have a consistent and clear impact in terms of lesson progression.

So, over the next few weeks I am going to try and use SOLO in my lessons and will post what I think about it here. My initial ideas are that it would be excellent for focusing students’ minds on how they can develop their ideas about one particular element, lets say ‘personification’ in poetry, as that is a recent focus in our lessons. Stay tuned!

Reflections on introducing a discussion on ‘multimedia’ within a school

cc mic phone photo by m.keefe

Photo by M.Keefe, used under cc license

This photo seems to address my mood ahead of delivering the staff inset issue. While it was nice to have a ‘loudspeaker’ to the whole school, I was very conscious (as a lowly English teacher with no other responsibilities), of making the most of the opportunity to encourage others to share and develop good practices associated with multimedia.

This is a reflection on a session I gave to the staff in my school on a whole school session, on a baking hot Thursday afternoon, fairly close to the end of the school year. My intention was simple; I wanted in a way to show that I was doing things in the classroom with multimedia. I also enlisted the help of another colleague, which I felt would help strengthen my argument that it was possible that more than a tiny minority of teachers within the school are trying to use multimedia to enhance teaching and learning.

The talk itself was based around showing quickfire examples of multimedia usage, mainly based around website used. As I have done extensively on this blog, I summarised my use of diigo with Key Stage 5 students. I felt that I was careful not to English-ify my talk and I deliberately gave quick demonstrations of sites such as wordle and freeplaymusic which I felt could have applications accross more than one subject area. I then asked my colleague to speak and I thought she did a fantastic job with a small slot of introducing the concept of ‘podcasting’ to the staff. She spoke honestly about the positive and negative experiences (the negatives were mostly about the problems with computers!) of taking such an approach. Afterwards I bought the session to a close and introduced the next stage of the session – the staff would now split off into groups to discuss how they felt about the issue of using multimedia in school. The discussion would be shaped by a series of questions that I adapated from Pan’s (1999) ‘Using technology to promote teacher action research’, a great paper which can be found (partially) on google books if you search for ”Information Technology in Educational Research Statistics”, itself an excellent book! Here are a few of the prompts:

  • Is multimedia used to impact on student learning in your classroom?
  • Do you think multimedia can be used to solve real issues associated with learning?
  • Can you name a particular student who is benefitting from using multimedia?

Reflections wondering around

So after I’d delivered the sheet and the talk, it was time to ask the staff to split off into four groups, all mixed-subject and reflect on what their own experiences with multimedia were like in our school. This was an opportunity firstly, to get out of the sweltering heat, but more importantly for me, to witness any impact that my words or my colleague’s words had produced.

I decided early on that instead of staying in the group I had been placed, I would give myself an opportunity to have a peek at what the other groups were upto. By no means did I see this asĀ an opportunity to walk into the other three rooms and tell them exactly what they should be doing – rather I saw it as a way of observing the differences in how the groups had absorbed the short lecture they’d just been given.

One room was particularly organised and arranged themselves in a circle and were working their way through each of the prompts on the sheet by having an open discussion. Meanwhile in another room, all of the teachers went straight to computers and seemed engrossed in examining the websites on the list I’d handed out. Given the limited time teachers have to consider this issue anyway, I found myself reflecting that the different approaches of different groups was perhaps a good thing, in that it seemed clear to me that people were finding different ways to react to what had been said. I had been deliberately unperscriptive about exactly how the ‘discussions’ should take place – the only thing I had asked for is that staff take the time to feel in a final reflection on what we had done on a sheet of A4 paper, that was essentially to be their responses to the various prompts that had been adapted from Pan’s work. So, some of these responses were filled in at the end of the discussions, others were filled in after they had been looking at the various reccomended websites individually. This variety, although not wholly intended has led to interesting responses which I intend to put up in my next entry – they are interesting enough to warrant their own blog entry, I promise!

Conclusions drawn

You always build up expectations for things like this – for me it was the culmination of a year of intensive experimenting in my own classroom with multimedia. I genuinley felt like I had found interesting and engaging resources that could be applied accross a variety of subjects. Thinking ahead, one of my main aims was essentially the simple way of showing my colleagues that I knew something (hopefully) worth knowing about multimedia – I hope this will play into my hands as I begin to try and encourage collaboration with our ICT and multimedia throughout the year.

Watch this space for some of the responses from staff in future blog entry and an analysis of the implications they have for my own work and how they might reflect wider perceptions of positive and negative thoughts on the use of multimedia to promote teaching and learning.

Wii’s and social gaming

I was watching my girlfriend’s nephew today try and get his Wii to work. I suppose I’ve missed out on this currentĀ generation of games machines, mainly because I know I don’t have the hours in the day to play them (and memories of being very, very addicted to Final Fantast VII).

Anyway, to get to the point of this blog. When you first load up a Wii, you are confronted with many menus, one of which is where you can load up a ‘space’ where all the avatars that can be used in some of the multiplayer games are (I think it was wiisport). Inside this very cute virtual space are the avatars, each customisable and nameable. As if to underline how precise the whole thing was, we looked at the avatar of my girlfriend and her mother, both done at sepeate times, but with the same facial features.

I was struck by the interactivity of the experience – how this boy had made an image of his family and friends in a small place. It was another social use of technology and what I also thought was significant about it was that everyone in the family was then talking about how they’d come to create avatars and how they’d used them in playing the various games on offer.

Its marvellous to see videogames becoming much more of an overall experience for all. I’m not sure quite what this has to do with education or my own teaching, but it struck me as somehow being linked to the two. It’s something I intend to turn over in my head over in the next, rapidly approaching, working week.