Wednesday, 27 January 2016

SOLO Taxonomy

SOLO Taxonomy

The Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes

Presented by Pam Hook

Resource Links

Solo Taxonomy Resource

Solo Maps

Solo Rubrics

SOLO Taxonomy
Why:  To accelerate student achievement.
What:  A simple learning model that can be used and adapted to all learning.  Research based with clear evidence that it works.

You need effort to learn,  the first effort is coming up with your ideas no matter how simple it may seem, then to connect your ideas, then finally extending your ideas.  Essentially this model create life long learners.

'Bring in' activities -  Bringing in ideas about a topic .  Whats your next step?  I need to 'connect my ideas'.

There are 3 types of negative label that learners often put on themselves that could be found in our classes:

Fixed ability 'Smart' - These children are essentially damaged because they have been told that they are smart and have often found school easy and boring.  But when challenged they do not show resilience and do not take risk, risk adverse.  Use excuses like I'm bored,  too easy ,  I'm still finishing it.  Rejects opportunities to learn if they might make mistakes.

Lucky -  I got a good mark or result because my teacher likes me or the work I did.

Fixed ability 'Not Smart' - These children have a negative attitude towards learning because they find learning difficult and when challenged by learning they use diversion tactics to avoid being made looking silly in front of friends.  They may make jokes about it to make their friends laugh, or refuse to do it,  have a melt down.  Essentially anything to avoid the learning process because they find it difficult.

SOLO doesn't label the learner it labels the learning.

Praise or feedback given by teachers has a huge effect on all learners in your classroom.  Praise the effort not the result.

Learning is not about being smart, dumb or lucky, its about bringing in ideas, connecting them, then extending those ideas and pushing them out somewhere new.

"The most powerful model for understanding these three levels and integrating them into Learning Intentions  and Success Criteria is the SOLO developed by Biggs and Collis 1982"
Hattie 2012 p54

Sandpit Pedagogy (Brainstorming on steroids.)  SOLO Hexagons
Students put ideas, information  or data onto hexagonal shapes.  They then try to join their hexagons depending on what the information is.
We tried this as a group,  we had to come up with ideas about morning tea.  We were able to link all our ideas.


This was an absolute light bulb moment of how these could be used in all areas, especially reluctant learners.  

As teachers if a student is prestructural ( have no ideas about a topic)  then it is your job to engage the students.  But that is the only part of the SOLO model that engagement is important.  What is important is the what the students are learning and the progress they are making.  Children can be engaged but making any progress.

What SOLO looks like for Primary school Children.
Prestructual -
Unistructural - Define
Multistructural - Describe
Relational - Sequence, classify, Compare & contrast, Cause & Effect, Analysis, Analogy
Extended Abstract - Generalisation, Prediction, Evaluate and create

A link to the Learning Intention Generator, that is an amazing tool for planning.  This produces a range of learning intentions for all area of the SOLO taxonomy model, which inevitably caters for all children in your class that would be working at different parts of the model.

SOLO Maps helps children unpack the different parts of SOLO Taxonomy.  It gives them the skills to define, analysis and all of the other skills at the different stages of SOLO.  Maps are a great way for students to organise their ideas, it scaffolds the planning process. 

Solo Maps

The Declarative Knowledge Rubric helps children understand where they are on the SOLO model when using the maps.  It gives them a clear pathway to their next step.

Functioning Knowledge - The ability to do it physically.  I can surf.

Declarative Knowledge - is the ability to talk or explain, write about a topic.  I can write about a surfer.

The Functioning Knowledge Rubric creator help children understand where they are when demonstrating something and what they need to do to move forward.

  • Its not just getting children to bring in their ideas but getting them to reflect on these ideas.
  • Don't give the children blank maps, give them clues in the maps such as technical language.
Achieving the learning goal.
  • Prior Knowledge - prior skills, prior competencies, prior attitudes, prior behaviors.
  • Link: ideas - relate - extend
  • Metacognition:  What I am doing? How well is it going? What should I do next?
  • Feedback:  on learning goals, with peers, with teachers
  • Multiple Ways: of knowing about a goal, of interacting with a goal, opportunities to practise.


  1. Great overview Scott, I love the Growth Mindset, Fixed Mindset work of Carol Dweak and really enjoyed her book Mindset. It was great to see how SOLO could be used with fixed mindset learners as a tool to give them strategies and structures to help their learning when it gets hard.
    I really liked the emphasis Pam put on the devices just being a tool that can make no difference to the acceleration of learning unless it is accompanied by good quality teaching which SOLO and the Learn Create Share Pedagogy can support. Looking forward to Day 2.

  2. I really like your rubric for resilience Simon. This forces children to reflect on their learning and actions. I look forward to discussing this with Ako Ngatahi children.

  3. Thanks Simon a thoughtful overview of a fabulous day of professional learning the Hornby Cluster. I'd love to see the resilience rubric when you have had a chance to personalise it for your students. Breaking the aspirational term "resilience" into smaller achievable chunks - stay calm - energised - engaged - focused - adopt a "can do" attitude etc. And then adding strategies along the bottom row - inspirational stories - role play - practice - modelling etc. Regards Pam


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