16 February 2013

Making Sense Of - ICOT2013 Goodness

The first I heard of SOLO Taxonomy was at Learning@School 2010. It was back in the glorious days when Flo and I were on a bit of mission to "try heaps". The mission was not clear, that's why maybe it sort of petered out after a few years, yet it was full of joy and questioning. Lots of goodness (one is visible here) came out of it and our friendship is all the richer for it!
So at L@S2010, Flo attended a breakout  where Pam Hook was introducing SOLO. Flo explained to me what she understood, and I sort of left it at that: I was like a possum caught in the headlights and had a kete full of stuff to look at again, investigate and went to look into ePortfolio and mahara-myportfolio as it seemed that providing info on this was answering a genuine need within my Community of Practice. Hence the need to revisit good ideas often, in different contexts, at different times for them to start taking shape...
I have since many a time come across teachers, mainly in primaries, who are hooked on SOLO. I have at times look into it: this introductory clip prompted me to pay more attention:
Lincoln High School Craig Perry and Fiona Bamford's ICOT2013 "Facilitating a whole school thinking framework for lifelong learning" brought it to life for me. (Their presentation here)
I chose to attend their breakout for several reasons: secondary school, lifelong learning, but also the fact that Fiona, Languages amongst other responsibilities, was presenting.

It was just great! And I am not even talking about SOLO! Craig and Fiona's was the story of a secondary school which over time, a long time, have trialled and errored their way into finding a language, common to all, across Departments and Learning Areas, teachers and students,  about learning to help the Lincoln students "say where their learning is at" and "know what they need to do to improve".
Craig Perry and Fiona Bamford ICOT 2013
A story of commitment to make a change, of champions dedicated to the cause, of persistance and of supportive, benevolent leadership. It also highlighted that change happens when specialist support from the outside combines with a genuine identified need from a community. That time is dedicated to make it happen and that it is understood that it does not happen overnight and that there are many hurdles in the way. I appreciated to see how the different Departments at Lincoln have applied SOLO to the NCEA Standards, so that students can see common across subject areas, to help crystalise their learning.  Fiona stressed she was still in the process of doing that for Languages. Nothing happens fast.  I also liked how from their adopting SOLO there is a common approach for literacy. That indicated a great deal of cross curricular collaboration.  I had the opportunity to go to Lincoln in March 2012 when Fiona and a team of Language teachers took a look at MyPortfolio:  I wished I went back to work with them now, equipped of what I know about their work and what I understand about facilitation: we could have made more relevant connections more quickly.

I think that we could benefit, as Language teachers, to hear more from Fiona's journey, how she has moved to thinking in "Thinking" terms rather than just in "Language Learning" terms, how it is effecting her students and her teaching.  We chatted briefly at the end of her presentation and she indicated she had once addressed Language teachers in a PD setting about SOLO but it was not much attended. Hum, maybe the word NCEA was not prominent enough in her prez brief to attract the crowds... (This is intended to be a sharp, cutting remark, you noticed?)

It also confirms that in order to change it is about sharing a vision, believing in it, trusting the process and enabling effective support.

Craig Perry published a really good blogpost today. An eloquent post where he writes that despite being opened to be challenged on his views and beliefs about SOLO by the "Thinking Gurus" at ICOT2013, he walked away all the more convinced that SOLO is providing what Lincoln is about for their students.

I want to come across more similar stories.

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