How can you get through to the top students that they need to take more risks in their work, while at the same time help lower ability students realise that each step in their learning can build on the previous one, until they too can get a higher grade? I first heard about SOLO Taxonomy in 2014 at the Pan Hillingdon Teaching and Learning conference. A teacher showed how using SOLO (structure of observed learning outcomes) can help students evaluate their own work and understand the steps they need to go through to improve. It can be accessed by students from primary school age to Year 13. At first I thought it looked a bit confusing and a bit too much like hard work to bother with, but when you actually take the time to understand it, it is extremely helpful and sits beside what you’re doing already but in a more visible format. More importantly, the students just get it immediately. I created my own taxonomy for A Level students, aligning their grade descriptors against the solo taxonomy table. I found it helped them see that there’s a process they need to go through to get to the top grades, i.e. you can’t just jump there without building the foundations, and that they can’t reach those grades without being ‘extended abstract’.
There’s a great video explaining SOLO taxonomy through the medium of Lego which my year 12s and 13s found helpful: