What To Do! What To Do!

I remember having this dilemma approximately 14 years ago……….. A clairvoyant once told me that change happens every 7 years. Admittedly it was one of those phone call mediums. To this day I cant believe I phoned it but I was desperately mind searching for something and I didn’t know what. So what happened 7 years ago? Mmmmm now that was a time i would like to forget. I was teaching in a year 3 classroom as an LTR at the time.

Sometimes change is forced upon us and sometimes we have to soul search. Just like I am doing now. What to do? What to do? 14 years ago I wrote some goals and a deadline. I gave myself one year to make a decision about what I wanted to do. Twelve months later I was accepted into a class of 50 EDO students studying distance and online to become teachers. Here I am 13 years later a Deputy Principal in a wonderful school I love very much. Yet I want change?

SOLO Connections

Since presenting at TeachMeetNZ, at uLearn13, I have made some new connections with other educators working with SOLO. When I first began to use SOLO I was working on my own and found this to be very difficult.
After working with Julie Mills she encouraged us, as a staff, to collaborate on our planning to get a school wide focus on the language we are using. Our journey with SOLO has now strengthened and we come together as a group to share, collaborate and create ideas about SOLO and our students learning outcomes.
It has been a great turn around from when I first started my journey with SOLO. It is a bit scary putting yourself out there on something you are still on a learning journey with but the pay off has been more connections and collaborative opportunities to develop my understanding.
In this story collaboration and sharing has been key to my developing understanding of SOLO.
Go Collaboration!
SoloSymbols (1)

Inspiring Action

As the Deputy Principal and ICT lead teacher in my school, I am very interested in how I can inspire action from my peers. I was introduced to Simon Sinek’s model of the Golden Circle when I attended an Emerging Leaders Ignition Unconference.

During our Techie Brekkies I used this model to start a Teachers Inquiry into how an iPad mini can impact on student learning.

The ‘Why’ part of the Golden Circle was the most important part of our discussions and the ‘How’ and the ‘What’ came naturally after that discussion.

10 October 2013

Just found this post in draft!

The Golden Circle model has worked well with inspiring collaborative action on blending our learning focus with the iPad mini. An example of this is in my post Cause and Effect.

While reflecting on the learning using the iPad in our class, with one student, we discovered that the learning was improved greatly when the student was working collaboratively with another student, in most circumstances.

Our next step will be to talk about ‘Why’ we would like more devices to use with our students.

Reflection, Thought and Action

Hi I am Melanie Matthews, Yr 5/6 Teacher, Deputy Principal, ICT Lead teacher of Broadlands School

I want to share with you  a part of my Journey using SOLO to engage my students in reflection,  to help them identify next learning steps.

What I am going to share today is a method I used to engage my students in raising their level of questioning around their own inquiries.using SOLO.

SOLO – Structure for Observed Learning Outcomes.

It is a simple structure for 3 different levels of understanding –




Just sharing stuff isn’t ok anymore because we can google everything! Google is an amazing tool that has loads of stuff. I wanted my students to use the stuff that interested them and think about their ideas in a new and different way. I was hoping their understanding of SOLO would help this.

I used SOLO to help them question above and beyond just stuff. To help them capture their audience within and beyond their classroom when they shared the results of their own inquiry. Our class mantra became ‘tell us something different’.

So we began a Mini inquiry –  which was technology based –   and embedded in this was the Concept of Inventions and Design. The students were already excited because they had researched local inventors  and invited a real inventor into their classroom.

So they began by writing their own questions on sticky notes and placed these where they thought they belonged within the SOLO framework. This is where some good conversations began about the types of questions they were writing.

We soon realised we needed to unpick the language within the thinking Maps, aligned with SOLO. In groups the students began to explore, define, describe,  and draw the different words associated with the thinking around the level e.g. compare and contrast, sequence, evaluate, predict, etc

Once the class had explored and shared their ideas around the language, they  were challenged to write questions using another level of  SOLO to guide this. To Raise their thinking and challenge their inquiry

This is where it became challenging for the students,as the questions were raising the level of thinking. So  the thinking maps were now being used and collaborative groups were formed naturally

At this point Students needed to be  encouraged  to give evidence for their thinking, for example predictions on Robots of the future needed to have supporting evidence for their thinking.

I was very pleased with the extended thinking that was developed within the students based on their new questioning skills. I now realise there is a need to facilitate more thinking around the relational and extended thinking maps, particularly with giving evidence for their thinking.

I believe SOLO is a great tool for many pedagogical reasons but in this story it helped my students to learn how to learn and think about their thinking.

Cause and Effect

After going to my professional blog to add a link to my presentation for TeachmeetNZ at uLearn 2013, I noticed I hadn’t posted since January. Over the year I have kept all my professional learning notes in Evernote and haven’t taken the time to collate and post to my blog  so here I am with my latest endeavours based on my professional development. I will also post my presentation here after I have presented.

Since I was introduced to the ease of creating books on the iPad using Book Creator by Innes Kennard  I have spent some time thinking about how to blend this into the learning in Term 4. I have also been running Techie Brekkies ,on creating books using the iPad, so the staff can also see the ease at which our students could become book authors. I like the idea of our students publishing their stories in another inspiring format.

The terms theme is science based with the rich concept of cause and effect. We are going to explore this learning in the context of  Ohaaki Wetlands, which is just across the road from our school. On our journey we hope to find out more about the importance of this environment and what DOC have been doing over there and why. The idea is that the students will gather information, photographs and evidence of cause and effect within this environment so that they can write a book to inform others of their findings. Some students may choose to write their book on the Whio which is a duck close to our heart as we have been involved with the Tongariro National Trout centre and their focus on protecting the Whio and the environment they need to survive.

The Big Question

‘Can I help others understand the importance of the Ohaaki Wetlands?’