A SOLO update

Four weeks have passed since the start of the year so it’s a good time for me to reflect and evaluate my SOLO journey. This year my focus is on implementing SOLO (Structured Observed Learning Outcomes) in my science classes. The purpose of this journey is to explore how I can allow my students to become better self-regulated learners, to become better at assessing their own performance. Over the Christmas holidays, I used a book called Using SOLO as a Framework for Teaching to re-design the units of work in Term 1 so each unit is framed around learning intentions and success criteria for SOLO.

Here is an example.

I decide to use ‘levels’ rather than the proper terms for SOLO to make it more student-friendly.

Level 1 = unistructural and multistructural

Level 2 = relational

Level 3 = extended abstract

The poster below has been made for students to see in the classroom. The ‘levels’ were also explained to students at the start of the year and briefly in each lesson.


All my lessons now start with an explanation of the learning intentions and success criteria. At the end of the lesson, each student looks back at their work and tick off which level they have achieved.

Through informal conversations with students, they say they like it as they know what they are expected to be able to do right from the start and they like ticking what they can do; it lets them explicitly see what they have learnt.

Over the next few months I’m going to embed the SOLO levels to self evaluation and peer evaluation tasks. Eg. Students marking their own and each other’s writing based on SOLO levels.

However, I need new ideas on how to better implement this. At the moment my students copy the learning intentions and success criteria in their books. One positive about this is that it acts as the settling down activity. It also makes the context of the activities they complete in their books clearer when they revise. Now they have a lesson title, learning intentions and success criteria right before the glued in worksheets, writing tasks, etc. What I don’t like about it is that copying learning intentions and success criteria is not a ‘minds on’ activity. I used to do quick quizzes, which are short questions that revise the previous lesson. While they are not the highest order questions, they do require students to use their brains more than copying text from the board.

So here’s my dilemma: Should I continue with my current routine of having students copy learning intentions and success criteria or replace this copying with quick quizzes and have the learning intentions and success criteria printed on slips of paper for students to glue into their books? Note that half of my classes require strict routines and do not cope well with changes. I’m concerned that it if I change things now, it might throw out the work I’ve done so far to get them into this routine.

What do you think I should do? How do you set up learning intentions and success criteria in your classroom?

12 thoughts on “A SOLO update

  1. I love your posters! I have a suggestion. I recently watched an Ofsted training film in which copying down LOs was criticised but for drop in pace after a buzzy starter, rather than as a settler. David Didau (@learningspy) has some lovely ideas for turning the sharing LOs into a thinking activity, the simplest of which is to miss a key word out for students to work out. Elegant, I think.

      • Hi Alice. I see these posts are nearly 3 years old. I’ve love to know if you are still using this SOLO approach. My schools is just starting this journey. Any advice or pointers would be greatly appreciated.

      • Hi Kylie. My faculty still uses SOLO for year 8-10. All programs have a learning intentions and success criteria sheet for teachers to use with their students. I think that has made the strategy sustainable.

  2. I love the way you have simplified the SOLO Taxonomy. The visual cues work really effectively too. Mind if I use them with my class? It does seem a shame to get rid of your more active learning method of quizzes to review previous learning. Could you get students to verbalise learning intentions after a few sessions and then record these yourself for the group’s reference?

    • You are more than welcome to use the poster. I need to find a way to make the learning intentions and success criteria more active. I like the idea of getting student to fill in the blanks while they are writing them. At the moment I’m still leaning towards going back to the quick quiz and getting students to glue in an already printed slip with learning intentions and success criteria.

  3. Hi Alice! I came across a recent tweet of yours regarding your use of SurveyMonkey and EdModo and think the work you’re doing here is great. Would you be interested in talking about some of the work you’re doing with SurveyMonkey and your students in the form of a guest blog post?

      • Hi there! Excellent! Apologies for the delay in response. Please feel free to write me with more details. Thanks so much.

      • Hi there, Alice. Just checking in to see if you might still be interested in a guest blog post with us?

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