I just wanted to share a lesson I did with my 5th grade science students. One of my teacher friends told me about the S.O.L.E. project that her school has started to use. First S.O.L.E. stands for Self Organized Learning Environment. To find out more about the project you can check out the website School in the Cloud or our local website is S.O.L.E. Cleveland. Both of these websites have excellent videos, lesson plans, printable and examples of "Big Questions. This is a wonderful video from the founder of School in the Cloud, Sugata Mitra. It really made me think.
The S.O.L.E. project has students or the teacher create a "Big Question" that they will answer through research and then share with the class. My fifth graders during our solar system unit asked the question, "Is there anything beyond space and if there is what do scientist think is beyond?" Now I have to admit I absolutely love my fifth graders' amazing thinking brains. I thought presto a perfect "Big Question." The students form their own groups and each group is only allowed to have one computer. The students can float between groups if the group they are in is not working for them. The teacher does not solve or interfere with the conflict. The responsibility is on the students to problem solve. The teachers is only there to remind them they can change groups if that group is not working for them.
The struggle is real.....
While researching their "Big Question" they came up with other questions such as: "What is the Hubble Bubble?" I walked around and many of my students wanted me to tell them what a Hubble Bubble was. I supported them and said they may have other questions that pop up that they may need to answer first.
Another issue that came up was that some of the groups were frustrated with only one computer. Many groups wanted to stay in big groups with their friends and I let them. They quickly realized that when I said the groups should be no bigger then 4 people and can only used one computer it was a good rule. The big groups started to struggle and I let them struggle. I asked them how can you solve that problem? I did not tell them what to do. They then realized that if they broke up into smaller groups but shared information between their groups they could work more efficiently. I love seeing the light bulb go on.
Present Info & Reflection....
The last 10 minutes of class the groups then presented their findings and asked questions. I did print off a printable located here for the groups to write down their information and then evaluate how their group did and how they did with the task after they presented. It was really eye opening to see their reflections. As well as truly amazing to see the students find answers to their questions, work as a group and enjoy completing a task all on their own. They totally were able to take ownership and reflect on how they could do it better next time. This definitely will be another technique I will be adding to my teacher tools.
Have you every used S.O.L.E. in your classroom or would you ever let go of the reins and let the students direct their own learning? I would love to hear your thoughts.