Side note: This is dual post of my EdTech 537 course at Boise State University.
I am a HUGE fan of Dr. Sugatra Mitra. Dr. Mitra was a computer professor at a university in New Dehli, India which backed up to one of the slums. He had an idea. It was to see if children who lived in these slums could teach themselves how to use computers without any instruction.
After a while, he would go back and interview the kids. He found they had taught themselves English (for that was the language of the computers) and how to serf the web, play games, use a keyboard, etc. None of these children had seen or used a computer before. He concluded from his studies that no matter the educational background of a child, they can learn how to do anything.
For further information on his inspirational findings and talks, here are links to his TED Talk in 2008 which he talks about his "Hole in the Wall Project," his 2010 TED talk about Child-driven Education and his 2013 TED Talk about Build a School in the Cloud. You can also look at his wiki.
So Dr. Mitra created the SOLE program. SOLE stands for Self-Organized Learning Environments. The main premiss behind this program is allowing students to dig deeper with better questions. In social studies, often times, the framework is created to have students remember facts and dates. Using a SOLE question to help drive inquiry, has allowed my students to dive deeper into content than before.
Here is how I did it:
First you have to ask an open-ended question that is going to drive students to further their understanding. At the time we were studying early history of of East Asia. So I pulled up a modern-day population map of the area and asked my students, "Why do so many people live where they do?" I then explained how this project would work. They were to work in groups, needed to take notes any way they wanted to, and they needed to present their findings at the beginning of class the next day. Since the suggested time for a SOLE is around 50 minutes and my classes are 42 minutes in length, I had them present the next day. Ideally, the students should present their findings that same day.
After giving the initial instructions, I set my kids free and observed what was going on. If they had questions, I answered them, although in the SOLE program, you are supposed to nominate a student to handle these situations. But since this was our first go at it, I did not follow those guidelines.
Here is a picture of my students presenting their SOLE.
My students did a great job with identifying the physical features of mountains, plains, rivers, valleys, and fertile soil that would have drawn early people to the area. We even were able to draw current events into our discussions. All in all, I really liked the SOLE project and will be doing it again.
Here is how I would add the elements of Explore, Flip, Apply into SOLE. In its essence, the SOLE and Explore, Flip, Apply are very similar. The only difference is that in a SOLE, the teacher sits on the sideline and doesn't have interaction. I feel that this is a downfall of the SOLE. Teachers help student understanding by adding context they might not be able to understand or find in their searching. Here are two ways to add to a SOLE by using Explore, Flip, Apply. While the students are gathering information during their inquiry phase of the SOLE, sit down with students and have a dialogue. Remember that during the Flip phase of you are addressing misconceptions in the learning. If their are misconceptions after all your conversations, then create a video addressing those misconceptions. Have the students add the information to their notes to be added to their final presentation. Once they get back to class the next time, have them add that information to their final presentation. Or, after the students give their presentations for the SOLE, either address the misconceptions to the entire class (preferred because the longer a student knows a misconception, the harder it is to change it) or make a video about the misconceptions for homework that night. When they get back to class the next time, have them fix their presentations and represent.
What I really like about SOLE is that it uses inquiry to engage the students, it allows students develop great search skills, work on developing note-taking strategies, group work skills, problem-solving, critical-thinking, and improving presentation skills.
George Phillip is a social studies teacher and designer.
Ramsey Musallam - www.cyclesoflearning.com
Karl Lindgren-Streicher -
Josh Stumpenhorst -
Jason Bretzmann -
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