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THREE STEPS TO SOLE

ASK A BIG QUESTION

STEP ONE: In the Question Phase, the educator introduces the Big Question and shares some background or a short story around the question. It’s important to remember not to lead students to an answer or in any way reveal what they should learn. Big questions should lead to more questions, and don’t have a single right answer.

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INVESTIGATE

STEP TWO: Students organize into groups. From this moment, the educator simply let’s the adventure begin! Students begin exploring the big question, jumping on computers and searching for answers. In some cases, open and supportive questions may help, and very important, offer encouragement.

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REVIEW

STEP THREE: Each group now presents their discoveries. This is one of the most important elements of the session as it gives them a chance to think more deeply about what they’ve found out, and how they discovered it. Ask the groups how they found their answers and what they think went well - as well as what they could do differently next time.

Learn more →

STEP ONE

Ask a Big Question

In the Question Phase, the educator introduces the Big Question and shares some background or a short story around the question. It's important to remember not to lead students to an answer or in any way reveal what they should learn. Big questions should lead to more questions, and don't have a single right answers. Our site includes thousands of questions aligned to standards to help you get started using SOLE in your classroom.

What makes a good Big Question? Elementary teachers share some useful guidelines.

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A great big question is the key to a successful SOLE. Teachers offer guidance for selecting provocative questions.

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STEP TWO

Investigate

Students self organize into their groups. In some cases, teachers have found that the process runs better when they assist in the formation of groups. From this moment, the educator simply let's the adventure begin! Students begin exploring the big question, jumping on computers and searching for answers. In some cases, open and supportive questions may help, and very important, offer encouragement. For the most part, educators should remain invisible. Yet, it's not unusual to run into a few challenges, ranging from one child being excluded to an entire group not working on the task.

In most of these situations you should be encouraging and remind them about the ground rules, like being able to change groups. You can find more advice for dealing with challenges on this website. The more comfortable you become in letting the children run the session, the easier it should be to remain invisible, and let the learning happen. If your students have not done this before you may watch them struggle to figure out the process. It is important that you let them figure it out on their own. You should only intervene if they are way off task and creating an unsafe learning environment for themselves or others.

As one educator described it:

"I was really nervous about doing it initially and had concerns about how the students would interact with one another. However what surprised me was that the students corrected each other and created an environment where they each showed off what they could do--especially when we had good questions the students were amazing in finding solutions and using the information to answer these questions in ways I never thought they would do."

Elementary students and teachers describe their experiences collaborating to investigate big questions.

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If the idea of self-organized high school students seems intimidating, these practical tips from teachers can help.

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STEP THREE

Review

Each group now presents their discoveries. This is one of the most important elements of the session as it gives them a chance to think more deeply about what they've found out, and how they discovered it.

You should use this time to get excited about what the students have learnt, praise their discoveries and encourage debate between them. Ask the groups how they found their answers and what they think went well - as well as what they could do differently next time. Even if they haven’t answered your big question, or have drawn the wrong conclusions, they can learn a lot from talking about how they got to that answer and learn from other groups who took a different approach.

And with that, you're now ready to try out your first SOLE. It may seem a bit daunting, but it's as easy as you've just seen. And remember our community is here to help each other, so if you have concerns or challenges, post on our facebook page of the site and someone will there to help you. And pretty soon you will be a SOLE Leader yourself and you will be able to help others.

Elementary students present their work, and teachers offer advice on evaluation criteria and feedback.

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Teachers discuss organizing the review, using SOLE to setup future lessons, and handling student disagreement.

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