My Physical Education SOLO Taxonomy Journey Continues

Using the Post It App on my iPad students easily move their post its from one level to the next

Using the Post It App on my iPad students easily move their post its from one level to the next

Last year I was introduced to SOLO Taxonomy. Shortly after, armed with inspiration and information I took the SOLO Taxonomy plunge. It BOMBED!
For starters,  I did a very poor job of assigning SOLO Taxonomy levels to the skill of  throwing and catching. Next, I had a poor system for students to move their sticky notes from level to level. In addition, almost all my students grossly overrated themselves. When we discussed why they had inaccurately assessed themselves, students told me they were uncomfortable with the public-ness of their numbered sticky notes. Many of them said they moved their sticky note based on what their friends did.

Still determined to make it successful, I had students switch to sticky notes with their own little drawing on it. Now I had an organizational problem, each class had to create their own note, I had to take them down and put them up in-between classes, I didn’t know whose sticky note was whose, and my levels were still all wrong.  So after this colossal failure, I put SOLO Taxonomy away.
Over the summer I kept thinking about how I might make it work. I knew it made sense to have students responsible for their own learning and assessment. SOLO Taxonomy seemed perfect, if I could just figure out how to make it work! I attended Jo Bailey’s SOLO Taxonomy session at the Wisconsin conference, and I picked Jorge Rodriguez’s brain for exactly how he was using it with elementary students. Fortified with more knowledge, and a great PLN, I was ready to give it another go.
This past week was monumental, not only did it work, it was brilliant. My students shared such deep understandings and learnings at one point I tear came to my eye!
The first two days I just introduced  and reviewed the different levels, asked them to think about where they thought they might belong, but didn’t have them move any sticky notes. During this think phase, my lessons supported the first three SOLO Taxonomy levels by teaching skills sequentially and using peer coaches to “run clinics” on the skills necessary for the Unistructural and Multistructural levels.

The magic happened on day three and four. On day three, after an instant activity, I quickly reviewed the different levels. I then instructed the students on how to use “PostIt”, a free sticky note app on the iPad. The Postit app made moving the sticky notes more private. I let students know they could grab the iPad at anytime and move their sticky note. In addition, if they were going to move it to Relational or Extended Abstract they needed to be able to discuss with me their rational. At the conclusion of the lesson, not all students had moved their sticky note. When I asked why, they suggested I designate a time for them in small groups because otherwise they felt like they had to choose between the activity or moving their sticky note.
Taking my students’ feedback, I designated a rotation where small groups of 3 or 4 students rotated out of the activity for 2-3 minutes to self assess. When I questioned students who designated themselves still at the Unistructural or Multistructual levels their reasoning was spot on. They had assessed their own skills accurately. The discussions I had with students who were moving to Relational or Extended Abstract were astounding. Initially I wanted to lead their discussions, but I learned if I just let them stammer about with very little questioning or leading from me, their explanations reflected their own thinking. And most importantly, their own thinking was not only varied and thoughtful, their ideas were brilliant!
Later when I was reflecting on this process, I realized some of my students still hadn’t taken full ownership of the self assessment process. It still felt like it was my thing and they were just being compliant.  I think I have the remedied this by asking my students to set a goal.

This week we began a unit on jumping rope.

Day One Jumping Rope SOLO Taxonomy:
After our instant activity, I reviewed specific SOLO Taxonomy levels for jump rope.
Next I asked students to think about their starting point. All of my students were able to identify where they thought they would be based on my reading through the levels.
Then I had my students set a goal of where they would like to be at the end of our unit. They were excited to start on the process of moving their Post it notes along the levels. It seemed the goal setting gave them ownership. At some point, I will survey my students to find out their views of SOLO Taxonomy.

Here are the SOLO Taxonomy units I am using, they are specific to Colorado State Standards but would also fit within the National SHAPE standards.

Solo Hockey

Solo Jump Rope

Have you used SOLO Taxonomy? If you decide to give it a try, I would love to hear from you. You can always email at

6 responses to “My Physical Education SOLO Taxonomy Journey Continues

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience Lynn. I am currently doing a touch unit with grade 5 and after 2 initial lessons want to get into solo taxonomy for the first time. Your ideas and feedback will help me to finalise my set up for the next lesson. Excited to see how it goes!

    • I haven’t tried tchoukball with my students. I attended a session at a conference this year and it seemed super fun! I was thinking it would fit in well with a striking unit. Please let me know how it goes.

  2. I am just learning about SOLO taxonomy and very interested. Of course I am interested both for K-12 but also my university students. I plan on learning more!!

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