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SOLE PROCESS

BIG QUESTION

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 answer.

INVESTIGATION

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.

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. Ask the groups how they found their answers and what they think went well - as well as what they could do differently next time.

HOW SOLE WORKS

LEARN MORE ABOUT STARTSOLE

SOLE means Self-Organized Learning Environments (SOLE) that combine technology with student-led inquiry. It can exist anywhere in the world where there is a computer, Internet connection, and students who are keen to learn. SOLE focuses on the process of learning itself instead of simply focusing on the results. It helps prepare students for success in today's era of technology and information. SOLE is the brainchild of Dr. Sugata Mitra.
In 1999, educational researcher Dr. Sugata Mitra conducted his pioneering “Hole in the Wall” experiments to study how children learn in self-organized settings (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3jYVe1RGaU). In New Delhi and remote areas of India, students who had little to no formal education were given access to a computer and high speed internet while a camera monitored their interactions. The results were incredible and almost impossible to believe. Children with little or no input from an adult instructor led themselves on a process of enthusiastic exploration, discovery, and peer coaching that resulted in the ability to learn almost anything- new languages, the solution to complex questions, science and math, and more. Fourteen years of research and iteration since then continue to support these startling results. Professor Mitra has honed this work into a concept of Self-Organizing Learning Environments or SOLEs, which draw on children’s natural curiosity to create a dynamic space for students to learn, interact and develop critical problem-solving skills. Professor Mitra’s vision has earned him the first ever one million dollar TED Prize.
Today’s educators are challenged. To succeed in life, their students require skills that are not always in their set course curriculum – critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communications. Yet few educators have the tools to accomplish this. SOLE helps transform education by providing an early intervention in education that can level the academic playing field and increase equity among all students.
A SOLE session is simple to implement. It takes about 30 minutes to learn how to conduct a SOLE, and all you need is a computer, Internet connection, and students. SOLE is done in three steps:
  • 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 answer.
  • Investigation: 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 lets 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.
  • 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. Ask the groups how they found their answers and what they think went well - as well as what they could do differently next time.
The three major benefits of SOLE are:
  • Students develop critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication skills.
  • Students build motivation and independence, as they want to answer the “Big Question” and present to the class. They even interact around the next question to investigate.
  • Teachers shift their role from knowledge provider to facilitator of student-led learning.
A multi-methods evaluation was carried out to assess SOLE’s effectiveness. The following are some of the highlights from the research:
  • Students increased engagement and enthusiasm.
  • Students improved their academic, social, and self-management skills.
  • Teachers shifted their roles within the classroom.
  • Teachers shared SOLE with other teachers organically.
  • Teachers used SOLE to become more open to other pedagogical changes.
  • Students’ self-confidence and presentation skills increased.
Dr. Jeffrey McClellan heads STARTSOLE. Prior to leading SOLE, Jeff founded SOLE CLE and MC2 STEM High School. He served as Head of School for 7 years at MC2 STEM High School. The school received recognition during the POTUS State of the Union, was featured in the book Deeper Learning, was referenced in Marco Rubio’s book American Dreams and has been documented in many places, including Edutopia’s Schools That Work Series. Jeff has also worked internationally to build innovative educational programing and has published on topics such as Grounded Research and the non-cognitive factors associated with sustained student achievement. Jeff has also delivered a TEDX CLE Talk on “The Student Success Triangle.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6TmvUDimoU)
Any educator/teacher can use SOLE. You can turn any classroom into an engaging learning environment with STARTSOLE. Just sign up through our website or download the App to get started.
We understand that trying anything knew in your classroom is a challenge, so we've partnered with Cleveland State University to offer continuing education units for teachers who document their SOLEs. We award points for each SOLE you complete after it has been reviewed by our team, and for every 2000 points you earn (3 reviewed SOLEs) you will be awarded a continuing education unit certificate delivered directly to your email.