I will probably write about this whole PL project, including RISE on my blog. It is something that I am really enjoying seeing evolve. As I said previously, it does feel a bit uncomfortable to commit to this kind of forum. To really be honest about my/our learning. There is often an assumption about what we know/don't know. We can often feed that assumption, nodding when we don't really know what is being said or even praying that someone else will say they don't know so that we won't look, well, stupid. I guess it is human nature. Just the other day, Tom, Patrick and I were looking at how we could potentially measure how much content knowledge (or pedagogical content knowledge!) we each have. Tom suggested using a framework called SOLO Taxonomy. Now SOLO taxonomy is not new and I had heard of it before. Perhaps I should have known what it was in some depth. Perhaps I should have already been using it. Perhaps people would judge me if I 'owned up' and said that I really didn't know what it was; what kind of Principal is he if he doesn't even know that? Our vanity can really affect our judgement at times. I could have gone along with it, nodded and pretended I knew exactly what Tom meant. I could just play along until I worked out what it meant and then pretended I knew all along.
This time I didn't play along. I asked Tom to explain what SOLO taxonomy was as I had no idea how it related to measuring content knowledge. Or anything.
Tom used Mexican food as an analogy to explain SOLO taxonomy (he knows me well enough to know that explaining concepts through food will always deepen my understanding!). I will share it with you!:
Unistructural - If you have a unistructural level of understanding, you can probably name an item of Mexican food, say, a taco.
Mutistructural - To have a multistructural level of understanding, you can probably list most common Mexican foods, eg tacos, burritos, fajitas, chimichangas (stop now, Jamie).
Relational - A relational level of understanding of Mexican food would mean that you could name the common ingredients found in most Mexican food, eg beans, cheese, chipotle...
Abstract - An abstract understanding would be able you to consider what are the similarities in foods used commonly in other countries? Or you would be able to explain why the common ingredients are so common (in the case of Mexican food, it is all cheap and grown locally, which is probably a common trait for foods across the world).
For me, I could now begin to consider how SOLO taxonomy could be used at Panania. I could begin to explain the framework to someone else. Had I not said 'I don't know', I might never have known, or even dismissed it in favour of a better model, without really being able to effectively compare and contrast.
Is this something we can spot in the classroom, students pretending to know for fear of looking stupid? How can we change this culture in the classroom? Within ourselves?
How could we use SOLO taxonomy across the KLAs to measure our own pedagogical content knowledge?
I don't know - three powerful words that invite opportunities for learning.