Knowing how to structure and mediate a session can be a bit daunting if it’s your first time, but this guide aims to arm you with everything you need to run a successful session.

Once you have a grasp of the basic format of a session, there’s no need to over-prepare – this is an adventure for you and the students in your SOLE to figure out together.


A SOLE session is split into three phases: Asking the Big Question, the investigation, and the review. The exact times for each portion of a session will vary depending on how much time you have. This is a sample plan for an hour-long session that you can adapt to fit your own needs.

Question – 5 minutes

This is your introduction, tell a short story, show the students a creative prompt, most importantly, pose your question. Find out more about what makes a good question.

Investigation – 40 minutes

Let the adventure begin! This should be the main portion of your session and is the time that the students use to explore your Big Question. During this time you may need to ask open and useful questions, and offer encouragement, but you should try to remain as invisible as possible.

Review – 10-20 minutes

Use this time to listen to what the students have been learning and facilitate a discussion about the question and their process in answering it. Praise their work and encourage them to think about what they did well, and what they would do differently next time.

Getting started

At a start of a session it’s a good idea to explain how a SOLE works to the group and the things they’ll need to do to get going:

  • Get into groups of about four
  • Each group should have access to one computer
  • The students can move groups at any time
  • It’s okay to share learning between groups
  • Everyone can move around and talk freely
  • You will be largely ‘invisible’ during the session – it might be an idea to get the students to nominate a mediator who can liaise with you if need be

Using School in the Cloud during a session

You can use School in the Cloud to help run a session in your SOLE by heading to the Big Question page for some ideas.

There is also a useful video introduction to SOLE which you might like to share if it’s your first session with a new group of students.

Your role during a session

Every session is different, but during the investigation you should try to be as ‘invisible’ as possible.

You can use this time to observe children’s behaviour and how they interact with each other and work on the Big Question. Make some notes during the session that will help you track progress in future, or give you things to discuss during the review.

It’s not unusual to run into a few challenges; these can range from one child being excluded to an entire group not working on the task. In most of these situations you should be encouraging, remind them about some of the ground rules (like being able to change groups). We also have some advice about dealing with challenges.

The more comfortable you become in letting the children run the session, the easier it should be to remain invisible, and to let learning happen.

Presenting discoveries

At the end of the investigation time, each group should present 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 the Big Question, or have drawn the wrong conclusions, they can learn a lot from talking about how they got to that answer and from other groups who may have had a different approach.