Each SOLE session is a unique experience, but these are a few common scenarios that we know other people have experienced. One thing to remember is that it can often take a few sessions for a SOLE to start working really well.
This will be a new way of learning for a lot of children, but with a bit of patience and perseverance you’ll quickly find yourself surprised by just how incredibly they can learn to work together and answer Big Questions.
The students keep asking me questions during their investigation
You’ll want to help – but resist! A common approach that works quite well is telling them that you don’t know the answers either. You can also remind them that you’re ‘invisible’.
You can also give gentle suggestions about how they might solve the problem themselves. Try not to give suggestions or solutions, but rather get them thinking along the right lines to come up with answers for themselves.
One child is distracted and unengaged
You can try reminding everyone that they can change groups at any time and are free to move between them.
An entire group is not working on the task
You can work with a nominated student mediator to remind the group of how much time they have left, and of the Big Question they should be working on.
If you reach the end of the session and they do not have much work to review you can use this period to ask them what happened and how they will approach it differently next time. Remember, for most children this is a new way of learning and it might take a little practice.
If you find they weren’t very interested by the question you used, you can also try things like letting them come up with questions for your next session.
A group presents an inaccurate or irrelevant answer
This is one of the reasons why the review section of a SOLE session is so important – it gives you the opportunity to ask questions about how they arrived at the answer by asking about their sources, processes and how they know that information on the internet is accurate.
Let them tell you what they might change about their process next time and remember that even if they reached an inaccurate answer you still need to be positive and provide encouragement.
Students complain that there is nothing to do because someone else is using the computer
You can help with these issues by asking students how they felt about sharing computers during the review section of the session. Work together to come up with solutions for future sessions and you should see the students’ ability to manage relationships and self-organise improve with each session.
I’ve encountered a challenge that isn’t covered here
If you’re encountering a different problem to those covered here, other members of the community might have experienced it themselves, or have some great suggestions for how to handle it.
You can ask one of our SOLE partners to get opinions from a global network of people who run their own SOLEs or see if there’s anyone within the SOLE community who might be working in a similar environment to you.