SOLE-Japan started in Kani, Japan in 2016. It’s a privately run school currently operating on weekends when students have time to come. The students are mostly High School age. Parents and guest teachers are encouraged to attend these sessions too; there are often as many adults present as children. We also run occasional SOLEs at local universities.
Our primary goal is to encourage students to take control of their own learning, to teach themselves new, interesting topics on the Internet. We use the standard SOLE enquiry-based method – at the beginning of the session we pose a Big Question and then take a step back while the students research the topic in groups. Most of our students are approaching college entrance exams. Their regular school classes tend to be regimented and their studies involve a lot of rote memorization. SOLEs are freeform, casual, informal and offer intensive discovery of useful information. This is a welcome change for the students.
Our secondary goal is to promote English presentation skills. After finishing their research on the Big Question, students compile their findings using presentation software. We coach them on pronunciation, intonation, sentence structure, and other English skills. And we coach them on posture, body language, interactivity and other presentation skills. We encourage peer feedback. At the end of the sessions, students give their presentations in front of everyone. We give final positive feedback and the session ends.