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What follows is my somewhat enthusiastic approach this past week…
I tried using hexagonal learning with all my classes this week (no half measures here!
), and want to recount two classes experiences in particular — both S2 classes (aged about 13).
Regularly writing essays allows you to develop and practise your essay writing skills and is something you should aim to start from early on.
It’s important to get into a routine: Whether you aim to write an essay once a week or once a day, every bit counts. The quality of what you write is much more important than the quantity and as such, you should focus on what you write about and your expression and organisation of ideas.
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I don’t know how well my overall approach to SOLO is going to go — it’s still too early to tell — but what I can say after my first week trying to apply some of the ideas in my classroom is that hexagons are amazing.A common piece of advice is to aim for about 500 words, but the most important point is to focus on the quality of your essay rather than the quantity.If you can express an idea clearly and effectively in less words then do it.The next step was to pair them up with their neighbour/shoulder partner, and to see if they could combine their hexagons into one bigger mosaic.Given that they had had to come up with their own initial hexagons, none of them had exactly the same things written on them.In simple terms, they are a physical/concrete means of encouraging learners to move beyond understanding.In other words, they are used to take statements of facts and basic knowledge of the text/topic/subject/theory/etc, and to ‘see’ the relationships between them.This also converted wonderfully into some of the most focussed essay writing they have done for me.In addition, what struck me after the fact was that, for the first time, they weren’t asking me to check what they had written was OK every couple of sentences.As I was reading through the reflections of other teachers who use SOLO, I recognised a common technique that many use when teaching: hexagons.As best as I can tell, these originated with Damian Clark on his In Visible Learning blog, though I first encountered them from David Didau’s Learning Spy.