SOLE Australia Network

In late March 2014 Richmond Primary Senior School were privileged to share our SOLE session on ‘What makes us human?’ with Sugata Mitra via Skype at TED Talks Vancouver. This short video was created by grade 5/6 students to share their experiences of Self Organized Learning Environments and connecting to others around the world using Skype.

-Patrick O’Sullivan, @possa11

  • SOLE Project as a Capstone Experience

    We have launched a SOLE project with our eighth grade students that is functioning as a capstone experience. It’s been fascinating to watch the students adjust to the freedom and responsibilities of the SOLE. Engagement has picked up on the part of the students. The teachers are growing as well in this environment of observing, not directing, the students. We’re seeing students in a different light. The project has dedicated time each week for the remainder of the semester with presentations occurring in May. We’re excited to see where the students take their learning.

  • KIndergarten Start Doing SOLE!


    Jennifer Weales, a Kindergarten teacher in my school, has been exploring the world of wonder with her class. She is working to extend the natural wonder of childhood into the classroom. The students have explored space by working through centres that help them ask questions about space. The other day a Blue Jay stopped by on the tree outside the window. The class spent some time observing and then asking questions about the Blue Jay. Why is it blue? How do birds fly?What does it eat? How does it find food in the winter? Why doesn’t it fly south?  She answered their questions patiently encouraging them all the time to tell what they think.

    Since September my Grade 5 class and her kindergarten class have been reading buddies. This was done to foster a comfort level among the students in both classes. In January we are going to start doing Wonder Buddies. Working together the Kindergarten and Grade 5 students will research answers to questions the Kindergartners have. We will be using SOLE as a basis for this research. The grade 5`s will lead the research, discuss the findings and prepare the Kindergarten student to speak in front of the group about the topic. In doing this their wonder will have a great audience listening to them and prepare them for more investigations on their own. 

  • Sole investigation for Language Arts

    8th grade Self Organizing Learning Environment.  ”How could a Poem change History?” Other than the slide, the question, and the access to the internet, the teacher gave no assistance in any of their presentations.  All information was discovered independently.

  • Why Classes should do SOLEs - A Persuasive Essay

    This is a persuasive essay written by Princess Rebullo, a fifth grade student in Mr. Jamison’s class at Lawrence Intermediate School in Lawrenceville, NJ.

    Do you ever wake up in the morning and think “School again?” You go to school and talk to your best friends. Then you look around and see how you can’t talk to everybody. Self Organized Learning Environments, also known as SOLEs, are a perfect way to work and cooperate with people in your class.  They get the students’ minds thinking and learning about new questions they’ve never really thought about.

    Learning and thinking more really helps your mind get going. SOLEs will help you leave your comfort zone and think outside of the box. Instead of your teacher teaching you a lesson on what the topic is about and you finding more research about it, you get a tough question and find all the information you need for it. Then we make a PowerPoint and present. SOLEs also teach us how to be confident when your speaking, and to be loud and clear.

    Big questions can be hard and challenging. Sometimes when we first hear the question, you think this is really confusing, but when you start to get information you realize how easy it actually is. Hearing a big SOLE question makes you think how you never really thought before. Like say you got a question about mudfish and how they help build houses.  You think to yourself, Mudfish? What are mudfish? But as you get to research about it, you find things you’ve never learned before.

    The last reason classrooms should do SOLEs is to communicate and cooperate with all your classmates. You will need to know each other in order to work together. That’s important because you can learn from each other. Plus you’ll be with those kids for a whole year, so you might have to learn how to collaborate with them.  

    SOLEs aren’t just big questions.  They’re also a way to work and get to know people, and find strategies to answer complex questions. Throughout the process you can also find the way you learn best. I encourage you to try and do SOLEs in your classroom!

  • Eric at Jenkins Middle School conducted this SOLE with his 12-14 year olds. His question: How could a poem change history?

    "Students were given three days, 50 minute classes, and were allowed to use computers and smart phones or tablets.

    "Many students simply googled the question. However, this moved many into research about what a poem is, the history of the word itself, and the nature of poetry in general. Some moved quickly into their own interests when they discovered that songs are poetry set to music."

  • Expanding the SOLE Community

    Thank you for sharing and helping expand the SOLE Community, Trina! We hope as you expand your blog, you continue to post here, and use #TEDSOLE. Stay tuned for updates at

    "Having read about SOLE and already being a believer in child directed/inquiry learning, I have committed to do SOLE work with my 2 boys (aged 6 and 8) this school year as a home learning initiative (we are in New Zealand so our year starts in February)

    As a part of this, they want to blog about their SOLE work and share it with children in other parts of the world via the blog, skype etc… and hopefully start conversations with others which may lead to even more exciting places than they can get to on their own and truly help them become world wide, motivated learners.

    So if you are interested in following our journey, we will be using expanding our blog site we created for our trip to the USA last year at and I would love you hear from anyone (home or school) either through there or here…”

    -Trina, New Zealand

  • I am proud to share with you that I have conducted my first SOLE session successfully at my centre.
    The 1st topic I tried: Can animals think?
    Emily Lai
    Selangor, Malaysia 
  • History of Numbers

    I’ve been using SOLE explorations with a small class of 4th and 5th graders.  The theme of the class is to find out where our numbers came from.  Last class they had an especially successful SOLE on Babylonian numbers.  Not only did they discover how the base 60 system works.  They also found out that the Babylonians could predict eclipses and that we don’t yet know how they watered the Hanging Gardens.

    Some students are taking the class because they are super interested in learning more about math.  Others are taking it more because their parents signed them up for it.  One girl, Emily, in the latter group was clearly reluctant to attend the first day.  By the middle of the very first SOLE session she was a leader in one of the groups.  Another student exclaimed at one point, “Emily is figuring it out and then she will explain it to us!”

    Another really interesting result of the self-organization was their reaction to one student who had not been as focused as the others during the first exploration.  He watched panda videos and one point instead of researching about Chinese numbers.  The group excluded him and gave him a hard time.  This resulted in him working extra hard during the second day we did SOLE to show the rest how focused he could be.  I love this method because the group keeps each other on task while at the same time developing social skills.

    The questions we’ve used so far:

    How did ancient Chinese people do math?  (this led them into mistakenly thinking a modern multiplication algorithm was from ancient China, but they learned so much in figuring out how the algorithm worked that I still declare it a success!)

    Who were the Babylonians and how did they write numbers?

    Where and when did people start using Hindu-Arabic numerals?

  • Adapting the SOLE Method for adult learners

    Peter Palme of Switzerland adapted to SOLE method with adult learners. He found that research was more accelerated in a group, and that “learning is high, fun, engaged, integrating, interactive and allows to get into a subject quickly.” He also observed that groups with both experts and non-experts on subjects helped each group learn better. For the experts, it was a helpful exercise to have to explain things in an easily digestible way.

    Peter Palme, Switzerland