Developing Independent Learners Through the SOLE Project

As a culminating experience in our Middle School, eighth grade students accomplish a Self-Organized-Learning-Environment (SOLE) Project. Inspired by Sugatra Mitra’s “School in the Cloud” Ted talk and the tenets of experiential learning, the SOLE Project provides students the opportunity to design and accomplish a project of their choosing and then present the product of their learning to an audience they generate themselves.

“This project is possible because the faculty trusts the students to think independently, to set their own goals, and to accomplish something meaningful that affects their world. The SOLE Projects are a celebration of our students affinities and provide a window into their own soul,” said Joel Bicknell, Head of the Middle School.”

Students are given four prompts to stir up ideas or they may create their own prompt. Experts, identified by the students, help them generate ideas as well as mentor them in their project. Faculty merely supervise. Some may be chosen as experts, but the majority of experts tend to be individuals outside of the Holland Hall community.

This past year, some of the projects included passing out food and clothes to homeless shelters, composing music, creating original music videos, making documentaries, programming arduinos, and organizing a book drive for a local public school.

The final performance includes an audience of Holland Hall community members from all three branches of the school as well as non-Holland Hall members that the students invite themselves. With the project designed to not be graded, the performance provides an authentic assessment that encourages students to put forth their best efforts. In doing so, the students showcase their individual passions and talents and how they hope to affect their world.

Does your school do something similar?

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