Student Oral Language Observation Matrix: Spreadsheet Style

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

A time-tested standby to help teachers understand English learners’ oral language proficiency is the SOLOM or Student Oral Language Observation Matrix. The instrument is not a test, but it is an informative assessment that teachers use to inform instruction. There are many versions in html, Word, and PDF, but an interactive version in Excel (.xls) may prove useful.

SOLOM and Excel

SOLOM is in the public domain, so you may find some variations in the various published versions of the Matrix.   Teachers and teacher educators use the Matrix, developed by the San Jose (California) Bilingual Consortium, for a variety of purposes:

  • It fixes teachers’ attention on language-development goals;

  • It keeps them aware of how their students are progressing in relation to  those goals; and

  • It reminds them to set up oral-language-use situations that allow them to observe the student, as well as provide the students with language-development activities.

    Source: Center for Applied Linguistics

Download SOLOM (Excel)

Download SOLOM (Excel) here.

The Box.net file opens in preview mode; to download, find the upper right ↓ download arrow. Figure 1 shows where to locate the download icon.

SOLOM (Excel)

Figure 1: Download from Preview Mode – SOLOM Excel

What are the advantages of the Excel version of SOLOM?

  1. You can replicate this SOLOM digitally without killing any trees (no paper needed).
  2. You can add sheets for each student to keep all your results in one file.
    • Each sheet is accessed by the tabs at the bottom, left, of the spreadsheet. See figure 2. This template includes three sheets, but you can add more if you need them. Start here to learn how.

      Excel Tabs

      Figure 2: Excel Tabs

    • If you choose to do so, you can calculate results across sheets – a topic for a future post.
  3. The Excel spreadsheet does the calculations for you, an important feature if you have many students’ results to enter.

Want to review some common Excel terms? Navigate here. Maybe you want to dive into Excel vocabulary a bit more deeply? Point your browser here.

SOLOM Practice on YouTube

Several good YouTube videos allow you and your colleagues to practice using SOLOM. Try this one. This Playlist may also be useful.

Excel Geek?

If you happen to be an Excel geek, you can read this paragraph. Otherwise, just skip to the “Sources,” below. Excel is a powerful spreadsheet that harnesses the calculating abilities of the processor on your computer (or in the cloud). This version of SOLOM employs the COUNTA function to actually count the number of entries for each column, the SUM function to add up the column totals, and the VLOOKUP function to assign overall scores to a proficiency level. Shout out to gebobs for helping me find the function I should use instead of the one I was unsuccessfully trying to use!

SOLOM Sources

The best original source for SOLOM I can find is found at http://www.cal.org/ and opens as a PDF.

I adapted SOLOM for Excel from Arch Ford Educational Service Cooperative;  in Word format at SOLOM. (note: I removed the word “even” from cell B8).

Please share your variations and adaptations of SOLOM (Excel) in the comments section. What might you do to improve this tool? How have you used apps other than Excel to improve SOLOM or similar assessments

Literacy in the Disciplines Page

You may have noticed that a new page tab appeared at the top of the Literacy Beat site. New resources for literacy in the disciplines (also known as disciplinary literacy) will be posted here periodically.

Diane Lapp and Thomas DeVere Wolsey have been putting together a multimedia collection of interviews between literacy professionals and experts in some disciplines. We started with art, music, and technology, and these are now live on Literacy Beat. We invited teachers to respond with ideas and insights, as well. We plan to add to this in the coming months, but we hope this will be useful to you as you think about literacy in the disciplines. The site includes videos and podcasts and a few online resources, as well.
Use the page tab or just click here to find the new page: literacybeat.com/literacy-in-the-disciplines/ 

Discipline-specific and Technical Dictionaries Online

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey 

One effective way of learning vocabulary specific to any given discipline is to use technical and discipline-specific reference sources. This list is not comprehensive, and anyone with suggestions to build this directory is encouraged to email me at info@iaieus.com or post a comment, below. Experts and practitioners use reference works that are specific to their fields all the time. What better way to help ease students into the world of your discipline than to guide them to the reference works that are specific to each field?

My criteria for inclusion in this list:

  • Resource must be fully accessible online.
  • Resource must be suitable (but perhaps challenging) for students in grades 6 through 12 and undergraduate (but not excluding those who are learning about the topic).
  • There is a reasonable probability that the resource will remain online for some time to come.
  • The resource presents accurate information that represents the field.

Art:

MOMA: http://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/glossary Search by artist, by theme, or alphabetically.

Business:

Inc.com Encyclopedia: http://www.inc.com/encyclopedia/ Search many entries relevant to business and entrepreneurism.

Web Copywriting Glossary: http://www.wealthywebwriter.com/web-copywriting-glossary/ Suggested by Benedict Paul (thanks!). I have included this in the business category, but it has some very good entries on writing (as you might expect) and technology, as well. (added 8/6/2015)

Literature:

Literature Dictionary: http://www.literature-dictionary.org/ Includes dictionaries of characters, dictionaries by author, and dictionaries of terms.

Mathematics:

Illustrated mathematics dictionary: http://www.mathsisfun.com/definitions/index.html. Easy navigation, intended for grades K-12.

Mathwords: http://www.mathwords.com/ Focuses on precision and readability. The site includes graphics to bolster the definitions.

Wolfram MathWorld: http://mathworld.wolfram.com/  Perhaps one of the most comprehensive resources for mathematics definitions on the web.

Encyclopedia of Mathematics: http://www.encyclopediaofmath.org/index.php/Main_Page An open-access resource with more than 8000 entries.

Music:

Naxos.com: http://www.naxos.com/education/glossary.asp Search alphabetically.

Physical Education:

Sports Definitions: http://www.sportsdefinitions.com/ Searchable by type of sport or alphabetically.

Science:

The Science Dictionary: https://www.thesciencedictionary.com/ This is actually a search tool that aggregates search results specific to science.

Enchanted Learning: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/science/dictionary/ Links to several specialty dictionaries by Enchanted Learning for students (e.g., botany, dinosaurs, land forms).

Geology Dictionary: http://geology.com/geology-dictionary.shtml Also, check out the map collections: http://geology.com/state-map/

Social Studies:

Ancient History Encyclopedia: http://www.ancient.eu/index/ Search alphabetically, by timeline, for images, or for videos.

Online Dictionary of the Social Sciences: http://bitbucket.icaap.org/ A comprehensive dictionary, designed for undergraduates, by Athabasca University.

Catholic Online: http://www.catholic.org/ So many figures and ideas are associated with the Roman Catholic church that a reference work may be very helpful. This one is supported by ads that can be annoying.

Taegan Goddard’s Political Dictionary: http://politicaldictionary.com/

Geography Dictionary & Glossary: http://www.itseducation.asia/geography/

Compilation of Architecture Dictionaries by Robert Beard: http://www.alphadictionary.com/directory/Specialty_Dictionaries/Architecture/ (Be sure to check out http://www.alphadictionary.com/specialty.html for many more specialty dictionary links. Some are better than others, but it’s quite a collection).

Technology:

NetLingo: http://www.netlingo.com/ One of the first and best (in my opinion) dictionaries for those interested in technology and internet-related terms.

~~~

Find more resources for literacy in the disciplines right here on Literacy Beat.

Literacy Beat Friday at ILA

Friday, July 17

Presenters:   Bernadette Dwyer, Jill Castek, Colin Harrison
Title:             Using Technology to Improve Reading and Learning in Transforming Adolescents’ Lives through Literacy. (Institute session #0865)

Presenter:    Bridget Dalton
Title:             Transforming Literacy Instruction through Online Inquiry (Institute 01 Session # 0997)

Presenters:   Thomas DeVere Wolsey, Dana L. Grisham, Linda Smetana
Title:             Academic Wordplay: Digital Strategies for Active Vocabulary Instruction In Vocabulary Collaborations: Pathways to Vocabulary Learning for All students, Grades 2-12 (Institute session #0986)
Title:   Vocabulary Self-Selection Strategy Plus (VSS+):Post-Reading Concept Development Using Digital Tools in Transforming Adolescents’ Lives through Literacy. (Institute session #0865)

Join Literacy Beat at the International Literacy Association

Literacy Beat Goes to ILA

If you are planning to attend the International Literacy Association July 18 to 20 (with Institute sessions on July 17), we would love to meet the friends of Literacy Beat in St. Louis. Please stop by one of our sessions and say hello!

Here is where you can find us:

Friday, July 17

Presenters:   Bernadette Dwyer, Jill Castek, Colin Harrison
Time:            9:00 AM–5:00 PM  (session 1:15 – 2:00pm)
Location:       America’s Center St. Louis-230
Title:             Using Technology to Improve Reading and Learning in Transforming Adolescents’ Lives through Literacy. (Institute session #0865)

Presenters:   Bridget Dalton
Time:            9:00 AM–5:00 PM
Location:       America’s Center St. Louis-263-264
Title:             Transforming Literacy Instruction through Online Inquiry (Institute 01 Session # 0997)

Presenters:   Thomas DeVere Wolsey, Dana L. Grisham, Linda Smetana
Time:            9:00 AM–5:00 PM
Location:       America’s Center St. Louis-100-102
Title:             Academic Wordplay: Digital Strategies for Active Vocabulary Instruction In Vocabulary Collaborations: Pathways to Vocabulary Learning for All students, Grades 2-12 (Institute session #0986)

Presenters:   Dana L. Grisham, Thomas DeVere Wolsey, Linda Smetana
Time:            9:00 AM–5:00 PM
Location:       America’s Center St. Louis-230
Title:   Vocabulary Self-Selection Strategy Plus (VSS+):Post-Reading Concept Development Using Digital Tools in Transforming Adolescents’ Lives through Literacy. (Institute session #0865)

Saturday, July 18

Author Signing:        Thomas DeVere Wolsey, Diane Lapp, Maria Grant.
Time:            12:15–1:15
Location:       Corwin Booth (#1138) in the Exhibit Hall

  • Mining Complex Text, Grades 6-12: Using and Creating Graphic Organizers to Grasp Content and Share New Understandings
  • Mining Complex Text, Grades 2-5: Using and Creating Graphic Organizers to Grasp Content and Share New Understandings

Author Signing and Presentation:       Bernadette Dwyer, Jill Castek, and Colin Harrison
Time:            3:00pm
Location:       Shell Education and Teacher Created Materials in the Exhibit Hall

Text:   Using Technology to Improve Reading and Learning

Sunday, July 19

Presenters:   Bridget Dalton
Time:           9:00 AM–10:00 PM
Location:       America’s Center St. Louis-123
Title:             Guiding technology integration policy:  How do we do that and why does it matter for schools and communities # FR02  Featured research session chaired by Annemarie Palincsar

Presenters:   Blaine E. Smith
Time:            11:00 AM–12:00 PM
Location:       America’s Center St. Louis-Second Floor Atrium
Title:             Composing Across Modes: Urban Adolescents’ Processes Responding to and Analyzing Literature # DP01 ILA Outstanding Dissertation Research Poster Session

Monday, July 20

Presenters:   Bernadette Dwyer
Time:            11:00 AM–12:00 PM
Location:       America’s Center St. Louis-265
Title:             Supporting Literacy and Learning With the internet: Nurturing Collaborative Classroom Communities (ILA Board Session # 01342)

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