Post: SOLO Hexagons: a powerful systems thinking strategy



SOLO Hexagons: a powerful systems thinking strategy

SOLO Hexagons is an effective systems thinking strategy to support and advance student thinking about complex subjects, from a surface level understanding to a more conceptual level.
SOLO Hexagons

What are SOLO Hexagons? And how does this system of thinking work in the classroom? Read on for more information

What is systems thinking?

Systems thinking is important for developing informed and active citizens, working for the future of their planet. With effective systems thinking strategies:

  • students think critically, creatively and collaboratively
  • they are better equipped to find out how the parts in a system interrelate
  • students understand how any individual system works within other systems
  • students recognise how these systems and relationships change over time.

Well-grounded systems thinking has real-world implications. It supports students to become citizens who take an informed and active role in the world. Therefore shaping the future of their planet.

Working with SOLO Hexagons

SOLO Hexagons is a fusion of SOLO Taxonomy and hexagonal thinking, for this reason it is a powerful strategy for teaching systems thinking.

SOLO Hexagons meets all the effective systems thinking strategies criteria: it is flexible and adaptive, used collaboratively and individually by all ages, with content at varying levels of cognitive complexity and developmental difficulty.

The strategy consists of three steps:

  • Step 1: SOLO multistructural level of understanding (surface understanding)
    Students share their individual knowledge by placing data on hexagon tiles, in collaboration with other students
  • Step 2: SOLO relational level of understanding (deep understanding)
    Students reduce the responses by forming clusters of tiles with related ideas.
  • Step 3: SOLO extended abstract level of understanding (deep and/or conceptual understanding)

Students identify a shared problem, solution, insight or abstraction using combinations of the linked responses.

SOLO Hexagons also make it easy for students to self-assess the level of their learning outcome and to know what their next steps are.

Using SOLO Hexagons as a systems thinking strategy reduces the cognitive load so that students can advance in their thinking about complex subject that requires solutions urgently, such as finding innovative solutions to climate change.

An effective way of strengthening thinking skills

SOLO Hexagons develop and extend student thinking at the SOLO multistructural (surface), relational (deep) and extended abstract (deep and conceptual) levels.

With its easy six-sided connections, this systems thinking strategy offers an easy and effective way of helping students strengthen their literacy about any complex subject.

Using the strategy makes students’ thinking visible, protects students from cognitive overload and enables them to monitor their learning progress from surface to deep outcomes as their understanding develops and extends across the different curriculum levels.


For a real-world example of how SOLO Hexagons can be used in the classroom to investigate climate change, see our four-part blog. You can find a SOLO Hexagons Generator here.

You can read more about the powerful strategy of using SOLO Taxonomy and hexagonal thinking in Pam Hook’s new resource SOLO Taxonomy and Hexagonal Thinking.


Enrol Now

How to Teach Writing, Spelling and Grammar

Enrol Now

Building Social and Emotional Skills and Wellbeing

Enrol Now

Cultural and Social Inclusion

Enrol Now

Foundations of Communication, Language and Literacy