This year’s Knowledge Building (KB) Design Studio, themed ‘Saving Planet, Saving Lives’, was held on the 23rd to 25th of November. The aim of the KB Design Studio was to foster a KB community among students, teachers, leaning sciences researchers and experts in various fields, and to engage participants in creative work with ideas related to the event’s central themes. The KB Design Studio was a tremendous success for everyone that took part in the experience.
“I’ve learnt how to communicate and share my ideas with people.” – Student
“Thank you for making it so meaningful and the learning so rich for all the children.” – Teacher
During this year’s KB Design Studio, 57 students between 10-16 years old, and from across schools, demonstrated their capabilities in conducting research, improving ideas, and developing and designing ideas and/or prototypes that tackled real-life problems related to wildlife and human welfare.
This year, our overseas experts come from the Institute of Knowledge Innovation and Technology (IKIT) at OISE and The Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (KITE), both situated in Canada. Amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s KB Design Studio was completely online. Students, teachers and experts connected virtually using Zoom, and worked collectively to share ideas related to the theme and to advance community knowledge using Knowledge Forum (KF), KF Learning Analytics, and a whole suite of creative productive tools. Students successfully leveraged the KF online environment and the available tools to engage in deep discourse with one another in this fully virtual experience. Knowledge Building principles and pedagogies were key in shaping the activities, interactions and flow of the event.
Throughout the course of the three days, students were encouraged to work hard on their ideas related to wildlife and welfare, which was facilitated through expert’s sharing information and ideas about medical simulations, wildlife and biodiversity. Through this conversation and experts’ engagement with students’ queries, students’ interest in the topics peaked, making the issues and challenges they discussed real and authentic to them. Moreover, because the experts stayed actively involved in the students’ group discussions throughout the sessions, they continued to probe students to think deeper about the topic and encouraged them to build-on each other’s diverse ideas.
Students were also motivated to improve on their ideas from the previous days through the data analytics that were presented to them every morning during the KB Design Studio. A research team from the University of Toronto shared with students the frequent words that they used (Word Cloud) as well as the common words used between groups on the KF. Thus, the students were able to identify similar patterns within and between the groups that led to deeper inquiry about what they still need to know. Without much prompting, students were able to move to higher levels of inquiry whereby they showed more KF activity. Furthermore, students reflected on the analytics and saw them as a trigger to generate new ideas or even improve on their current ideas without much prompting from the facilitators or experts. Therefore, students were actively incorporating new ideas to work on their own ideas.
The students in the KB Design Studio also demonstrated high levels of epistemic agency, including choosing what they deemed to be a promising problem that they wanted to tackle and pursue. Throughout the three days, students identified problems, conducted research, and consolidated and integrated the diverse ideas that they had generated across the themes to get to “rise above” ideas. By collaborating on Knowledge Forum, students were able to share their experiences and knowledge about real world problems within and across their small groups, from improving the design of crutches to make them more user-friendly, to addressing the concerns of biodiversity and wildlife conservation in Singapore. Students were active contributors in growing their knowledge by researching information and building onto their peer’s notes on the online platform, and improving on their ideas to advance community knowledge. When visiting students’ groups, experts brought forth questions for students to gain deeper insight and also develop a critical mindset towards the experts’ sharing. Furthermore, the movement of nominated student representatives from each group gave students opportunities to exchange their diverse ideas across the community. Their hard work was finally presented at the end of the KB Design Studio to the whole community in the interest of supporting symmetrical knowledge advancement.
The teachers who participated in the KB Design Studio were also involved in a parallel professional development (PD) strand helmed by a Specialist from Ed Tech Division in MOE, and an NIE lecturer. The teachers discussed how to build knowledge building cultures in schools, the attributes and competencies of students as knowledge builders, and the teachers’ own KB practice as they observed student’s participation and contribution in the KB Design Studio. The teachers were very surprised, right from the start, with the questions raised by their students to the experts. They commented that was something they did not expect from the students and had reflected on what they had learnt based on their observations during the KB Design Studio that can be implemented back in their classroom.
The teachers also shared their use of KB in their classrooms across a wide range of subjects, including Social Studies, Geography and History. Furthermore, they built on each other’s posts to share suggestions and ideas to facilitate and develop a KB culture back in their own schools and, as a by-product, enhance their existing KB practice as well.
Overall, the students and teachers all greatly enjoyed this year’s KB Design Studio. They provided encouraging and highly positive responses about their experiences of the sharing from their fellow peers and experts. The students also reflected on their experiences interacting with others from different schools and ages, and on working through disagreements and diverse ideas to improve each other’s ideas. Both teachers and students felt that they benefitted greatly during this year’s KB Design Studio event.
“My group was really fun and we worked well together as we constantly tried to improve each other’s ideas.” – Student
“I cannot imagine how much work you guys put in – this is what schools need now.” – Teacher
One of the students even started expanding this year’s theme for next year’s KB Design Studio; he titled it “Save Earth, Wear Passion,” and provided concrete ideas about the flow that he hoped to see at the next KB Design Studio. The pervasiveness of students’ inquiry and interest, extending past their experience with this year’s event, shows how the KB Design Studio is not just a one-off event but rather the start of a deeper inquiry for both students and teachers alike!
In my opinion, there are two especially attractive peculiarities of the pedagogy of KB within its pedagogical principles (Scardamalia, 2002). One of them is the continuous search for the improvement of ideas. The second is the effort of all agents to increase cognitive collective responsibility. This pedagogy is interested in generating a knowledge product that is distributed equitably (to the greatest extent possible) among all members and not just a few. In the sense that all students, and not only those with the most facilities, build and master knowledge, this pedagogy represents a boost for the educational quality in any educational level compared to many others in the Spanish context.
Although the Knowledge Building was developed at the end of the last century (e.g. Scardamalia & Bereiter, 1994, 2006; Bereiter, 2002), in the Spanish context it can be considered an innovative pedagogy of a more sociocoinstructivist nature than the majority of approaches that are usually carried out in my educational system. Because of its novelty, its implementation requires certain qualities. When students are new to KB pedagogy, a successful implementation requires a plan for students to understand and assume responsibility (e.g. Zhang, et al. 2009). In particular, this is true in my educational context (see Gutiérrez-Braojos, Montejo, Ma, Chen, Scardamalia, & Bereiter, 2019). In this particular text, I will explain how I implement the Knowledge Building in my classes. This could give insights to others who work in contexts similar to the one I will explain later. I would also suggest and would greatly appreciate if each reader could send me feedback or suggestions for improving the implementation and evaluation of KB in my classes. To do this, there are a couple of links at the end of the text. Each one directs you to a short questionnaire where you can send feedback.
Context and configuration of the subject
The subject I teach deals with the participatory action research which is taught in the second year of the Social Education degree at the University of Granada. This subject consists of approximately 60 students and lasts 16 weeks. Students attend three hours of class each week. All students share two hours of classes one day a week. These students are divided into 3 broad groups that usually share an hour of weekly work in seminars. In my subject I consider that each one of these seminars forms a “working community”, and therefore, they share an area to build knowledge in the Knowledge Forum platform. In turn, to facilitate the work organized during the seminars, the students of the seminars organize small work teams composed of approximately 4-6 students. This makes it easier for students to coordinate working hours outside of classroom hours.
Sequence for the construction of Knowledge
Taking advantage of my stays with the IKIT group of the University of Toronto, and my experiences applying the Knowledge Building pedagogy in the context of higher education at the University of Granada, Spain KBP, I have developed a sequence to guide students in the construction of knowledge (figure 1). This refers to a spiral process that focuses on improving ideas and the community, as well as the ability to distribute responsibility within the collective and help them work with ideas. For this, the sequence emphasizes the role of reflexive collective evaluation as the engine of the shared construction of knowledge in the community (Gutiérrez-Braojos, unpublished, 2019; Gutierrez-Braojos, Rodriguez-Chirino & Fernández-Cano, in press).
Figure 1. Note: Figure elaborated by Gutiérrez-Braojos, C. & Gómez-Vaello, J. Figure is based on Gutiérrez-Braojos, (2019), and Gutiérrez-Braojos et al., (in press)
Step 0. Previous actions in contexts where students are novice.
Before starting with the main subject, students receive two or three introductory sessions about the pedagogical principles of the Knowledge Building and management of the Knowledge Forum. These sessions insist on the importance of staying committed to the constructive discourse and improving collective ideas. Students are taught that it is not exclusively about individually learning a content, but about building a knowledge that everyone shares. Therefore, they are told that it is important that they not only think of themselves, but of the knowledge needs of their peers and the collective. This will increase the chances for everyone to learn, and participate in the construction of knowledge, not only the students which are initially considered more capable. This is important in my context since students usually have a very individual and reproductive conception, which is characterized by a way of thinking based on beliefs. In my experience, I noticed that this pedagogy counteracts these individual practices, and encourages them to think and experience other modes of collective knowledge work practices. In my opinion, it is a pedagogy where educational praxis acquires more social value by constructing an education that values the collective as much as the particular needs of each of the students, promoting that no one is left off-hook, and that no one delegates the cognitive load on their peers.
Step 1. Introduction to a problem
The sequence to facilitate knowledge construction begins with the introduction to a problem, i.e., when the teacher invites the class group to build knowledge on a subject, topic or unit of work. The teacher encourages (and / or helps) the class group to ask one or several open and general questions about the subject. These questions offer the opportunity to understand the initial knowledge, set goals and indicators of achievement in the construction of a knowledge shared by all, as well as spark interest and define the commitment of knowledge construction. In my experience, three interdependent general goals tend to coexist in this specific subject: i) build a body of knowledge that explains participatory action research; ii) carry out the first phase of an action investigation: the initial evaluation of the context and needs (due to the duration of the subject, i.e., 16 weeks); iii) prepare a report on the study they have carried out.
In this text I focus on the first goal and I explain how the didactic sequence is carried out to facilitate the achievement of the first goal for students. At the same time, the students carry out the second goal, and as we reach the end of the subject, they begin to work towards achieving the third goal.
Step 2. Research actions
The next step guides students towards collaborative and individual researching actions regarding the material needed to achieve these goals. This research helps the students build, share and improve a representation of the relevant knowledge in the subject. These work activities or tasks happen in three modalities: face-to-face, non-face-to-face, and online work.
In the classroom, the teacher divides the 2 hour class into two parts with a different purpose for each.
The first part has a duration of approximately 45 minutes and its purpose is to advance on the legitimate knowledge in the field of AI, ie, the knowledge that has given rise to AI as we understand it today, and thus respecting the agenda established in the guide of the subject that was approved at the University of Granada. Although in my university these classes are usually understood by students as master classes, in our session the teacher or some student shares their AI knowledge, leaving the door open to discussions on the subject. These discussions can be directed by either the teacher or a student with some help from the teacher. This is justified since they will be social educators in the future, and these practices help them to develop their skills.
The second part has a duration of 1 hour and 15 minutes and is aimed at facilitating opportunities to work with ideas and achieve pre-established goals. Small work groups face collaborative and participatory tasks that make it easier for them to access, understand and discuss knowledge about the subject matter obtained from legitimate sources (resources of what is discussed in class that are hosted in the Knowledge Forum). These collaborative tasks are open to variations coming from the students as long as they justifiably adapt to their needs. For example, in the case of participatory action research, students face a practical case in which the challenge is to build a resource to facilitate learning in an agile way for future practitioners without knowledge or experience of AI, with the purpose of participating in the improvement process.
During the two-hour sessions, small groups have total freedom to communicate and form teams with the other classmates with whom they share the same seminar. Although the organization and monitoring functions of the community tend to occur mainly during the seminar time depending on the needs of each particular community (a community in this subject refers to students who share a seminar and collaborate closely with the construction of knowledge to achieve the pre-established goals).
In addition to this research phase, students must work offline and online in non-presential hours to reach the agreed goals. To facilitate collaborative work, the student members of each community have an open virtual space available in the Knowledge Forum, which they can use to discus ideas, issues, and achievements. The online discussion should be constructive in the sense that it should help answer the initial questions of collective or individual knowledge, or go further by discovering new questions or emerging ideas. As the discourse progresses on the KF platform, the students select the contributions they consider may be helpful so that the community subsequently builds a contribution of advanced synthesis or rise above, justifying the value of those ideas. For this they use the tool promising ideas available in the KF. Normally the categories that students agree to select and classify these ideas are: i) new idea; ii) full and clear explanation; iii) useful artifact; iv) interesting reading.
Part 3. Rise Above
The third step involves building an advanced synthesis (rise above). In this phase, the students organize themselves in their communities during the seminar time in order to organize the ideas they had selected which had value for the community, and elaborate an advanced synthesis. Thus, this synthesis should be based on ideas with value for the community collected during the previous step and be justified in terms of their impact and value in the community. In other words, I teach my students that advanced synthesis must be based on previous elements that are ideas with value for the community.
Step 4. Collective reflexive evaluation
The fourth step involves a reflexive evaluation. Students organize themselves in the large work group to carry out a reflexive evaluation of the synthesis developed in the previous phase. This implies several reflections: i) assess the quality of the ideas provided in terms of their relevance to the community (for example, students may question whether advanced ideas are sufficient to build knowledge about the unit of work, or if many of the ideas involved repeat information), ii) determining whether there are unresolved doubts or insufficiently developed ideas, and identifying possible new emerging ideas, iii) Assessment of the collective’s commitment to the construction of ideas, iv) assessment of teacher support. The broad group shares its assessments and possible improvements in the knowledge creation process carried out. Here, the teacher or an external expert has the opportunity to contribute by offering feedback on the work through an assessment rubric.
Step 5. Individual reflexive evaluation
At the end of the fourth phase, it could be interesting to invite student to reflect personally on: i) their commitment and real contribution to the advancement of the community; ii) ideas that the community (their peers) have contributed. This reflection can be elaborated in the individual virtual space offered by the Knowledge Forum platform. Although, the latter depends on the workload of the students. In my context it is important that students do not perceive an overload of work to maintain the commitment to the construction of knowledge, and provide high quality ideas. The work in my subject, together with that of others, entails many hours of face-to-face and non-face-to-face work. Therefore, in my case I usually only recommend it, but I insist more on the importance of the quality of the collective product, and therefore the reflexive collective evaluation.
Step 6. Emerging goals
The previous step closes a cycle. Students would then begin an emerging cycle, which can lead to resolving emerging issues with a higher level of abstraction, new questions, or responding to ideas that were insufficiently resolved. This is why the sequence is a spiral process that, likewise, is consistent with the procedure of the subject matter that works, i.e., AI.
At this time, we are working on the effects of this sequence. We have carry out two studies in higher education (subject: Action Research in Social Education). One of them (n=55 students) results indicates that students perceive that use this sequence generates greater confidence in the development of knowledge and greater levels of regulation shared among the members (Gutiérrez-Braojos, Chirino, & Fernandez-Cano, in press, Routledge).
In another study with this sequence we find that students perceive that with this sequence it generates greater confidence in the development of knowledge and perceives a greater degree of regulation shared among the members.
One of the tests was a surprise exam on the content of the subject worked to know the acquisition of knowledge. The results are promising. Only one student failed the exam (n ≈ 150 students). I only got these results on this occasion during my teaching experience. Other years the results are a greater number of students who fail in the knowledge acquisition test. We In any case, we are currently conducting additional analyzes focusing on the knowledge building and CCR, and not so much in the individual acquisition of knowledge In any case, these results show that a pedagogy aimed at the collective construction of knowledge does not prevent individual learning, but quite the opposite.
Feedback through questionnaires.
Thank you for reading A sequence for the construction of knowledge. Below are two links. I would greatly appreciate if you could take some time on either or both questionnaires. This will allow me to have feedback from which to reflect and make improvements in the implementation of KB.
In the second link, you are invited to answer another questionnaire, which is intended towards identifying quality indicators of an evaluation software that facilitates the reflective evaluation of students within the implementation of the explained KB sequence. We would be very grateful if you could answer it. If you need more information you can find it in this link: https://forms.gle/bUzTq8HEfVhNZqms7
Written By Dr. Ying-Tien Wu, Graduate Institute of Network Learning Technology, National Central University, Taiwan.
Taiwan Association of Educational Communication and Technology (TAECT) is one of the most influential associations in the learning technology field in Taiwan. In this year, Prof. Marlene Scardamalia was invited as a keynote speaker at the annual conference of TAECT (TAECT 2019) held from November 15thto 16thin Taiwan. In her talk, Prof. Scardamalia shared the recent advancement in knowledge building research. To share Knowledge Building practice with the teachers in Taiwan, a two-hour Knowledge Building workshop session was scheduled after Prof. Scardamalia’s talk session in TAECT 2019. Prof. Ying-Tien Wu was invited to organize and host this workshop (entitled as “Workshop on Knowledge Building Activity Design and Practice”).
Based on Prof. Wu teaching experience from his several KB-based undergraduate and graduate courses, this workshop was designed as a participatory workshop. There are three core activities in this workshop session: experiencing KB activity, knowledge integration activity, and reflection activity. As shown in the figure below, basically, the workshop consists of two rounds of experiencing-knowledge integration-reflection activity cycle. In the experiencing-knowledge integration-reflection activity cycle, the participant teachers were invited to experience Knowledge Building activities first. Then, some core ideas in Knowledge Building Theory, including idea, improvable idea, and community, was introduced and discussed in the knowledge integration activity. After that, in the reflection activity, the participants reflected on their learning experiences to build up their shared understanding of Knowledge building Theory, practice, and activity design.
This is one of the initial attempts to organize a Knowledge Building workshop in a conference in Taiwan. The participant teachers expressed positive feedbacks on this workshop. Some of the participant teachers also expressed their interest in attending other Knowledge Building workshop. Hope this workshop could inspire the participant teachers to design and implement Knowledge Building activities in their classrooms. Also, we look forward to connecting more teachers from Taiwan to our global Knowledge Building community.
If you need further information or have any question regarding this workshop, please feel free to contact with Dr. Ying-Tien Wu (firstname.lastname@example.org).
An Interview with Frank de Jong | by Toske Andreoli
Read the original interview here: https://www.scienceguide.nl/2019/11/kritisch-leren-denken-is-niet-genoeg/
November 13, 2019 | If it is up to learning psychologist Frank de Jong (Aeres University of Applied Sciences / Open University), everyone in education would learn ‘ecological thinking’. Currently, education does not prepare students to meet current challenges. “Critical thinking is not enough.”
Professor and professor Frank de Jong argues for ecological thinking. “I take a much broader ecological view than just nature,” De Jong explains. “Ecology is of course also our multicultural society. It is about the diversity that we are dealing with. Ecology is the total living environment. ” But the ecological crisis – in the narrow sense of the word – does show what the problem is, De Jong believes: a crisis in our education.
“When the student strikes started this spring, Ministers Slob and Wiebes responded with: ‘They should do that in their free time, ‘ and ‘the best climate contribution is just going to school.’ Social commitment is not separate from school, and at school the children do not learn the thinking skills needed to solve the climate crisis.”
The connection between the climate crisis and education is clear to De Jong. “Education has a dire impact on the development of our thinking. And mostly single facts are taught. You learn to think in “if-then” reasoning. “As a result, people lose sight of cohesion and the whole. It is important to learn to think in relationships, that things are interrelated. If you do something on the left, something happens on the right, and maybe upstairs too. This requires more multidisciplinary thinking. You learn in education no further than your nose is long to look. This is a solution for this, but what does that mean for well-being, prosperity, and is it in the interest of nature? ”
What does the nitrogen crisis mean for education?
In the meantime, politics has been shaken awake, De Jong sees. “The nitrogen crisis and the Remkes report have caused a lot of social upheaval.” But he doubts whether this will also lead to a change in education. “If you look at Italy, sustainability starts to come into the curriculum there. It is also in our new curriculum, but it does not say what it means. Does it mean that high school students have to memorize UN climate goals 2030? ”
That is precisely according to the old didactics, De Jong believes. “Responsive learning” is needed, and that requires “knowledge-constructing didactics”. Two concepts that he will address in his inaugural lecture, and which he has already applied to the Masters in Learning and Innovation at Aeres Hogeschool Wageningen. “Responsive learning is based on the challenges that arise in practice. The goal is not only that it makes you wiser, but also your environment. That means that you are dealing with real things that matter, but also that students are working on their own ideas and theories.”
But that doesn’t immediately mean laissez faire: “Of course you go to a course to become a baker or teacher, for example. But within that context, as a student or teacher, you do have your own motives and interests that you want to develop because they matter to you. Then you get a completely different education than when it is centered solely on content. Nowadays, pupils and students mainly pound knowledge and facts in their heads and reproduce that on a test.”
For years, there has been a debate on whether education should focus more on knowledge or on skills, with educational psychologist Paul Kirschner as the best-known representative of sound against the rise of 21st century skills. De Jong is clearly on the skills side. His knowledge-constructing didactics, he says, goes against the old cognitive and learning psychological science that says that information must be cut into pieces and that knowledge is created in your head. Knowledge arises in the interaction with the world and others around you. “That’s why you don’t have to simplify everything into bite-sized chunks. You can just keep the complexity intact. It is important that you give people the thinking tools to deal with complexity. That way they learn to make good analyzes, make good observations and make connections between things. ”
You often hear a plea for critical thinking. “But what is that? If you say it very flatly, it comes down to an evaluation of whether something is true or not, whether something is crooked or straight.” If you want to train a generation that can work on complex issues, that is not enough, De Jong thinks. “You only learn to be constructive with critical thinking. Being able to think critically becomes more valuable if you can also think design-oriented, because then you come to a solution, an answer to the question you had. It is even better if you can also argue why your solution or product is better for the future, nature, society. ”
An important part of this is learning how to conduct a dialogue. “There are many debate groups, but just make sure that people can have a conversation with each other. A discussion is a form of struggle. But having a conversation in which you help each other to progress is more constructive. How often are meetings good conversations? We are not well trained in that, but it is really a skill that you can teach people. ”De Jong uses tools to teach students how to hold conversations. “Then I turn a conversation into a WordCloud for example. You have that within a second, and you immediately see: oh, are we talking about this?”
The appointment as special professor at the Open University is for one day a week. “I hope that with my chair I can generate more attention for responsive learning. It is not only useful for education, but in all situations where co-creation takes place, where it is necessary for people to cross borders to work together on problems or new products. I want to publish as much as possible about this in the years that I am at the Open University. “
Frank de Jong delivered his inaugural lecture at the Open University in Heerlen on Friday 15 November at 4 pm.
In April 2019, the Institute for Knowledge Innovation and Technology and the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study co-hosted the Toronto-based events for the 2019 Knowledge Building Summer Institute (KBSI).
Teachers, students and school administrators from all over Southern Ontario came to share their work with the international KB community. Below, we’ve put together their posters and papers – a treasure trove of KB resources engaging subjects across K-12.
By: Karen Steffensen, Student Achievement Officer, Ontario Ministry of Education.
In 2012, as part of my graduate thesis, a framework for leadership came about as a result of a narrative inquiry I was embarking upon — exploring the spaces within organizations where innovation and creativity can flourish. At that time, it was my hope that through this inquiry I would uncover key factors that contribute to greater agency, supporting the emergence of innovative practices that improve the quality of outcome for those at the receiving end of an intended innovation.
In a research interview with my dear friend and mentor–Tsimshian artist, Elder and Hereditary Chief Roy Henry Vickers– the Four Directions of Leadership emerged as a way of grounding possible ways forward. The graphic shown below, frames these four directions. Through the way of Teacher, Healer, Visionary, Warrior/Leader, we move through challenge with the knowledge necessary to arrive at a new place of being.
During this past academic school year (2018 – 2019), I have been contemplating the intersection between the Four Directions of Leadership and specific KB principles, in particular,Epistemic Agency, Democratizing Knowledge, Improvable Ideas, Rise Above, and Community Knowledge and Collective Responsibility. I am wondering how understanding this intersection might further support leaders navigate complex change, particularly in turbulent, rapidly changing times. How might KB principles underpin and further inform our collaborations as we journey forward?
Which KB principles are embodied by leaders (both formal and informal) as they navigate complexity and change, innovating the systems and institutions for whom they serve? In what ways do these principles leverage successful change?
I believe that Idea Diversity & Democratizing Knowledge connects with the way of the Teacher, as they each embody
○ being open to new possibilities and potential, constructing new paths to explore;
○ taking risks, learning from mistakes and failures;
○ expanding understanding through co-construction of learning with a knowledgeable other.
I see Epistemic Agency as having connections to the way of the Healer. These principles and ways of being involve nurturing, caring, guiding, supporting, and ultimately, moving out of a space of hurt, anguish, challenge or despair into a space of renewal. Epistemic Agency and the way of the Healer offer hope because of new beginnings and connections that arise from the deep learning in the process of healing. The relationships fostered by these leadership directions (Epistemic Agency and the way of the Healer), enable us to grow as we work together for a common purpose, which gives rise to voice and contribution, moving us forward into the new spaces of possibility.
Improvable Ideas and Rise Above, connect to the way of the Visionary, allowing us to get beyond “what is” (from a current state) and move into “what could or can be” (a future state); enabling us to see beyond what is, to be open to possibilities and to intuition, and to embrace wide-awakeness as we strive to move forward. Improvable Ideas, Rise Above and the way of the Visionary, embody the creative process, ignited by inspiration or challenge and result in the emergence of something quite innovative or possibly new. As Roy Henry Vickers describes, the way of the Visionary uses our ability to see without our physical eyes, to be aware of the images that come to mind every day “because we human beings have been given this incredible ability to have vision that is beyond our eyes”. This, for me, is the ability to Rise Above, seeing and seeking the new possibilities not yet seen.
Community Knowledge and Collective Responsibility connects with the way of the Warrior/Leader as these require
○ walking in truth and wisdom of our ancestors; being grounded in knowledge from those who have come before us;
○ not being afraid to take a stand or seek the changes necessary to move beyond a current reality;
○ leading forward in possibility (imagination), joined by action;
○ embodying a form of leadership that ignites the passion in oneself and in others.
I see strong connections and intersectionality between KB principles and the Four Directions of Leadership. I wonder how this understanding might offer to further support and deepen our work as leaders– beyond a pedagogical approach that resides solely in classrooms with students, particularly if we consider how might KB provide strength of purpose, as a way of being when embodied in one’s leadership for and with others?
When we understand and navigate through layers of emotion, we are afforded the opportunity to enter into the “spaces of possibility” (as Maxine Green might say), enabling our ability to Rise Above, co-exploring ideas and seeing every idea as being improvable. By growing connections to KB principles within leadership practices, it is my belief these connections will give rise to meaningful innovations and ideas that truly uplift us through complex changes and challenges that are unfolding in and across today’s educational landscapes.
-Listen to a short (4 min) excerpt from Karen’s interview with Roy Henry Vickers, where Roy shares important perspectives around student engagement, success and learning, and ways we can ignite and inspire learning and teaching: https://videopress.com/v/QN6JEEk0
-You can also read more on the Four Directions of Leadership in Karen’s graduate thesis
-For more information on Roy Henry Vickers and his art, visit https://royhenryvickers.com/pages/artist-biography
This series of videos feature Bijan Nagji’s Grade 6 students in a KB Circle discussion. They are talking about the story of Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, a teenager from Saudi Arabia who fled her family and was welcomed into Canada as a refugee.
Bijan Nagji, Gr. 6 teacher, Halton District School Board (HDSB)
I was introduced to Knowledge Building in the middle of the 2017 school year. One of my V.P’s came into our room and had the courage to introduce me to a document. Being open minded, I glanced at it and said “sure”, I’ll take a look. I put in on my teacher desk. It stayed there.
Later in the school year, I’d heard that the Halton District School Board in Ontario Canada, where I have been a teacher for these past 19 years (that can’t be right, can it?) announced that there was some grant money available from the Ministry of Education. The idea of potentially getting some money and trying something new, something different sounded good to me! They were looking for proposals around how to teach the New Global Competencies. Knowing that there had been discussion that they were going to replace our Learning Skills in our Provincial Report Cards, I figured, hey, why not apply? So, a group of us got together and wrote up what sounded pretty impressive (to me, anyway) proposal. Thanks Emily Horner! We wanted to use the funding to see if we can teach junior students skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship.
Little did I know that it would take me into perhaps one of the best and most gratifying professional endeavors to this day. Using The Knowledge Building pedagogy was a part of that proposal. We got short- listed for the money and then approved! Sometimes as educators it’s easy to stay the course and do what we do. Risk taking and stepping outside our own comfort zone is not natural at times. It can be challenging and even difficult. But, that’s not me! I went back to that document and started reading it. I was intrigued and remember wondering why I hadn’t seen this yet in all my years of teaching? So we took some of its theories, principles and ideologies and attempted to apply them into our classroom. We started slowly and looked at big ideas and concepts across all curricular areas and incorporated Knowledge Building within them. Knowledge Building scaffolds were introduced and we jumped right into using KB circles. Students were first introduced to a few basic scaffolds which soon enough, they seemed to have mastered! So we increased the scaffolds we were using, changed a few and even created some of our own. It soon occurred to me that our grade 5 students were engaged, respectful and actually sounded like empowered students and learners having a respectful conversation. In short, they sounded like adults! Reflecting on this, I think that may have been my aha moment!
With part of the money received we decided to bring in some experts to our school and dig deeper into how we could use Knowledge Building to teach some of the Global competencies.
That’s when I was introduced to the Knowledge Forum! It seemed so complex at first, and a bit intimidating too! But, I gave it a go. What an exciting tool I thought!
We continued to take risks, play, fail and eventually learn! Oh yes, there were lots of failures along the way. Really, the kids figured out things quicker than me! Even at age 10, they are so tech savvy and intuitive.
I was particularly fascinated by the analytics tool in the Knowledge Forum platform. We continued playing and exploring with the students and realized that there was invaluable data that it gave us! I liked that it allowed the silent, reserved type students (we all have them) to have a voice! Not only that, but students and teachers had data about peer to peer collaboration.
Students were looking at their collaboration as a community and we then realized that the collaboration for some was focussed primarily with only a certain subset in our community. Yes, we found out that some of us were only collaborating with our friends! This opened the door for great discussion and discourse in our room about what collaboration looked like in the real world. Slowly, we started noticing a change and more authentic interactions with others. Success I thought! But wait, if the goal is idea improvement, we still had a long way to go! Another emerging trend came to the forefront. Students seemed to be really good at creating and stating their own theories. But, not as good at building on the ideas of others or putting ideas together.
So, our journey continues! We use Knowledge Building circles regularly in our class across all curricular areas. Here, students are having a great discussion in math. They are “democratizing knowledge” together in our T.O.G.A table (Table of Great Achievement) a phrase coined by Suzana Milinovich and her class. Suzana was one of the brilliant educators with the Hamilton Wentworth School Board who had come into our school to help us dive deeper into Knowledge Building and how we can be used to teach the Global Competencies.
Students are trying to convince each other which theory is correct and building on the ideas of others
Toward the end of the school year I was lucky enough to be asked to present the work our class was doing at KBSI 2018 Summer Institute. What a great few days! For me it was about learning about all the fascinating work others were doing! If you are an educator, administrator, a policy maker, I have this to say, give this a go. Try. Fail. Learn. Try again! I have no doubt that in the end the winners will be our future generation!