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!
The East Asian Graduate Student Symposium on the Learning Sciences (EAGLS) 2019 took place at Hong Kong University (HKU) on February 16th and 17th. The event was organised by Dr. Carol Chan and Dr. Jan van Aalst from the HKU Faculty of Education, in collaboration with colleagues from Shizuoka University (Japan) and Nanjing Normal University (Mainland China).
The EAGLS 2019 event was the second symposium of its kind, expanding from the successful Lab Exchange Programs between Shizuoka University and University of Hong Kong. Over 60 graduate students from the three participating universities attended to showcase their work.
The symposium provided opportunities for graduate students and junior researchers to present their research in the learning sciences for cross-exchange of ideas and collaboration. Senior academics from different universities in the region were invited to give plenary talks on learning, pedagogy and analytics. The senior researchers were also on hand to provide useful feedback and mentoring for graduate student participants.
To cater to the interests of graduate students, the program also included several invited talks on learning designs, classroom dialogue and teacher learning. Graduate students and participants also had the opportunity to use Knowledge Forum (KF6) to enrich the interaction and community building during the symposium.
The teacher team from Guilderland Elementary School (Albany, NY) delivered a workshop to share their Knowledge Building science program with teachers and school leaders in the Greater Capital Region of New York State. The workshop was hosted by the Teacher Center in Albany on February 7, 2019. The Guilderland teacher team (Patricia Gagnon, Stacey Kirk, and Beth Tangorre) has been collaborating with researchers from the University at Albany, SUNYsince 2013 to restructure their Grade 5 science program using a Knowledge Building approach with Knowledge Forum and Idea Thread Mapper (ITM). At this workshop, they shared their innovative work to approach the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) using Knowledge Building.
ITM integrated with KF6 offers support for students to co-structure their knowledge building work and further collaborate across classroom communities.
A Student-Led, Student-Driven Human Rights Conference
Students, teachers, parents, community members, district leaders, and administrators came together this past January 10th for a powerful day of learning, knowledge building and social action at the Change the Way 2019, Human Rights Conference.
Students from Dundas Valley Secondary School in Dundas Valley, Ontario, took charge of every aspect of the event — from coming up with the conference concept, selecting and inviting speakers, securing and prepping the venue, and everything in between. The program featured contributions and presentations from guest speakers, as well as elementary and secondary students across the school district, who showcased their work on innovating solutions and ways to advance the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development.
“I really liked how students started off the conference. When you go to school conferences or any school event teachers or someone else who isn’t a student will usually start off. The 11th grade students definitely were responsible and were ready to speak in a confident voice. Really shows how much students can do when you give them an opportunity.” – Gr. 7 student
The conference was also an amazing example of students bringing the international KB community together. Classrooms from Mexico, Singapore, Canada, and Spain all contributed their outstanding work to the conference. The international scope of the project stands as a wonderful extension of partnerships and classrooms collaborations already taking place between KB classrooms across the globe.
“It was very interesting to see all the different ages. We were the youngest, but we saw elders and teenagers talk about the UN Sustainable Goals. I would recommend [this conference] because it teaches stuff you would learn when you are older, so you can explore it now so you can learn it earlier.” – Grade 6 student
“It was interesting to see students of all different ages and their projects including their experiments and research on Human Rights initiatives. One class got water from Flint, Michigan and compared it to Toronto’s water. Another group of students recycled pop can tabs to make wheel chairs. One parent made sleeping mats and pillows from recycled milk bags. It was nice to see many young students get together to save the environment.” -Grade 6 student
“It was wonderful to witness and be a part of the Change the Way conference. Gathering many students and teachers (as well as community members) from various school boards provided an opportunity for students to share and build off of one another’s research and knowledge. From this new knowledge, students are now able to move forward in developing and creating solutions to world issues such as Climate Change and Human Rights.” – Darlene Martin, Junior Division Teacher
Christine Vanderwal’s Gr. 7 students have written blogs about their experiences and thoughts on the day, which you can read here, here, here, and here!
Grade 9 students from Sant Pau Apostòl school in Tarragona, Spain are part of the global community of Knowledge Building students who are working to tackle the UN Goals for Sustainable Development. This group of students came together and decided to focus their efforts on Goal 13: Climate Action.
Hear from Kacper and Marina as they introduce their work and classmates in the video below!
During the course of their KB work, students worked together to propose and advance their ideas and theories, consulted with experts in industry and academia, and built their ideas on a Knowledge Forum community that was open to collaborating teachers and classrooms all from over the world!
You can watch the evolution of the students’ KF community in this video, which captures the KF Timeline tool in action.
Their teacher, Dr. Pere Boluda, is an expert in educational technologies, and has been working with Knowledge Building since 2007. Dr. Boluda is part of a community of Catalan researchers exploring Knowledge Building processes and practices. He is also the Catalan coordinator of the Knowledge Building International Project (KBIP) in Catalonia, which brings together teachers from across the region every month to share practices and advance practice and pedagogy.
The powerpoint below describes the overarching goals and guidelines of the Climate Action project, which was developed as a flexible framework to support Knowledge Building work over time.
The presentation below describes the students’ online discourse, with examples of student created rise-aboves and Knowledge Forum assessment tool visuals.
The presentation below was delivered as a part of the KB Symposium: Analyze and Reflect with Technology that took place in Singapore this past November. It was created by KB teachers Lee Tey Ai Hoon and Michelle Djong and their wonderful students at Riverside Secondary School.
Check out all presentation abstracts from the symposium here
On October 27th, educators Lori Belford and Emily Horner from the Halton District School Board (HDSB) presented their amazing work with Knowledge Building and Knowledge Forum at the HDSB 3rd Annual Innovation and Technology Symposium.
Their presentation, Knowledge Building: Pedagogy Meets Technology, shares their journey with Knowledge Building in the classroom to create a more collaborative community of learners, driven by student voice. They also explore how Knowledge Forum can connect 21st century pedagogy and technology in the elementary classroom.
Thank you to Emily and Lori for sharing their presentation. Explore their wonderful work below!
In 2015 a hackthon/desing jam was organized at Aeres Applied University (UAS) Wageningen in the Netherlands (De Jong, Matszuzawa, Teplov, Bodong, Aalst, et al.; 2015). Some of the learning analytics in the current KF6 result from that week. Participants were enthusiastic and intended to do this over again in the future. The next activity was the symposium at CSCL (De Jong et al., 2017) It took me some years to find some sponsoring again, but I had a little success this year. So, in the last week of November (25-30) we are organizing a second Hackathon/jam design week. During KBSI2018 this week became part of a bigger process of upgrading the KF user interface, for which some activities will organized In Japan (March 2019), during AERA 2019 annual meeting in Toronto and of course throughout Knowledge Building 2019 meetings.
The Hackathon/design jam week in November 25-30, 2018 at Aeres UAS Wageningen in the Netherlands will focus on the one hand making the learning analytics more user friendly for teachers and students. On the other hand to ‘design-on’ and making some of analytics more semantic analytical. Participation will be face-to-face collaboration at Aeres UAS and virtual.
The weeks start on the Monday with input from teachers and students with their experiences and ideas for improvement and needs. End the end of the week results will be demonstrated to them. In between participants will work on the ideas, virtual meetings will be held for input, collaboration, feedback and feedforward from those who are interested to bring in their expertise and experiences.
At the moment the following participants will participate in Wageningen: Yoshiaki Matsuzawa (KBDex; KF-code, software engineering) School of Social Informatics, Aoyama Gakuin University, Japan; Prof. dr. Sylvie Ratté (Linguistic engineering Knowledge representation, Formal language ,Visual language, Ontology, Semantic interpretation of natural languages, Artificial intelligence)Laboratoire d’ingénierie Cognitive Sémantique, Ecole de technologie superieure (ETS), Montreal, University of Quebec, Canada; Erick Velazquez, Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering;natural language processing and data mining), Postdoc at University of Potsdam, Germany; Veronic Segarra Faggiono Ph.D-student Laboratoire d’ingénierie Cognitive Sémantique, Ecole de technologie superieure (ETS), Montreal, University of Quebec, Canada; Prof. dr. Therese Laferriere Sciences Education, Universite Laval, Quebec, Canada; Gabriel Demers Sciences Education, Universite Laval, Quebec, Canada; Simon Duguay
Sciences Education, Universite Laval, Quebec, Canada; Dr. Ole Smordal Head of EngageLab, Department of Education, University of Oslo, Norway; Richard Nesnass MSc. Developer, software engineering (implementation of Talkwall) at EngageLab, Department of Education, University of Oslo, Norway; Jan van Aalst, Associate Professor Faculty of Education, the University of Hong Kong. Teachers and students from AERES Wageningen and VET-schools. Rik van Steenbergen, AHW BA-student doing his BA-thesis on learning analytics.
On-line participation: Prof. dr. Carl Bereiter & prof. dr. Marlene Scardamalia OISE/University of Toronto, IKIT, Toronto, Canada; Fernando Díaz del Castillo H. Director de Innovación y Desarrollo Gimnasio La Montaña, Colombia; Bodong Chen Ph.D.Assistant Professor, Learning Technologies, College of Education and Human Development
University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, USA; Chris Teplov Ph.D. Lecturer & Research Scientist, School of Information, University of Michigan North Quad, USA.