Successful pedagogies for inquiry and knowledge building


How do teachers build knowledge about KB

What you will find on this page:

The history and development of Knowledge Building Teacher Network (KBTN)

Since 2001, the Centre for Information Technology in Education (CITE) of the University of Hong Kong and Faculty of Education has led a number of projects to introduce the knowledge-building approach and the associated technology to schools with funding from a variety of sources. The cumulative efforts over the years have resulted in rich online resources for use by teachers and students. Over time, we have developed a group of dedicated teachers from a number of secondary and primary schools who are experienced in implementing knowledge building in different subject areas and willing to form a knowledge building professional community to mentor other teachers interested in this approach. In 2006, the Education Bureau provided funding support to CITE to provide consultancy and technical support through a team of seconded teachers.

In the early years, the emphasis of university-school support is to have university mentors working directly with schools and teachers. However, since the Knowledge Building Teacher Network was established in 2006, the model changed. KBTN adopted an approach of empowering teachers through having university mentors supporting teacher mentors (seconded teachers) to mentor teachers in own and other schools. The teacher network was further extended and involved different kinds of experienced teachers (seconded teachers and teacher associates) working with university mentors in mentoring and implementing knowledge building. A gradual growth among network teachers was observed, though at different paces. Using the train-the-trainer model, successful mentees took up the roles of supporting teachers in their own schools or to become mentors themselves for sustained and generative growth in the knowledge-building teacher network.

The teacher professional development activities included:

  • Regular university-based seconded teacher meetings
  • Knowledge building teacher workshops
  • Classroom practices
  • Mentoring support and School visits
  • Expert support from teacher associates
  • Public dissemination and Learning Celebration
  • Teacher reflection and collaboration via Knowledge Forum

(Edited 10 min version – Cantonese without subtitles)

(Complete 18 min version – Cantonese with English subtitles)

Growth of the teacher network

Ms Fung shared her experience in implementing knowledge building and commented on the development of the teacher network. She also provided some advice for new KB teachers. Ms Fung first explained that the support and cooperation from the school on various levels will largely facilitate teachers’ KB work.

When first introduce KB, teachers should start with class, then extend to year level. Similar to collaboration between students, teachers can collaborate with other teachers. Teachers can discuss and complement with each other. Through discussion, reflection and listening to others’ suggestions, teachers continue to grow in their understanding of KB.

Network teacher experience sharing

How mentee teacher experienced growth through the support from a mentor teacher

Mentee teacher L:
My mentor has done a great job. She guided me step by step and she also knew the type of support that I needed at different stages. For instance, she knew that I needed to prepare students’ holiday homework, so she recommended me to come up with a theme and ask students to practice writing during the holidays. She worked really hard; she sometimes gave me calls at night. She was already very busy as a teacher herself, but she still found time to discuss different issues with me. We would talk about what the theme is, what kind of story it is, which story is better, which story can stimulate more discussion, etc. She is experienced in knowledge building and she has given me a lot of constructive suggestions. Now, we can see a natural growth in the students, particularly growth in vocabulary. She also helped with assessment at appropriate times. I really appreciate her help.

How mentor teacher experienced growth through mentoring other teachers, support from university mentors and regular seconded teacher meetings

Mentor teacher A:
I am most impressed with how Ms L built up the sense of knowledge building. Initially, she was resistant to the approach and understanding takes time and tolerance. What appears in the discussion database can act a proof to the teacher that it is achievable. I remember that Ms L was in doubt throughout the process. She commented that I am not an English teacher and not teaching in a primary school. I could only try my best to explain that I was not trying to teach her how to do it, but we would be doing it together. Actually, I feel good about it. I have learned and grown in this experience. She is an experienced teacher and very knowledgeable, therefore she would ask why this is so and why not this way. Those questions made me think hard because I needed to explain to her. School visit is another challenge for me, but I only think when I come across challenges. Also, I have mentioned that I spent a lot of time writing reports because I tried to think thoroughly. I feel that I have grown in the process. On the other hand, I need to be responsible to my school, so my colleagues should also be able to benefit from my secondment. I think I have achieved that. In the seconded teacher meetings, teachers shared experience and scholars shared their ideas, which facilitated our personal development.

How a mentor teacher can disseminate KB in her own school given time from secondment and improved understanding of KB

Mentor teacher F:
I feel proud because we implement knowledge building every year and attract a lot of teachers to join us. From the first year, we only had two teachers using the approach, but today, we have basically eight to night teachers who had attempted knowledge building. I think knowledge building is a good starting point for school development. In the past year, I have become much more familiar with the Knowledge Forum and have a clearer understanding of knowledge building. My understanding of knowledge building used to be fragmented. I feel that I have improved a lot this year. Apart from being more familiar with the online platform, I have improved in terms of the design and how to utilize the statistics in assessment. Also, the secondment allowed me to have more time to support my colleagues and teachers from other schools, which I was not able to do. I would say that this year was pretty successful and I am satisfied. Moreover, I was able to follow up with my colleagues throughout the whole process. In the past, I was only able to tell them what to do, and occasionally ask them to update me with the progress. I did not have time for lesson observations, nor preparation. This year is a turning point for our subject. We used to do it because it was meaningful, but never thought about the details. Now, I think we are considering putting something together as a guide for new teachers and hope that they will have a basic idea of what to do from the guide.

Knowledge building international collaboration activities

Since 2004, local knowledge building teachers and students began to participate in international collaboration activities. Teachers and students interact and collaborate with their counterparts through Knowledge Forum and video conferences. They also attend the annual international knowledge building event (Summer Institute), which is held during the summer holidays, to meet with their collaborators and given the opportunity to knowledge build collaboratively again.

Mr Lam is experienced in international collaboration. He has collaborated with teachers from Canada, Spain, England and Mexico. In the third year of international collaboration work, he allowed his students to conduct individual inquiry, then his students shared their ideas and data with their collaborators in a video conference. Afterwards, his students and the collaborators began discussion on Knowledge Forum to collaborate and innovate.

Students and teachers all learn and benefit from international collaboration activities. Professor Nancy Law, Director of CITE, expressed that the local network has benefited a lot from associations with teachers and students from around the globe. It is important to develop a local network, without which it is impossible to prosper, but single networks do not have the same possibility to learn, build on and develop as much as interconnecting networks do. Members of the knowledge building international network have a common vision, but they are not constrained in what they want to do. Members innovate in terms of how they develop their local network and implement the KB approach into the curriculum, in which the local context has to be considered. Yet, these local networks are building interconnecting networks, which are networks of co-evolution. Eventually, transformation can be achieved through this process of co-evolution.