I was impressed from the very moment I read about Knowledge Building in the Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences (Sawyer, 2006, pp. 97 – 115). As a science teacher, I see the enormous potential of this learning philosophy, and cannot wait to apply it to my existing teaching repertoire. In order to implement the principles of Knowledge Building, I must understand it fully and understand how to apply it. To this end, I am writing this thought paper with two articles on Knowledge Building as a backdrop. The first is “Learning to Work Creatively With Knowledge” by Carl Bereiter and Marlene Scardamalia (2003) and the second is “Student-Directed Assessment of Knowledge Building Using Electronic Portfolios” by Jan van Aalst and Carol K. K. Chan (2007). The first article serves as the theory portion of my understanding of Knowledge Building. The second article provides an example of Knowledge Building in practice and presents a possible way of implementing the innovative learning environment as well as assessing students in the collaborative Knowledge Building setting.
I see teaching science as having two different sides. The first side is teaching the basics, the processes, the structures of a lab report, the ways of solving a physics problem, the organization. Let’s call this the “alphabet” of the scientist. Without this, the students could not achieve any kind of success in the sciences. It is a way of communication in the scientific world, the building blocks of science. In the same way that a child cannot read a beautiful story without knowing the alphabet first, the scientist cannot see or understand the complex design of car without first understanding the mechanisms of the simple machines or the fuel combustion effects, or even the knowledge of the basic elements or simple kinematics. I would say that traditional teaching focuses on these basic skills. Teaching only these kinds of skills is equivalent to presenting knowledge in what Bereiter and Scardamalia (2003) call belief mode.Continue reading “Teaching science – how to teach innovation?”