A post from Bob Jackson...Collaborative Inquiry in Ontario

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David asks the question if knowledge building just the latest fad. From early understanding of this concept I see it as a next step to the Collaborative Inquiry (C-I) process occurring in schools in Ontario, Canada. It is not an extension of the C-I process but a next step that can be embedded in the process.

I had the opportunity to hear Marlene Scardamalia speak and she made the point the at one time, the purpose of schools was to pass along culture, instill values, impart knowledge and develop skills to graduate an educated workforce. A major change has occurred and now schools are being charged with the task of developing creativity and innovation and much of this through collaboration. Gone are the sitting rows, the memorization, the rote learning and regurgitation. The world has changed and creativity and innovation are required skills that need to be fostered by today’s teachers – systemic change is needed to accomplish this task. Knowledge building is a way that schools can accomplish this.

Scardamalia says with Knowledge Building, school work is no longer isolated from the real world and students take on an increased level of responsibility for their learning. There is deeper learning in all subjects from physics to physical education. She has published 12 Principles of Knowledge Building and these have been attached.

In early postings, David was talking about the value of Professional Learning Communities. Research has shown that largely they are not as effective at improving student achievement as first thought; however, some are greatly effective. Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) have come to take many forms and variations and hence a variation of effectiveness. We know that the most effective PLC’s have commonalities. They look at data, examine student work, engage in professional dialogue around assessment and pedagogy. There also needs to be a large element of mutual trust and respect amongst its members. A question to ponder is how effective would PLC’s be if they followed the 12 principles.

A new publication in Ontario, called Inquiry Based Learning is utilizing some of the work of Scardamalia and indeed makes reference to her research. The resource can be accessed online at the following link: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/inspire/research/CBS_InquiryBased.pdf In a future post, I will provide examples from Scardamalia’s presentation as to how this looks in the classroom.

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