Knowledge Building/The Knowledge Building teacher

What characterizes a Knowledge Building teacher?


Moderating the discourse

  • Moderator: (structuring or orchestrating the plenary discussions. Should the students ideally be doing this). Is the ultimate goal that the teacher can leave the classroom and students are still able to do great work?


  • GM: Well, there’[re] bricks, which are still opaque. But they’re not reflective. But I don’t know what they are called, like that kind of opaque. JL (2:20)
  • JL: I think all opaque materials are reflective, except not all of them reflect light back. … OK, let’s just say um like…a yellow carpet… your eyes would be able to see the yellow of it because it would only reflect yellow light. That means like that sort of like a tissue for example that would only reflect white, except the yellow carpet, since it’s like green mixed with red, I believe. Then the beam of red [and green] light would touch us and your eyes would take it in as yellow. (2:31)
  • Teacher: So you’re saying everything is reflective then. Every opaque object is reflective to some degree. Oh, I hear some people disagree. Can you pass it on? [JL: SG.] (3:58)
  • SG: What about wood? Wood isn’t reflective. JL. (4:07)
  • FJ: I think if wood is shiny and polished, you could see your reflection. I think it’s mostly just shiny objects so it depends on what kind of wood you have, what kind of table you have, if you see your reflection. SG. (4:53)
  • SG: Like if you had a glass table. (5:12)
  • Teacher: The question is: Are all opaque objects reflective? Have we answered that? … Do all opaque objects reflect light? Anyone has a theory or evidence to support that? So, SG, it’s yours to pass. [SG: DN.] (5:16)
  • DN: Um, actually all opaque objects do reflect light, because they reflect their own color. So we see them as whatever color they are. TS. [inaudible student talking] (5:35)
  • Teacher: Hold on, let’s hear him talk. (5:57)
  • TS: If they didn’t reflect their own color, you wouldn’t see a brick of red, or someone’s t-shirt as purple or whatever. RP. (5:59)
  • RP: What about black? (6:11)
  • Teacher: Don’t throw it back to him. Give your theory. (6:14)
  • RP: I don’t think black reflects. I think that black might reflect light, but it might not. Because we had a reading today that um all the colors of the rainbow make white light and there is a note in the database about that, and everything reflects its own color. But it didn’t say anything about black. EY. (6:18)

(Zhang and Messina, 2010: 52).


  • Assessment: (peer review or should the teacher assess the students?). What about assessing the class´ collective performance?
  • Statistical tools.

Idea development

  • Facilitating idea development: How do you locate good ideas? Who located them? The teacher or the student? Usual that teacher chooses a broad topic and within this framework students can develop their own ideas?
  • Idea development in Knowledge Forum (other online environments) and in the class discussion?
  • In principle, will idea development be the same in all school subjects? Or different in natural science comparet to social science? Will social science be more influenced by critical pedagogy? Implications for teacher collaboration?

Relation between student and teachers

  • Authority: (relationship with the students): More a team member with extra qualifications that the person who knows the answer.

Professional development

  • Professional development (production of material related to Knowledge Building in practice) (text, video, presentations etc.). Portfolio? Participation in online workshops related to Knowledge Building pedagogy.
  • Collaboration with other teachers: Guiding beginning teachers, learning from other teacher´s practice.
  • Discussing Knowledge Building pedagogy: Both group meetings and online environment?

What teacher training does the Knowledge Building pedagogy require?

  • What kind of skill, knowledge, attitude. Do you need to be very competent in the school subject you are teaching? More classroom lessons with colleagues in interdisciplinary projects.
  • How much do you need to discuss examples vs principles?
  • Need communicative competence. Also recommend some communication techniques? (e.g. students picking next speaker, not teacher). Need to explicitly train strategies that are different from IRE? Do you have to learn Knowledge Building as rules first or can start to work as an expert at once (Dreyfus model of skill acquisition). To what degree is the knowledge tacit and not possible to explain as procedures? (Elliot W. Eisner on connoisseurship).
  • Analyze Knowledge Building discourse to increase sensitivity (video and text transcriptions).
  • Are student teachers at OiSE required to read articles about Knowledge Building?

What characterizes a Knowledge Building mentor teacher?

  • Co-development of ideas with beginning teacher/student teacher
  • Participation in a local or global Knowledge Building community is recommended (either with other colleagues at school or another school). How do you encourage establishment of such communities?
  • Not enough to share ideas, teachers should also develop ideas together. Face-to-face communication or online enviroment?
  • Sharing of lession plans, videos, texts in open or closed online environment? Wikibook?


  • Zhang, J., & Messina, R. (2010). Collaborative productivity as self-sustaining processes in a Grade 4 knowledge building community. In K. Gomez, J. Radinsky, & L. Lyons (Eds.), Proceedings of the 9th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (pp. 49-56). Chicago, IL: International Society of the Learning Sciences.