Grade 6s Reflect on The Knowledge Building Circle

So much incredible learning happened in our classroom this week, but certainly the highlight was a visit from Phil Frei, founder of Bridge International Academies who shared his first hand experience of life in the slums of Kenya. Phil had a profound effect on my students, causing their mental models of the world and their place in it to change.  For that, we are grateful.

Students have been exploring the role of the United Nations in the world as part of our Social Studies inquiry, What Does it Mean to Be a Global Citizen? It was a Knowledge Building Circle day in the inquiry cycle and Phil arrived in time to join the circle, listen as students shared what they had been learning, and contributed by explaining how land mines in Sudan are removed. After the circle, he went on to conduct his presentation on Kenya.

Today I took time to interview students about how they feel about the Knowledge Building Circle. The process is new to us and I wanted to know if they find it useful for learning.  I know students enjoy the circle – on KBC days, they rush into class and begin moving desks out of the way before I even get there.

The questions I asked were along the following lines: How do you feel about our process for learning – having the UN as our topic, researching your interest within that, bringing what you learned back to the class to share and building on each others ideas in the KBC?  I also asked them to consider how it would be different if I taught a lesson on the UN in front of the class and they were at their desks.

I really like the KBC and getting to share. It’s interesting to hear what people have found out. I’m more comfortable sharing in the circle. If a teacher taught us a lesson instead most of us would forget because we haven’t done anything ourselves. We do more thinking when we do our own learning. At a desk we do it because we “have to”.

It’s good. We get to know other people’s ideas and if they are different from ours we can make notes and learn.  When the teacher is teaching, no one is talking to each other – only the teacher.  I don’t like when some people pass and have nothing to say or add.

I like it because we get to research our own ideas and you get everyone else’s knowledge. You get a lot more pieces of knowledge.

I like it because you get to show what you learned and when someone builds on your idea you get to learn even more. I like that you really have to listen to your classmates so you know if your idea has been talked about.

It’s easier. It’s open. It’s not stressful. When a teacher teaches it’s easy to get lost. I think most kids get lost quite a bit if it’s only the teacher teaching.

The circle is really comfortable. You can make notes and it’s easier for learning.

With the KBC it’s easier to remember because it’s interesting to you. I like the sharing and we get to build on each other’s ideas.  I remember more this way than when a teacher is teaching.

I like it. You learn and you get to check out what others have learned.  It’s easier to remember. Often when a teacher teachers you’re not really paying attention. With KBC you’re more interested in learning and hearing many ideas that others have learned.

I like it more than when a teacher is teaching. You get to find out about what you’re interested in. There’s variety because you find out what others are learning. I don’t like it when you lose your idea in the KBC because someone has already shared what your were going to say.

The KBC is good.  You get to say your idea and hear a variety of people and idea’s. If a teacher was teaching a lesson on the UN you would only hear one person’s idea. With KBC there’s more variety.  I don’t like when someone says what I was going to say, so I think everyone should come with at least 3 ideas.

KBC is good because there’s a lot of variety and different information.  It’s better because you don’t have to worry about raising your hand. Everyone gets to speak.

I like KBC better than when a teacher teaches. A teacher can be boring and then you tune out. In KBC everyone is involved, you can say more and find out more.  It’s not as boring.

I like it.  You don’t have to learn about just one topic that a teacher has decided.  You get to learn about what others are interested in. They may have researched something that you would never have thought of learning about and then you get to learn it too.

KBC is a lot easier because you are not finding out all the information by yourself. You learn about 1 thing, but then you get to learn about 20 other ideas that others looked up. It’s less time and you learn more.  You remember more and you can write notes on what others are sharing.  It’s better than a teacher teaching, it’s more student guided and we can add on to each other’s ideas. We don’t have to do just what the teacher said.

I like this way better. I’m more comfortable in the circle than having to put your hand up in a class and worrying that what you have to say might be wrong. I am also learning more. If you research something and then someone shares something that you didn’t even know was on a site, you can go and learn more about that. I love this way of learning.

You can learn more about deep learning and knowledge building here. 



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