1. Jianwei Zhang
  2. http://www.albany.edu/etap/Jianwei_Zhang.php
  3. Associate Professor and Department Chair
  5. State University of New York at Albany
  1. Guangji Yuan
  2. Doctoral student
  4. State University of New York at Albany

Connecting Idea Threads across Communities for Sustained Knowledge Building

NSF Awards: 1441479

2017 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades K-6

In current practices, inquiry learning is often organized as short and scattered activities in individual classrooms. This research explores ways to support sustained inquiry and dialogue across classrooms. We tested a multi-layer interaction design: As students engage in focused inquiry and discourse within their own classroom’s online space, they review productive threads of ideas generated from their work and create “super note” reflection for cross-classroom sharing. The “super notes” serve as “boundary-crossing objects,” which focus on synthesizing the unfolding journey of inquiry using four scaffolds: Our research topic and problem(s)..., We used to think…, now we understand…, We need deeper research… Idea Thread Mapper was designed to support the cross-classroom sharing and interaction.

Following the multi-layer interaction design, a set of buddy classrooms from Albany, NY and Toronto, ON participated in collaborative knowledge building in shared scientific areas. Students used the “super notes” from other classroom as a resource to advance their inquiry, including those written by the previous student cohorts. Students found it highly motivating and rewarding to put their ideas in broader and actual use by other classrooms. Comparing the themes and depths of the inquiry work of different classrooms triggered deep reflection on their own inquiry. Students further adopted questions and ideas from other classrooms to develop integrated understanding.

We are developing an international network of inquiry classrooms. Students from Asia, Canada, and the US, will engage in collaborative inquiry of challenging issues facing the world today and accumulate a shared knowledge base over time.

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