A KB network learning community (NLC) session was held on 18th July 2018 at Teck Whye Sec. It was a successful event involving 6 students and 35 teachers from seven primary and secondary schools in the KB network. The focus of this NLC was on the use of Learning Analytics (LA) in KB classrooms to support teachers in developing KB practices and designing interventions based on visualisations of students' visible and invisible learning patterns. This NLC was also tied in with the soft launch of the edulab project “light up the curriculum”, which aims to examine the use of Learning Analytics in providing visualisations of key ideas in students’ discourse in relation to curriculum maps and the discourse of mature “scientific” communities.
KB Lesson Visit
The NLC commenced with a 45-min KB lesson visit conducted by two History teachers at TWSS, Anthony and Melvin. Ellie, also a Humanities teacher in the KB team, provided the context for the lesson while Melvin worked with the students. This lesson visit was a one of the KB lesson in a series of lessons on Heritage in which students designed and tested a Heritage Trails of Teck Whye, composed a song for the trail, and research and reflected on heritage over many notes on Knowledge Forum. In this lesson, students first worked as a class to suggest a memorabilia for the heritage trail, Melvin then used the just-in-time workd cloud tool in KF to surface the key ideas in class. Students then have to work through these key ideas in their group and to rationalise their own choice.
Melvin explicitly demonstrated how he and his students make use of, and understand, the Learning Analytics afforded by KB technology, such as the Scaffold Tracker and Word Cloud.
This lesson observation was consequently followed by a panel discussion, facilitated by Dr Teo Chew Lee. The panel was made up of members from TWSS (Melvin and students) and St Hilda's Primary (Boon Tee, Audrey, and Miang). The topic of discussion was how these teachers and students feel about working with LA in class; how it has helped them (the perceived usefulness of LA); and the challenges that they face in using and understanding LA.
The students gave detailed explanations of how KF has helped them build their skills in History subject, particularly their abilities to process content, and critique, combine, and enhance/improve on their classmates' theories. One key issue that was brought up was also how the Learning Analytics afforded by KF facilitated students' reflection on their learning and helped them track their own learning trajectory.
In this discussion, Melvin described how teachers do not need to stick to a narrow, established use of LA tools, but could use and adapt the LA in different or novel ways to fit their needs in relation to understanding students' work on KF. He gave the example of the Word Cloud: this tool is traditionally used to see how many times students use specific words in discourse, but he uses the tool during ongoing lessons to help him see what kind of ideas students have, and the possible ways he can use these emergent ideas to stretch their thinking. He gave a brief description of the scaffold tracker as well, the other LA tool that he uses in his classes.
During the panel discussion, the teachers from St Hilda's Primary shared their experiences with using LA. An EL teacher shared that they were inspired to use KB after they realised that students had a big problem with composition writing, as students do not have many ideas, and all compositions tended to be homogeneous. In using KF to help students diversify their ideas, they found that the LA tool Rotational Leadership helped them immensely in making sense of the data they collected from KF. The Rotational Leadership tool enabled teachers to see how students took turns leading the discussions (and indirectly, leading their own learning), how they collaborated in efforts to advance their knowledge, and how they cleared their own misconceptions through collective understanding. Furthermore, teachers realised that students' 'leadership' in KB increased their self-confidence and had a positive influence on their participation in class - this was particularly so for the quieter, less active students in class. As one teacher mentioned, "KB gives the quiet students a voice".
A science teacher from St Hilda's Primary also shared his experience using the LA tool Idea Growth Indicator to extend his students' learning. He explained how the use of this tool served as a concept map to help him see the network of ideas of his students and the keywords which students were using, particularly words on the periphery (i.e., words which represented ideas that were not connected to the main ideas). Based on these words in the periphery, he generated more KB questions to discuss in class, with the intention of expanding students' scope of thinking. He reflected that using the Idea Growth Indicator in mid-lesson to pull out his students' data instead of using it after his lessons as he had usually done, may have been even more effective, as it would have enabled him to facilitate more in-depth discussion of related concepts. He also mentioned that it may be conducive to show the Learning Analytics to students themselves, let them see their own learning and generate their own questions to take ownership of their learning trajectory.
(Photos above, From left) Mr Chan, Principal of Teck Whye Secondary School sharing the rationale and motivation of the Edulab Project; Ms Fong and Ms Teo sharing how they interpret the leadership among their students with the rotating leadership measures (Learning analytics)
Sharing by teachers on putting research into action (Edulab proposal)
The panel discussion was concluded by Melvin, who segued into an introduction of the edulab project "light up the curriculum" (refer to link below), including an explanation of the overarching ideas and the collaborator schools involved in the project. Consequently, two teachers Shahizah and Pavithra (from Ping Yi Sec and Endeavour Primary respectively), shared their plans on how their KB teams were actively putting the research into action in their respective schools.
1. Shahizah from Ping Yi Sec demonstrated how she and her teachers take a thematic approach to designing KB lessons by using the data collected of students' connection across notes and topics. Teachers map curriculum to a theme based on constant strategic reflection on two questions: (1) What are the big idea that students need to understand in order for them to understand each topic better by seeing the connections across different topics? (2) What are the big ideas that emerge as we compare how scientific articles describe the connections across content/concepts?
2. Pavithra from Endeavour Primary first shared about how teachers' capacity in her team is built through PLCs where teachers map the curriculum together, constantly reflect on their practice and thinking routines, and collaboratively discuss ways to extend students' thinking. She then introduced the LA that she and her teachers use, such as the Scaffold Tracker, Vocabulary Growth, Word Cloud, and Network of Students' Ideas. These LA help teachers to map the curriculum, and supports them in planning and designing KB lessons, as teachers are able to see the overlap between key ideas from students’ KB discourse, key ideas from curriculum maps, and key ideas from scientific articles.
The NLC concluded with a feedback session, where everyone engaged in active dialogue and knowledge sharing on the benefits and challenges of using LA in KB practice, and how LA can empower teachers in developing students' 21CC skills.