Understanding Students’ Prior Knowledge
Teachers find out students’ prior knowledge in the topic, and their past experience and level of skills in both classroom and online discussions. Such understanding is helpful to teachers in developing strategies to facilitate students’ discussions. For example, teachers may prompt students to relate the topic to concepts learnt in other subjects, they may develop the norms for group inquiry (探索) together with the students, they may provide short “crash course” to get students familiarise with word processing (especially for Chinese input methods).
Making Use of Groups
For students in Hong Kong, it is perhaps easier to speak up in a small group, and on behalf of the group, before students are confident enough to speak to the whole class as an individual. The method of grouping varies according to students’ and teachers’ needs. For example, students may form groups voluntarily or teachers can assign students into mixed-ability groups. Some teachers find that having a group leader/seed student/role-taking help motivate the others. Depending on the group dynamics, students can take turn to be leaders, vote for their own leaders, or not having one at all in a later stage when all members become active participants in knowledge building.
Facilitating an Initial Inquiry
Teachers set an initial task to orientate the group work. They may assign some reading materials or instruct students to do library search, so that they have something to say on the day of classroom KB activities.