Knowledge Building Centers

A Knowledge Building Center is a way of providing an online collaborative environment for a unit of study. 
It scaffolds the inquiry process with tools for learning and places to work together 24/7.

Knowledge building is a central focus of the learning commons program.  The work of the learning commons is to use the power of information and technology, the physical space of the learning commons as an extension of the classroom, and the curriculum of the various classrooms, to push excellence in the school through effective collaboration.

The emergence of collaborative technologies, the opening of quality information and multimedia resources, and quality instructional designs, allow classroom teachers new opportunities to develop super learning experiences jointly with the specialists of the school.  Teacher librarians, teacher technologists, reading specialists, teachers of the gifted, and special education teachers stand ready to combine forces to demonstrate that co-teaching and integrated instruction are far superior to isolated one-person teaching strategies.

Knowledge building can happen as a face to face experience, a totally online experience, or a combination of both. We recommend that  a knowledge building website, wiki, or other virtual tool be used to create a series of learning experiences as the organizing element of collaborative instruction.

The examples and resource below detail the huge impact that the library learning commons can have on teaching and learning throughout the school.

KBC Templates and Examples from the Field

Template: The Knowledge Building Center template is a free Google site that when downloaded and renamed can be the virtual home of a cotaught learning experience between classroom teacher and teacher librarian. When you examine the various rooms in this template and how they are constructed for collaboration, you can generally use the ideas in any content management system. The secret is to have both adult partners as co-owners of the site so that both can build, construct, edit, revise and create a learning experience as co-equals. The ideas can also be duplicated in Google Classroom. The downloadable template is at: or you can just google "knowledge building center template."

Imagine students engaging in inquiry and research where learning is transparent, collaboration builds understanding, formative assessment is timely and useful, access to resources is personalized and scaffolded for success, and where students are truly engaged in deeper learning. The Knowledge-Building Centre model offers this opportunity.

Other templates to try:
                                        Titanic Inquiry
                             Bruce Trail Expedition for Kids

More Examples to Examine:

Examples from students at San Jose State University:

 What is a Poem? using the writer theme :

Book2Cloud examples:  See them on the Book2Cloud site at

How to find and use a KBC Template

YouTube Video

                             The Virtual Learning Commons

        Templates: Knowledge Building Centers are just one part of the Virtual Learning Commons...a transformed school library website. Not only are current learning experiences exhibited and used here by students and teachers, but they are archived as evidence of the impact of the Learning Commons on teaching and learning in the school.  There are three free templates available:
        Middle school

        Curriculums based on Open Educational Resources (OERs):
        Many schools are turning away from textbooks as a single source of information and guidance to open educational resources that are freely available  for free or at minimal cost. These resources are exploding on the web from libraries, government organizations, civic groups, museums, and individuals. To demonstrate the teamwork of groups of librarians curating resources, students at the iSchool in San Jose State University teamed up to build a sample year-long curriculum that is participatory in nature and working with the latest social studies framework issued by the California State Dept. of Education.  You can see the site that concentrates on the merger of classroom and library learning commons at:  Perhaps a group of teacher librarians in your district, region, or state/province could create such a resource.

        Guide to Makerspaces: Here is a gresat essay on the steps to including in the creation of makerspaces in schools and also in the library learning commons at:

        Poster: The UTEC Maker Model: This printable poster shows the pathway that creators take from Using to Tinkering, to Experimenting, and finally to Creaging. As they do so, they develop various dispositions that help them achieve thier goals. Print out the poster at:

        Poster: The Design Thinking process is essential to all makers and designers who use it along the pathway of creating and invention. This poster highlights the ideas of Ideas & Brainstorming, Defining, Publish & Produce, Test & Evaluate, and Model & Prototype. The poster can be downloaded and printed at:

        Virtual Knowledge Building Centers are:

        • Collaborative construction zones between adults and students

        • Places to learn, solve, work, create, think, achieve, shine, demonstrate

        • Participatory learning

        • Higher level thinking and metacognition

        • Ventures into the real world of information

        • Free or almost free

        • Simple to create on a variety of technologies

        • Showcase of super learning experiences

        • The Paperless Future :)

        Coteaching Instructional Designs

        As classroom teachers and teacher librarians join forces to design, create and assess learning experiences together, it is important that they create designs together that not only accomplish the goals set out by each partner but contribute to critical thinking, deep understanding, making, and that use technology to boost both content and 21st Century skills.

        Poster: The Successful Learner can be used with learners of all ages to embed the idea that successful learners operate in three different worlds: Personal Expertise, Cooperative Groups, and Collaborative Intelligence. To be successful in each sphere is to go a long way in developing the skills needed to succeed in almost any profession, career, or skilled labor. The poster can be downloaded and printed from:

        Poster: The Learning Journey poster can be used with learners of all ages to show them in advance, during, and after a learning experience that happens in the Library Learning Commons the pathway through that experience that involves the learning of a topic and the development of learning skills as we do so  and then ending up asking the major questions of So What? and What's next? The poster can be downloaded and printed at:

        Consider the LIIITE Model: Taking into consideration the content learning proposed by the classroom teacher, the teacher librarian embeds one or several of their own goals that  are designed to boost the content learning. This model shows six major possibilities: Literacies, Information, Inquiry & Discovery, Instructional Designs, Technology Boosts, and Expertise & Leadership. A workshop guide that can be used to study this model and build a local strategy is at:

        High Level Instructional Designs: The two books pictured above: Beyond Bird Units and, The Big Think provide 18 Think Models that push traditional learning experiences up toward deep learning, cooperative group work, and collaborative intelligence. And, after the learning experience is over, the classroom teacher and teacher librarians conduct a metacognitive look back with the students on the experience in order to assess what and how the experience progressed and how they can do better the next time one of these cotaught experiences happen.  Both books contain many examples of learning experiences and reflective practices K-12. Both books are available at And, the 18 think models  from the first book are attached at the bottom of this page.

        Book2Cloud Model instructional design:  When learners are challenged to study a complex text or challenging idea, a Book2Cloud learning experience breaks down a book, essay, poem, document, or other complex idea into small pieces where individuals or small groups adopt a small piece, create something that helps understand the piece, and then everyone puts it all together to understand the larger piece as a whole.  The website with many examples is at: and two examples below show how it is done:

        Assessment of making:  Here are some recommendations from an expert about assessing the impact of making on the makers at:

        David Loertscher,
        Jul 16, 2016, 7:17 PM
        David Loertscher,
        Jul 16, 2016, 7:17 PM
        David Loertscher,
        Jul 18, 2016, 2:18 PM
        David Loertscher,
        Jul 16, 2016, 6:56 PM