Note: effective immediately, we have moved to a new site knights-of-knowledge.com. This WordPress site will no longer be updated or maintained.
Years ago, in an attempt to build bridges for educators interested in inquiry, we created a fictional ancient organization called the Knights of Knowledge. This group was founded in antiquity and included Socrates, Phythagoras, Archimedes, Newton, Galileo, Madame Curie, Pablo Picasso, Stravinsky, Georgia O’Keefe, Roger Bannister, and numerous others up to modern times. Those selected for this secret organization had two characteristics: They asked, and answered, interesting questions. Second, each answer led to even more interesting questions.
Our reason for creating this fictional society was that children love the idea of being involved in something secret and special. And so they are told that the ancient Knights of Knowledge needs new members who are given short video‐based assignments consisting of a compelling question which forms the basis of a mission – an in‐depth research project related to the curriculum. Each video clip is only a minute or so in length – just long enough to set the stage for the challenge and for asking the question. From then on, the student is on his or her own to find answers and build a report, before generating follow‐on questions. These missions can be used at multiple grade levels. (Note: Higher resolution videos are available from us directly. Contact David Thornburg for details.)
When students are researching topics on their own, there is a huge opportunity for them to develop passion for the subject area – a passion that does not appear in a traditional textbook approach to instruction but which is essential if they want to pursue further studies or a career in the field.
With the Common Core Standards and Next Generation Science Standards, the time is ripe to revisit this topic. Why? Because the new standards are less focused on specific pieces of information and more focused on processes and the transferability of knowledge between domains of study. Teachers need all the help they can get, and the Knights of Knowledge materials can be a key element in providing support and encouragement for the transformations we need to make in light of these new standards. We are making the transition from a noun-based curriculum to one based on verbs – actions taken by students in support of their own learning.
The Categories area at the top of this screen contains links to the materials we have developed. Any task for which a video has been posted can be examined by clicking on its name.
Anyone wanting assistance or wanting to learn the process by which these projects are made should contact Dr. David Thornburg for more information.
(Note that Knights of KnowledgeTM is a trademark of the Thornburg Center.)