[prohtuh-kawl]: an agreed upon way of doing things.

We will use a variety of protocols throughout the school year to facilitate discussion and display our thinking. This page will be a running record of the ones we’ve used frequently in class.




To read a news article at a Lexile that’s appropriate for the reader.


You, the reader with a sense of curiosity or an opened Newsela binder with articles assigned by your teacher.

Set up

Take a moment to log into your Newsela account. Click on the binder icon at the top of the screen to open your binder to check if there is an article assigned to you for reading. If no article is assigned, feel free to search for articles by clicking on the articles tab.


  1. Check the top of the article to see if there are directions from your teacher.
  2. If no directions are at the top of the article, scan the article briefly, looking for:
    1. Title
    2. Date it was written
    3. Author
    4. Pictures and captions accompanying them.
    5. Graphics
    6. Sub-headings
  3. Read the article once for the gist.
  4. After you read the first time, read a second time annotating text for…
    1. Your teacher will most likely give you something specific to look for during your second read. If not, highlight the words or phrases you do NOT understand  100%.
  5. Review the written prompt. Decide how many paragraphs it will take to sufficiently answer the prompt.
  6. Go back to the text to search for evidence you can use to support your response to the prompt.
  7. Review your answer. Did you:
    1. Give sufficient evidence to justify your interpretations?
    2. Include specific examples that make clear reference to the text?
    3. Adequately support what you said with relevant evidence?
  8. Once writing is complete, you may take the quiz.



Revising and editing are not the same thing. The former means to “re-see” your writing. The latter means to make corrections to the grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and usage of language.

Look closely at the steps in the revision protocol. Notice any “edits” that need to be made? There are two misused homophones and an improperly used adverb. These small errors don’t obfuscate the meaning. They are not the focus of revising. They can be noted by highlighting or circling them so the author can attend to them later, but we want to avoid fixating on these kinds of mistakes when revising. The one part that truly needs revising in the steps is the awkward phrase. Did you spot it in the first step? If not, read it aloud and see if you can hear it.

During a writing assignment, your teacher will typically offer guidance on what to revise or edit for. This is a focused revision or edit.

You can always revise or edit for other things that you or a peer or a teacher happen to notice while reading.

I’ll post images of the cards on this page. Click HERE to download a PDF version of the cards below.

Screenshot 2016-02-15 09.40.45

Screenshot 2016-02-15 09.40.57


Two Word Protocol


To get students to look back through text and select critical words to identify the central idea and key details.


A facilitator to guide the process. Students with texts they can annotate using pencil and highlighter or with sticky notes if they’re unable to mark the text.

Set Up

Teachers select a section of text they wish students to read as part of a unit of study. Students should read the text once prior to the activity to get the gist of it. To insure all students have in fact read the text once, it might be advisable to read the text once in class either whole group or in pairs or triads.


  1. Once students have had a chance to read the text at least once, select the first 100 to 150 words for closer scrutiny. Using a document camera and white paper helps isolate the text and minimize clutter.

  2. Ask students to silently select what they think are the two most important words in that section. Tell them they should not highlight them or underline them with their pencil yet. Once they find those words, they need to think to themselves how they would justify their choice to a partner and the class.

  3. After a reasonable amount of think time, ask students to “Turn and Talk” with a partner about the two words they chose and why they think they’re important.

  4. Next, ask students throughout the room to share their two words starting from the beginning of the section. As they share their justification, underline with pencil the words you feel are critical to summarize the central idea. If a student offers a word that seems less important, try to connect that word or its significance back to one of the words that more accurately captures the central idea.

  5. When doing this for the first section, place a sticky note beneath the document camera and with the class sort the words students selected between nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. You’ll find students will likely have selected mostly nouns, followed by verbs and maybe a handful of adjectives and even fewer adverbs. Point out these words carry the most meaning in our language.

  6. Once you’ve underlined with pencil the most essential words in the section of text, go back and highlight the words. Ask students if they notice any patterns. They should see that only words or phrases were highlighted and that when read provide a kernel for a summary of the central idea and detail.

  7. As students become more familiar with the protocol, encourage them to read text independently or in groups, selecting their own words and underlining with pencils. Check in with students prior to their highlighting of the text. If you see students are underlining too many words, encourage them to reduce the number they think are essential prior to highlighting.

Sample of Page Annotated Using Two Word Protocol

Two Word Protocol



What do you see?

Study the object closely for 2 to 3 minutes without talking.

Observe as many details as possible.

When your teacher says go, share with your group what you see by saying, “I see…”

NOTE: You are NOT interpreting what you see. You are not making inferences about the purpose of the object.

What do you think?

After describing the object to your teammates and listening to others’ observations, it’s time to share what you think about the object.

NOTE: You are NOT just trying to guess what the object is. You are describing what you think is going on with the object.

Share your thinking using these stems:

“Based on what I see, I think…because of the following evidence…”

“Looking at this object makes me think…”

What do you wonder?

Now that you’ve observed and tried to interpret the object, what are you wondering beyond your own interpretations or those shared by your teammates?

For example, if your object appears to be a stone carving of a duck, what issues or ideas does this raise?

Examples of wonderings:

I wonder if we’re going to be studying ducks in science? I wonder if ducks are an important symbol in something we’re going to read? I wonder if my teacher likes waterfowl like ducks and geese? I wonder if we’re going to have a visitor come to class to share information with us about birds? I wonder if…?)

From Project Zero’s Visible Thinking 




To collaboratively construct meaning, clarify, and expand our thinking about a text or document.


A facilitator to guide the process. A scribe to track the phrases and words that are shared.

Set Up

Take a few moments to review the document and mark the sentence, the phrase, and the word that you think is particularly important for our work.


  1. First Round: Each person shares a sentence from the document that he/she thinks/feels is particularly significant.

  2. Second Round: Each person shares a phrase that he/she thinks/feels is particularly significant. The scribe records each phrase.

  3. Third Round: Each person shares the word that he/she thinks/feels is particularly significant. The scribe records each word.

  4. The group discusses what they heard and what it says about the document.

  5. The group shares the words that emerged and any new insights about the document.

  6. The group debriefs the text rendering process.

From National School Reform Faculty 




To empower students to brainstorm questions they want answered during a unit of study while simultaneously developing their “divergent (brainstorming), convergent (categorizing and prioritizing), and metacognitive (reflective) thinking abilities in a very short period of time.”


Facilitator guides the process. Students record questions and work with them individually.

Set Up

Students need piece of paper and writing utensil. Teacher needs to have Question Focus (QFocus) prepared ahead of time.


  1. Teacher shares QFocus. This can be a phrase, a question, an image, film clip, something to focus students’ attention. Avoid using more than one QFocus.

  2. Students generate questions related to the QFocus. Be sure that students know the four rules for question generation:

  • Ask as many questions as you can.

  • Do not stop to discuss, judge, or answer any of the questions.

  • Write down every question exactly as it was stated.

-Change any statements into questions

  1. Students improve questions. Evaluate questions and sort into closed ended or open ended categories. Switch at least one question of each type to the other type.

  2. Prioritize questions. Which three do you want answered during the course of study?

  3. Next steps. Now that we’ve got questions, what do we do to get them answered? To whom do we turn? What can we find?

From Right Question Institute




This helps a reader visualize what they read by describing specific attributes of text. The goal ultimately is for students to read text, describe it to themselves, and better visualize it.


Pairs or triads of students form teams and take turns visualizing and verbalizing.

Set up

The teacher needs to provide the class with interesting images to start the procedure. Images from calendars or magazines will work. The key thing is they need to be interesting or feature unique content.


  1. The first student selects a photograph or illustration to model the process but does not show it to their team.

  2. The student views the image closely for 2-3 minutes without speaking. Next he or she describes what they see using the 12 ways to visualize. They are:


  1. what you see
  2. sizes of things
  3. colors of things
  4. numbers of things
  5. shapes of things
  6. where things are in relation to each other
  7. movement of things
  8. mood of the setting and why
  9. background objects
  10. perspective of what you see (ex. high, eye, or low angle; from the side or behind or beneath)
  11. when you imagine things occurring
  12. sounds that might be present
  1. As the team listens, they construct a mental image of what is being described to them by the speaker.

  2. Once the speaker has finished thoroughly describing the image, it’s revealed to the listeners, so they can confirm or correct the mental images they formed. At this point, students should discuss the mental images and any incongruities between the mental and actual image.

  3. As students build their skills in describing images, they will switch to small chunks of text—either a paragraph or a couple of sentences—and repeat the visualization process.

From Lindamood Bell Learning Processes




This can be used before, during, or after a lesson. It can be used to help students clarify a concept. It can be used to break up instruction. Research shows students benefit from “changing things up” every 11 to 17 minutes.


Students need to have either an A-B partner, elbow partner, or discussion partner nearby, since they will not necessarily be getting out of seats or moving around the classroom to engage in Turn and Talk.

Set up

Teacher poses a question. It helps to have it written on white board, projected onto screen, or-if in a 1:1 setting-posted online so students can refer to the question during discussion. If handing out the question on paper, be sure to hand out only the question you want discussed at that moment. You do not want to provide students a list of questions that will be addressed in advance, otherwise it will look like any other assignment and you’ll risk losing students engagement.


  1. Teacher poses question.
  2. Teacher asks students to pause and THINK quietly to themselves for a reasonable amount of time (10 to 15 seconds)
  3. Teacher asks students to turn to a partner and discuss question for a set amount of time. (Time can be adjusted as needed. I often listen for volume of discussion to either taper off-indicating students are wrapping up their thoughts-or listen for volume of discussion to rise-indicating students are done talking about question and onto something else.)
  4. Teacher asks groups to share out ah-ha’s or observations, making sure groups do not repeat anything mentioned by other groups.
  5. If students want to silently interact as another group shares out, I encourage them to use hand gestures to show “I agree” or “Yes” or “No.” It shows active listening on the class’s part and provides an opportunity to deepen discussion.




This protocol is a way to get unstuck or to get feedback on work that is in progress but needs to be “elevated” when it comes to quality. It is a “low-stakes” discussion. It’s a chance to share ideas or work that is not yet ready to be formally evaluated or put on public display.

The charette is based on two assumptions:

  1. Individuals or groups working together can usually produce better work than individuals or groups working in isolation (“none of us is as smart as all of us”)
  2. There is no piece of work that with more time, thought and effort couldn’t be improved (“with learning there is no finish line”).


An individual or team can request a charette. Listeners need to actively listen. Everyone needs to agree that specific, helpful, and kind feedback will be given.

Set up 

Participants need a stopwatch or access to a timer/clock. Participants need to sit in a small circle.


  1. PRESENTATION Presenter(s) get 3 minutes to present their project idea or dilemma. (Time can be adjusted as needed.)
  2. FRAMING QUESTION Presenter(s) get 1 minute to present what they would like feedback on. (Time can be adjusted as needed.)
  3. FEEDBACK Listener(s) get 2 minutes to share specific, kind, helpful feedback based on what the presenter(s) wants. (Time can be adjusted as needed.)
  4. OPEN DISCUSSION The presenter(s) and listener(s) get 2 minutes to discuss the suggestions or feedback. (Time can be adjusted as needed.)

Want to see what happens when kind, specific, helpful feedback is given? Check out “Austin’s Butterfly” below.




This activity gets students out of their chairs, onto their feet, and engaged in a focused discussion. What students discuss depends on what the teacher’s focus for the gallery walk is.

This can be viewed as a formative assessment of how a project is going and what it might need to be elevated to the next level of performance.

If students are looking for feedback on a project underway, they may be asked to create a sketch of the project on a larger poster paper. What’s required for the poster may vary depending on what the teacher has designed into the project.

A teacher might want to set up a series of images, quotes, primary sources, infographics, or other items around the room to stimulate discussion amongst students. The teacher might ask students to discuss and/or write brief notes on what they know, what they wonder, what they feel, or something else. These observations can then serve for small group and/or whole group discussion.

The ways a gallery walk can be modified are endless. I’ll describe the steps involved in a gallery walk that’s looking for feedback on a project (i.e. infographic, outline for piece of writing, draft of a written document, video presentation, Keynote, mind map, etc.)


Students should be reminded that feedback should be kind, specific, and helpful.

Set up

Students and/or teacher need to determine what the purpose of the gallery walk is (to provide feedback, make observations about a series of artifacts, etc.).


  1. SET UP Students get 3 minutes to set up items to be viewed by peers. (Time can be adjusted as needed.)
  2. ROLE ASSIGNMENT (optional) Teacher gets up to 2 minutes to instruct students to view the items considering specific criteria to look for. For example: “Provide feedback on the clarity of writing.” or “Provide feedback on the item’s visual appeal.” (Time can be adjusted as needed.)
  3. GALLERY WALK & FEEDBACK Students get up to 20 minutes to rotate throughout room, observing items on display. The teacher may want this to be a voices off or a quiet voices activity. Either way, students are expected to write ideas on sticky notes and attach to the item being viewed. (If it’s a digital item, they should place sticky notes on a desk or poster paper near the item.) If students were assigned roles above, they need to make sure to address the specific criteria established by the teacher. Students may also add comments that PRAISE the work, ask QUESTIONS of the work, or provide a suggestion to POLISH the work. (Time can be adjusted as needed.)
  4. REFLECTION Students and teacher get up to 5 minutes at the end of the gallery walk to share ah ha’s and observations provided by peers and/or teacher.