Thursday, November 8, 2012

Protocols as Scaffolding for Culture

During last week's Meeting of the Minds, we attempted to model the intentional use of protocols in multiple situations as a way of facilitating effective participant-centered learning.  One of the more interesting take-aways that came out of our debriefs of this process was the relationship between the use of protocols and classroom and school culture. 

Several participants arrived at the conclusion that protocols can serve as scaffolding for culture.  To unpack this a little, what we noted was that by having students use clear and structured protocols we:
  • Give them the opportunity to collaborate in more structured settings.
  • Often make use of "sentence stems" like "I wonder" or "A next step might be" to 
  • Provide replicable models of language and interaction that they can apply in less structured settings.
  • Provide a safer space for group and peer accountability.
  • Are able to model the above accountability in language they can borrow for their own use.
  • Have common experiences we can reflect on and reference in conversations about larger class or school culture.
I think many of us have seen the effect of the regular use of the Critical Friends Protocol in shifting language to more of a "Likes and Wonders" approach - which is very conducive to culture building.  I am excited to see what might come from a refocusing on the use of protocols and the explicit connection of these protocols to culture building.

A few protocols you might take a look at for easy use in your classroom include:

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