Protocols for Professional Learning

Protocols for Professional Learning

Protocols for Professional Learning

Protocols for Professional Learning


About the PLC series: Welcome to an adventure! If you are a teacher who is interested in developing a professional learning community to develop your classroom repertoire and increase your students' achievement and motivation, you are in for a treat. A professional learning community (PLC) is a small group of teachers or administrators that meets regularly and works between meetings to accomplish shared goals. PLCs are vehicles for connecting teacher practice and student outcomes, improving both.

About this book: Protocols for Professional Learning is your guide to helping PLCs successfully explore any topic. You'll find step-by-step instructions for implementing 16 different protocols that can be used to examine student work or professional practice, address problems with students or among faculty, and facilitate effective discussions.


Dave, a science teacher, brought several science portfolios for his interdisciplinary team to examine. Though each portfolio was more than 30 pages long and bulky with drawings and charts, Dave assured us that we didn’t have to read them all in depth. Nor did we have to assess them. He requested that we use the Tuning Protocol for our discussion—a process for fine tuning what we do as educators by examining student work or artifacts of teacher practice (such as lesson plans).

Because we knew each other well and met regularly, we indulged only in “checking in” as a starting activity. Dave began with these words:

“I’m really proud of these portfolios. I think that—at last—I’ve found a way to link curriculum, instruction, and assessment, all in this one format, the portfolio. Things make sense to me, and also to my students. I’d like to take you through one portfolio while you look through the others. They follow the same format.”

Dave opened the portfolio he had kept and took us through it as we looked at the ones in front of us.

“Here’s the problem: I’m not sure that portfolios stimulate students to think at the highest levels. I’m not sure what levels of Bloom’s taxonomy are represented in these portfolios, but I suspect that only the three lowest are. I definitely want science students to be analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating. So my key questions are these: What can you tell me about the levels of thinking in these portfolios, and how can I be sure that student work reflects the higher levels of thinking?”

Dave gave the group the remaining 8 minutes of his 15-minute time period to pore through the portfolios. We did so quietly, although we had questions and were beginning to test some hypotheses. We knew that during this part of our process, we were to say nothing; Dave had the floor, even though he was staying quiet so we . . .

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