Reflection: Learning Communities Spaceship Earth: Concept formation (1 of 5) - Section 4: Refining our understanding through three levels of text


I use a number of text-based protocols in small student groups that allow students to control conversations in an academically rigorous way.  We will use protocols weekly so that they are a habit of academic behavior.  Protocols are an important tool for learning in my classroom.

Protocols also play an important role in professional collaboration.  I also use protocols frequently in my work in coaching and leading meetings with educators.  Protocols are a staple of effective facilitation, and are a recommended tool for teachers interested in developing a professional toolkit. 

So what exactly are protocols?  Essential a protocol is an agreed structure for conversation involving clearly defined steps, carefully budgeted time, and purposeful questioning.  All participants understand and agree to the structure.  While protocols can feel unnecessary at first--the common pushback of "We are all professionals, can't we just talk?" is common--they will likely become an essential feature of productive work.  They are tools that constrain conversation in order to free it and are remarkably effective at facilitating conversations that lead to actions that substantially improve student learning and educator effectiveness.  

For a longer read about protocols, I recommend Joseph McDonald's work.  I was fortunate enough to work with Professor McDonald a few times during my certification process as a coach of facilitative leadership through NYU's Metro Learning Communities and each time I was struck by his insight.  For teachers wanting a shorter primer, that attached slideshow offers a clear overview.  Finally, for teachers wanting a more philosophical take on what facilitation means, the attached article provides many provocative ideas.

  Learning Communities: Text protocols
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Spaceship Earth: Concept formation (1 of 5)

Unit 2: Citizen science, Student design
Lesson 3 of 13

Objective: Students will be able to: 1) develop a claim with evidence arguing for or against the resiliency of Earth; 2) derive the meaning of the concept of Spaceship Earth from the professional experiences of astronauts; and 3) consider resources required to support life on Earth through student-led discussion.

Big Idea: For modern humans, basic resources like water, oxygen, and soil can seem like limitless resources. How might we understand that human life actually requires a complex and delicate balance of interconnected forces?

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Science, Statistics, field work, Community Mapping, engineering design thinking
  55 minutes
graphic spaceship
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