Thursday, November 12, 2015

Discussion Protocols

Recently, I've been working with our fourth and fifth grade students and their teachers on discussion protocols. My interest in using protocols began this past summer when I attended a "Critical Friends" training seminar with many colleagues throughout our supervisory union.

This series of discussion lessons began with the development of a rubric of expectations. (It is still a work in progress-so feedback is welcome!)  Here it is.

Discussion Rubric
1
Not Meeting Expectations
2
Approaching
Expectations
3
Meeting Expectations
4
Exceeding Expectations
Listening Skills
My eyes, ears, and body are not listening.

I interrupt others.
My eyes, ears and body are listening and facing the speaker part of the time.
My eyes, ears, and body are always listening and facing the speaker.

My eyes, ears, and body are always listening and facing the speaker.
I am able to help others in my group by giving subtle, quiet reminders.
Speaking Skills
I don’t use a Level 1 voice.

I don’t actively participate in the discussion.
I speak in a Level 1 voice most of the time.

I actively participate in the discussion part of the time when it is my turn to speak.
I speak in a Level 1 voice all the time.
I actively participate when it is my turn to speak.
I stay on the topic by adding comments that link to the discussion.
I speak in a Level 1 voice.
I actively participate when it is my turn to speak.
I stay on the topic by adding comments that link to the discussion.
I take on a positive leadership role in my group.
Preparation Skills
I am not prepared to participate in the discussion.

I do not have the materials I need.
I have most of my materials ready and use some of them effectively throughout the discussion.
I have all my materials ready and use them effectively throughout the discussion.
I use evidence to support my claims.
I have all my materials ready and use them effectively throughout the discussion.
I use evidence to support my claims.
I share materials with others as needed to help the group be productive.
Respect
Skills
I am not respectful to others.
I am respectful to others most of the time.
I consistently show respect to others in my group by showing empathy, taking turns and respectfully agreeing and/or disagreeing.
I consistently show respect to others in my group or partnership,  by showing empathy, taking turns and respectfully agreeing and/or disagreeing.
I am a role model for others.
To date we have learned, practiced and applied four different protocols.  These protocols were chosen and tweaked a bit for students from The School Reform Initiative Resource and Protocol Book (SRI) and The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo.
They are:
  • "Jigsaw" from SRI
  • "Write-Talk-Write" from Serravallo
  • "Save the Last Word for Me" from SRI
  • "Keep the Line Alive" from Serravallo
We've applied these discussion strategies to picture books that we've read together and analyzed for themes, author's purpose and real world applications.  
To date we've read and discussed: 
  • The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce
  • Three Hens and a Peacock by Lester Laminack
  • Mr. Peabody's Apples by Maddona 
  • Feathers and Fools by Mem Fox.  
I've been truly amazed with the level of discussion and reflection students have demonstrated by using the protocols.  Just this week, I was almost brought to tears as I watched and listened to fourth and fifth graders reflect on thoughts about differences, war, communication, symbolism, gossip, rumors, feelings of isolation and the lessons of life.  

I'm filled with gratitude for these students and their teachers. As a literacy coach, I'm constantly learning and growing from this work. I'm able to do this because I'm surrounded with my best teachers, my esteemed colleagues and their amazing students! 

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