Protocols for Group Work

I am organizing a small PD session for teachers tomorrow night, for which participants will have read an article. I needed a protocol for a small group discussion, so I thought I would share a one of my favorites. When we put kids into small groups, it is always important to remember that we need to make sure every student has a voice.  This protocol is a great way to make that happen.


1. Organize students into groups of 4.

2. Each student silently highlights a passage that addresses what he/she considers to be the most significant idea or something that sparked their thinking.

3. The students number off. Student One reads his or her passage out loud to the group, and then he/she remains silent.

4. The other 3 participants each have 1 minute to respond to the passage, saying what it makes them think about, what questions it raises for them, etc.

5. Student One then has 3 minutes to state why he or she chose that part of the article and to respond or build on what he or she heard from his or her peers.

6. Then the pattern is continued with each member of the group. Each student will have a chance to be the presenter and to have “the last word.”

7. As an option at the end of the activity, the whole class can have an open dialogue about the text and the ideas or questions raised during the protocol.