Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Power of Protocols

P.J. McDonald, N. Mohr, A. Dichter, & E.C. McDonald. (2003). The power of protocols: an educator's guide to better practice. New York, NY: Teachers College Pr.

Summary:  This book is a collection of 24 tried-and-true protocols that are appropriate for a variety of educational contexts: using outside resources, working on problems of practice, and exploring student work.  The authors carefully explain the purpose of protocols, which are structures for guiding a discussion or conversation that increase equity and focus in a group.  Each protocol is outlined with recommended contexts and step-by-step breakdown of the components and time frame. 

Evaluation:  The authors pull from a variety of resources and credit each protocol to its originator.  There is a significant list of print and online resources and references at the end of the book as well.  The authors come from a variety of backgrounds but pull on their collective knowledge of and experiences with protocols to create a well-rounded and useful guidebook.  

Reflection:  This is an immediately accessible book: one could access different sections based on need or use the whole book to study protocols.  Prior to reading this book, I had never heard of protocols.  The authors do an excellent job explaining the purpose of protocols and when each might be useful: in the classroom, with small or large groups, with different levels of trust/familiarity amongst participants.  The sections about developing norms and establishing trust in a group have been crucial to how I have been approaching staff development at my school.  The other section is the protocols used to look at student work--I needed ways to evaluate student and teacher work in authentic, engaged, but honest ways and these protocols give the structures to make such evaluations successful!

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