EduProtocols: Get Ready to Change Your Life (Or At Least Your Classroom)

How much time do we spend teaching the task, and how much do we spend teaching the content? That’s the question Marlena Hebern and Jon Corippo asked themselves, which led to the development of a great set of teaching techniques they call EduProtocols. They compare the protocols to a picture frame– the picture can change continuously, but the frame stays the same. The authors have two books that include a total of 28 EduProtocols, with 16 in the first book and 12 in the second. Both books are available on Amazon and would make excellent additions to any school’s professional library.

What is an EduProtocol, Anyway? 

As you probably know, a protocol is a set of procedures or a way of doing a task so that no matter what the center is, the procedure stays the same. A great example of a protocol in education is a spelling test. The teacher says, “Time for this week’s spelling test,” and the students know to get out a piece of paper, number it one to whatever, and wait for the words to be called. (Please note, this blogger is NOT in favor of spelling tests, but it’s an example to which many of us can relate.) An EduProtocol is the same idea, but here’s the upshot: EduProtocols have the 21st-century skills of communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking built-in. How cool is that?

A Few Examples of EduProtocols

This image reads, "Fast and Curious".

Fast and Curious: Great for teaching vocabulary or any set of facts that students need to know. Set up an online quiz using a platform such as Quizizz or Gimkit. Have students take the quiz. (Note: Quizizz is set to have students go through the questions one time. Gimkit is set for a specific amount of time, and the questions recycle until the time is up. For first attempts, if you use Gimkit, students will be able to self-check and get more attempts at a question.) After the first time through, the teacher looks at the data, decides what needs to be reinforced, and teaches a mini-lesson on the troublesome terms. Then, the teacher gives the quiz again. (Note: If Gimkit was used the first time, use Quizizz the second, as you want a one and done set of data for going forward.) This all takes 10, maybe 15 minutes. The next day, do the same thing again. The next day, do the same thing again. By the 4th day, if the whole class is at 90% or better on the final quiz, everyone gets an A and that 15 minutes of time is free to do something else on Friday. 

Why this is cool: So often we teach vocabulary or key facts in isolation or a one-time lesson. By using Fast and Curious, students get repeated exposure to the content, which helps move it into long-term memory. This protocol is designed to take 10-15 minutes of class time and then move on. What’s not to love? 

This is an image of a slide that reads, "Iron Chef" and has a picture of a chef hat, cutting board, and produce.

Iron Chef: The Iron Chef EduProtocol fits with every content in a meaningful and useful way. The basics: Divide the class into groups of four. If you need one group of five or two groups of three, that’s fine. Create a Google slide deck, with five slides: one title slide and four slides with a different aspect of a central theme. For example, the title slide says, “Virginia.” The other four slides have some aspect of Virginia that the students need to know, such as “Virginia Economy,” “Virginia Government,” “Virginia Geography,” and  “Virginia Cities.” Just like in the Iron Chef cooking show, there is a secret ingredient. All of the Iron Chef slides have the same secret ingredient. For this slide deck, it might be, “Name a famous Virginian and how this person contributed to Virginia and/or US history.” The secret ingredient is to be finished last. The students are to build their slides in 10-15 minutes. Then, each group presents their slide deck. The teacher grades, while the students are presenting, which means no papers are taken home that night. 

Why this is cool: Collaboration (not cooperation which often means one student does all of the work) is built-in. Students are doing real-world research. The teacher gets to grade and gives immediate feedback.

These are only two of the 28 amazing EduProtocols that Hebern and Corippo have presented. To learn more, visit the EduProtocols website. The authors recommend starting with a low cognitive load and building-up and introducing protocols one-at-a-time. We want students to be familiar with the protocols, so when any teacher says, “We’re going to do an Iron Chef today,” the students will know what’s expected. They also say that these are designed to be fun; if the students are not having fun, you might be doing it wrong. Have some fun in your class today, and try an EduProtocol. It will Change. Your. Life. 

Authorship Information: 

Beth Elgert is an ITRT with New Kent County Public Schools. She has been in New Kent for three years and an ITRT for 14. When not ITRTing, she (Gram) can be found partnering with her husband (Bumpa) in chasing the two cutest human beings on the planet, grandsons Nick and Chris, who blessedly live 10 minutes from them.