Tag Archives: remote learning

7 Remote Feedback Protocols

This is the seventh of a series of posts about what Project Based Learning infused with Social and Emotional Learning looks like when teaching remotely. Is it the ideal situation? Probably not, but it is the reality that many of us are dealing with. I will share my ideas and what others are doing to hopefully inspire you to action.

No one does their best work on the first attempt. Anything of quality takes repeated effort and iterations to develop. When I think of Feedback and Refinement I always think of my former colleague, Nate Langel, a PBL chemistry teacher. Instead of canned experiments, his lab was full of student teams designing and implementing their own ideas based on the project standards. When they tried something that “didn’t work,” Langel would get excited and give them all High 5’s, congratulating them on finding out something that wasn’t true. Then the students had to update their hypothesis and try again. He had a culture of improvement in his lab without judgement. Kids were excited to figure out science by experimenting rather than lectures.

Sign up to get free access to Google Slides of these 7 protocols for remote Feedback and Refinement.

Giving and receiving effective feedback does not come naturally for students. Let’s be honest, most adults aren’t that great at it either. That’s why protocols are so important to teach students how to give and accept good feedback that leads to product improvement. They also provide structure that keeps students on track and on time. For the rest of this post, I will share how to use many common PBL feedback protocols in a remote, online setting.

In general, most protocols will use breakout rooms to put students into smaller groups. The key to feedback protocols online is clear teacher setup and communication of directions. Students need to understand what to do in the breakout before they are sent there. Consider doing the protocol as a whole class before sending students off into breakout rooms. Adapt times for your students based on their age and PBL experience.

Put the directions slide somewhere that students can reference it during the protocol (Classroom, Docs, etc). Create simple templates for students to record their thoughts both as audience and as presenter. Written notes help ensure that students don’t “forget” the feedback the next day and can be used as formative assessments.

Train students to mute themselves when it is not their turn to speak in any protocol.

Speed Dating is a quick protocol for simple feedback early in the PBL process. You should emphasize that the teacher will be the timekeeper and broadcast the steps so that students know when to shift turns and rooms. Next the teacher creates enough breakout rooms for student pairs. When creating rooms it is critical that students can choose their own rooms (“Let participants choose room” in Zoom) so that they can rotate after each round.

But the teacher should designate where students go for the first round so that each room has a pair in it. Divide up students so that they are not in the same room as their project team members. You could post assigned rooms and partners ahead of time in a document, or you could simply call out pairs of student names on the screen and assign them to a specific room.

Time the protocol and broadcast messages to switch partners and rooms when time. Jump into rooms to monitor or help students who are confused with the directions, especially when switching rooms for the first time. Run as many rounds as you have time for. I like to do 3-5 rounds.

Gallery Walks are excellent for students to analyze each other’s work. First determine where online you want it posted. The slide gives three options. Be sure to use a tool that can be shared and that allows either written (Google Docs or Slides) or video feedback for comments (Flipgrid). The biggest hangup to avoid is making sure all students have access to each other’s work and commenting rights.

Consider showing Austin’s Butterfly as an example of what effective feedback looks like. I also recommend that students refer to rubric criteria to base their feedback on. Gallery Walks can be done “live” during synchronous time or spread out over a few days (set a deadline).

3 A’s is often used to analyze text, but can be great for feedback too. For feedback on a written document this could be done with comments in an online document.

ABCD Protocol comes from the editorial world when proofing submissions. It can be used asynchronously with comments on written work or live feedback on presentations, prototypes, or other items.

Charrette is an excellent protocol for the middle of a project to get feedback on Next steps. It’s informal and efficient.

Ladder of Feedback is an alternative to the Tuning Protocol and is useful towards the end of a project for in-depth feedback. This slide contains only the student facing steps and sentence stems.

Split project teams into groups of 3 in breakout rooms. The teacher should be the timekeeper and broadcast when to shift to each step. After running 3 rounds so everyone can share, regroup students in their project teams to share feedback received.

Like the Ladder of Feedback, the Tuning Protocol is a robust protocol for final feedback. As above, split project teams into groups of 3 in breakout rooms. The teacher should be the timekeeper and broadcast when to shift to each step. After running 3 rounds so everyone can share, regroup students in their project teams to share feedback received.

Questions? Interested in an SEL infused PBL workshop or consulting?  Connect with me at michaelkaechele.com or @mikekaechele on Twitter.

Remote Community Partnerships in PBL

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This is the sixth of a series of posts about what Project Based Learning infused with Social and Emotional Learning looks like when teaching remotely. Is it the ideal situation? Probably not, but it is the reality that many of us are dealing with. I will share my ideas and what others are doing to hopefully inspire you to action.

Artificial vs. Authentic

Everything is schools tends to be artificial or done for “practice.” Students rarely address original issues, but instead learn about what others have achieved in science, literature, history, and math. The system is designed to teach students a subset of information about what we already “know” to be true. Ignore for a moment, the ridiculous standardization that adults can choose the correct subset of the vast knowledge of the entirety of human existence that is necessary for all children. This pedagogical approach of only learning proven facts is boring and patronizing. Then we wonder why by the time students reach secondary school they aren’t curious? The truth is, they are still curious, just not at school.

Educators are preparing kids for their future, instead of helping them navigate the present. The world has so many problems that the next generation will have to deal with: poverty, hunger, equity, pollution, climate change, wars, and ethic strife to name a few. What if instead of telling students you will have to fix these problems some day, students worked on solutions right now? Why do we so often sell our kids short on what they can do?

What if school was a set of problems to be solved instead of standards to be covered?

So if we have the mindset that students should be addressing meaningful problems instead of mindless worksheets learning what someone else has already figured out, then we must engage in our communities. We do this so that kids can grapple with global issues, but apply solutions locally.

Not all of our students will be Greta Thunburg with a worldwide voice to address their concerns. It is critically important that all of our students do understand that change happens from the collective actions of individuals, not just famous voices. The Civil Rights Movement is as much about the hundreds of thousands who stood up against segregation on buses and at lunch counters as it is about Dr. King and Rosa Parks. The nameless sea of faces who heard the I Have a Dream speech and acted on it are as important as the man who gave it. Your students can make an enormous impact locally in their community that leads to systemic change.

Role of the Community in PBL

So how should you involve the community in Project Based Learning? There are several key roles that the community can play throughout the process. You could invite a guest speaker to launch your entry event by introducing a problem for students to explore. Or invite them during the middle of the project to provide expertise on one of the student Need to Know questions.

Consider finding a group of experts who can coach students throughout the project, giving feedback and expertise. They might be a combination of older students, university students, and professionals. Maybe your hands-on project is better served by partnering with a construction company and having a group of blue collar workers share their craftsmanship. Whatever the fit for your project, when you bring in outside experts you are modeling collaborative learning and that you, the teacher, don’t know everything.

The community might be the audience for the final presentations that students will share their findings with. Traditionally this tends to be a big, public showcase. But it can be just as powerful to present to a smaller panel of experts who can give students meaningful feedback. This could be done live in a video conference call or on demand via videos with feedback. (Flipgrid is a great tool for this). Ideally, involve the community throughout the project from start to finish for greatest impact.

The community can serve as the source of the project. Matt McCullough visits local businesses and asks them to give him problems that students can help solve. He is not asking for their support or resources so much as offering to provide a service to them. One of my favorite examples is when his elementary school collaboratively investigated which potato a local business should plant next. Students from kindergarten through fourth grade worked on different aspects of the problem. They were not just researching for a local farm, but a business cultivating thousands of acres throughout the midwest and the east coast. Upon conclusion, the fourth graders presented their findings to over 100 shareholders who flew into their corporate summit. Check out the video to see the culmination and imagine how these students felt.

So who should your students engage with? The short answer is everyone. Practicing the SEL skill of Social Awareness, students should be getting multiple perspectives on any problem that they are considering and practicing empathy. They can engage with other students at different grade levels or other schools (think penpals using video conferencing), parents, local businesses, the chamber of commerce, and non-profit organizations. They can network with colleges and local professionals who are experts in a topic they are investigating. Student could connect with public service workers such as police, fire, and local government officials to understand current policies and advocate for changes they find necessary. Surveys could go out to the entire community literally making everyone the target audience.


One takeaway from Covid is that everyone in the world knows how to video conference. Furthermore, a larger number of people are working from home than ever before and are willing to “visit” your classroom. It is actually easier now than before when they would have to take time off work, travel, and rearrange their whole day. Now partners can simply join classrooms at any time.

The community doesn’t need to be live either. Students and adults can communicate asynchronously to ask questions or give feedback. That is the way that adults work most of the time. We all know how to use email, text, and social media to connect with people. There are thousands of apps and websites that students also could use. None of them are gamechangers, but many of them are helpful. I personally prefer the Google suite of Docs, Forms for surveys, and Slides, but it literally does not matter! Pick one or two tools that your students have access to and you are comfortable with and run with them.

It’s really not about the tools at all, but about a mindset that sees community partnerships as a vital piece of the curriculum, as important as assessment, differentiation, and standards.

We have the technology. We know how to use it. Step out of your comfort zone and network with your community to find experts and resources for your students to address issues that matter. Let’s move school from artificial to authentic.

Questions? Interested in a PBL workshop or consulting?  Connect with me at michaelkaechele.com or @mikekaechele on Twitter.