Skip Navigation

Using Protocols to Enhance Student Collaboration

Main Core Tie

English Language Arts Grade 9-10
Writing Standard 5

Additional Core Ties

English Language Arts Grade 9-10
Speaking and Listening Standard 1 a.

English Language Arts Grade 9-10
Speaking and Listening Standard 1 b.

English Language Arts Grade 9-10
Speaking and Listening Standard 1 c.

Time Frame

1 class periods of 30 minutes each

Group Size

Small Groups

Life Skills

  • Thinking & Reasoning
  • Communication




Students use a Tuning Protocol to give and receive peer-to-peer feedback on student writing in a structured, safe environment.


Copies of student writing
Copies of Tuning Protocol

Background for Teachers

Student participation in a structured process of peer-to-peer collaboration can be intimidating and anxiety producing for the student presenting work for feedback.

Having a set of shared guidelines helps everybody participate in a manner that is respectful as well as conducive to helpful feedback.

The peer tuning protocol is an adaptation of a protocol that was originally developed as a means for collaborators to receive feedback and fine-tune their developing work, including exhibitions, portfolios and design projects. Since its trial run in 1992, the Tuning Protocol has been widely used and adapted for educational purposes in and among schools across the country.

Student Prior Knowledge

Students will need a clear understanding of the expectations for classroom and small group conversations/collaboration.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  • Students will be able to frame focusing questions to guide their work.
  • Students will be able to participate effectively and meaningfully in classroom and student collaboration conversations.

Instructional Procedures

  1. Introduction:
    After handing out copies of the Tuning Protocol for Providing Feedback on Student Work, the teacher briefly introduces protocol goals, guidelines, and schedule

  2. Focus/Framing Question Exercise:
    Ask students to write in their journals about a dilemma or a question they have about their writing/work sample. Tell them to pay particular attention to the formation of their focus question for student feedback.

  3. Ask for a volunteer to begin the process of sharing work and eliciting feedback. Distribute copies of the student's work to all participants.

  4. Form student groups of 4-5 students.

  5. Carefully select the facilitator/recorder for each group.

  6. Begin the protocol.

  7. Debrief the process with whole group.

    Strategies for Diverse Learners

    The Tuning Protocol can be adapted according to student need: provide the struggling student with appropriate sentence frames that can be used in academic populations. Gifted students can be used to facilitate protocols and to help others frame focus questions.


    Use with projects, portfolios, student proposals.


    School Reform Initiative:

Created: 05/06/2013
Updated: 02/05/2018