Tuning Protocol

Type of strategy: CollaborationProcessing

Learning styles: IS: Introversion and Sensing

Receive feedback and fine-tune projects or issues.


This collaborative reflection helps educators/students to design and refine their lessons/assignments. To take part in the Tuning Protocol, educators bring samples of either own work or their students’ work on paper and, whenever possible, on video, as well as some of the materials they have created to support student performance, such as assignment descriptions and scoring rubrics. In a circle of about six to ten “critical friends” (usually other educators), a facilitator guides the group through the process and keeps time. The presenting educator, or team of educators, describes the context for the student work (the task or project) - uninterrupted by questions or comments from participants.

1. Introduction (5 minutes)

  • Facilitator briefly introduces protocol goals, guidelines, and schedule
  • Participants briefly introduce themselves (if necessary)

2. Presentation (15 minutes): The presenter has an opportunity to share the context for the student work:

  • Information about the students and/or the class — what the students tend to be like, where they are in school, where they are in the year
  • Assignment or prompt that generated the student work
  • Student learning goals or standards that inform the work
  • Samples of student work — photocopies of work, video clips, etc. — with student names removed
  • Evaluation format — scoring rubric and/or assessment criteria, etc.
  • Focusing question for feedback
  • Participants are silent; no questions are entertained at this time.

3. Clarifying Questions (5 minutes)

  • Participants have an opportunity to ask “clarifying” questions in order to get information that may have been omitted in the presentation that they feel would help them to understand the context for the student work. Clarifying questions are matters of “fact.”
  • The facilitator should be sure to limit the questions to those that are “clarifying,” judging which questions more properly belong in the warm/cool feedback section.

4. Examination of Student Work Samples (15 minutes)

  • Participants look closely at the work, taking notes on where it seems to be in tune with the stated goals, and where there might be a problem. Participants focus particularly on the presenter’s focusing question.
  • Presenter is silent; participants do this work silently.

5. Pause to reflect on warm and cool feedback (2-3 minutes)

  • Participants take a couple of minutes to reflect on what they would like to contribute to the feedback
  • session.
  • Presenter is silent; participants do this work silently.

6. Warm and Cool Feedback (15 minutes)

  • Participants share feedback with each other while the presenter is silent. The feedback generally begins with a few minutes of warm feedback, moves on to a few minutes of cool feedback (sometimes phrased in the form of reflective questions), and then moves back and forth between warm and cool feedback.
  • Warm feedback may include comments about how the work presented seems to meet the desired goals; cool feedback may include possible “disconnects,” gaps, or problems. Often participants offer ideas or suggestions for strengthening the work presented.
  • The facilitator may need to remind participants of the presenter’s focusing question, which should be
  • posted for all to see.
  • Presenter is silent and takes notes.

7. Reflection (5 minutes)

  • Presenter speaks to those comments/questions he or she chooses while participants are silent.
  • This is not a time to defend oneself, but is instead a time for the presenter to reflect aloud on those ideas or questions that seemed particularly interesting.
  • Facilitator may intervene to focus, clarify, etc.

8. Debrief (5 minutes)

  • Facilitator-led discussion of this tuning experience.


Tuning Protocol

Submitted by: Jennifer Arns