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The Collaborative or Interpersonal Mode

Three students talking and collaborating around a device

Strategies and Protocols to Support Student Discussion and Collaboration

Focus on academic language development and content learning

The strategies and protocols below provide opportunities for students to engage in extended discourse, exchange information and ideas, interact and collaborate orally, co-create meaning, etc., about content.

In the descriptions of each strategy and protocol, there are detailed, step-by-step instructions and examples. Additionally, the purpose of each strategy and protocol is clearly stated. As you are planning classroom instruction using these resources, keep your instructional purpose in mind to select strategies and protocols that are aligned to that purpose and will support your learning goals for students.

Gallery Walk

A gallery walk encourages academic language conversations about a content topic in response to prompts provided by the teacher or to work that has been produced by groups of students. In this variation, it encourages and develops students’ awareness of what constitutes quality work.

Gallery Walk

Give One, Get One

This protocol provides an opportunity to review and summarize important ideas/key learning about a topic of study and it supports development of oral communication skills.

Give One, Get One

Reciprocal Teaching

Reciprocal teaching encourages students to monitor their comprehension as they read and take responsibility for their learning, providing a supportive environment for readers as they engage with each other to make meaning of text. Additionally, reciprocal teaching supports metacognition as students think about their thought processes as they read and perform their reciprocal teaching roles.

Reciprocal Teaching

The World Café

The World Café provides a format for students to discuss a topic or issue with a group of peers while rotating the leadership role. Among many other benefits, the World Café highlights the power of human conversation, fosters active engagement and collaborative dialogue, supports the development of listening and speaking skills, and promotes respect and understanding for the diverse ideas, perspectives, and insights of others.

The World Café

Last Word or Final Word

The last word protocol develops students’ understanding of how their comprehension of a text may be supported, enhanced, and/or modified by the ideas and perspectives of others. It also supports metacognition as students reflect on their understanding of the text in relation to their peers’ understanding. 

Last Word or Final Word

Jigsaw Projects and Reading Jigsaw

Jigsaw projects and reading help students learn cooperation as group members share responsibility for each other's learning. It supports development of critical thinking and social skills, and it promotes active listening, communication, and problem-solving.

Jigsaw Projects and Reading Jigsaw

Strategies and Protocols to Support Student Discussion and Collaboration About Language and Vocabulary 

Focus on academic language development and content learning

In the language classroom, whether it is English language, dual language, or world languages, collaborative academic conversations focused on discussing language features and use are critical in order to increase students’ metalinguistic awareness and to develop their ability to use language. “Discussions about language do not focus solely on grammatical structures or vocabulary but expand students' comprehension of all levels and types of language, including text and discourse level understandings.” (CA ELA/ELD Framework, Ch. 2, p.116)

These discussions about language are always meaningful and in context. It is essential that instruction about language does not take place in isolation (as grammatical drills, for example) but in the context of meaningful tasks within the three modes of communication. “Language structure and form should be learned in authentic contexts rather than through contrived drills in a language workbook.” (Hill and Flynn, 2006)

Sort and Label

Sort and label is an engaging and interactive task that focuses students on content vocabulary, key ideas, and concepts that will be developed in a unit or text. Sorting and labeling cards develops oracy by giving students a structure to have meaningful conversations with one another as they engage with the content.

Sort and Label

The Vocabulary Bridge

The purpose of the vocabulary learning bridge strategy and protocols is to provide students with multiple opportunities to build academic vocabulary in both languages used in the dual language classroom.

The Vocabulary Bridge (World Languages and Dual Language Learners)

Vocabulary Learning Through Marzanos’ Six Steps and the Four Square Organizer

Vocabulary knowledge, according to research,  is a critical factor underlying language proficiency and literacy development, including disciplinary literacy. Language learners need explicit systematic vocabulary instruction. This vocabulary learning task reinforces explicitly taught vocabulary by giving students time to practice the vocabulary in meaningful ways.

Vocabulary Learning

The Bridge

The bridge has a dual purpose. It helps students transfer what they learn in one language to the other language, and it supports them as they make connections about what they are learning in both languages. The bridge also helps students engage in a metalinguistic analysis of the two languages.

The Bridge (World Languages and Dual Language Learners)

Language Investigation

The language investigation strategy engages students in the study of language functions and their associated linguistic forms and structures to build a deeper understanding of the way English or the target language works. This strategy gives you an excellent opportunity to organize student discussions about language.

Language Investigation

Sentence Unpacking or Deconstruction

The sentence unpacking or deconstruction strategy allows students to explicitly attend to language features and structures within a complex sentence to consequently build a deeper understanding of the way English or the target language works. This strategy gives you an excellent opportunity to organize student discussions about language.

Sentence Unpacking or Deconstruction

Strategies to Strengthen Connections and Engage in Social-Emotional Learning

The development of oracy in the classroom through intentional planning of abundant interaction opportunities promotes the development of social and emotional skills, positive relationships, and adaptability to the social context. The strategies and protocols in this toolkit will guide educators to plan interactive tasks that require students to reflect and share diverse perspectives, listen and develop empathy and respect for others, and work collaboratively towards a common goal, in equitable and accountable ways. See the Importance of Oral Interaction and Social Emotional Learning.

Games for Language Practice and Team Building

The games in this section are engaging cooperative strategies that provide multiple opportunities for language practice. Additionally, these games may be used for students to get to know one another at the beginning of the year and to build and strengthen classroom culture throughout the year.  

See the following games in the Games for Language Practice and Team Building section:

  • “Find Someone Who…”
  • Card Matching
  • Name That Picture
  • Role Play

Games for Language Practice

Four Corners Protocol for Social and Emotional Learning

This version of the four corners protocol promotes student engagement, active listening, oral communication, critical thinking, and decision-making. It provides a structure for students to reflect on their own viewpoints and perspectives and to dialogue and learn about viewpoints and perspectives that may differ from their own.

Four Corners Protocol

Collaborative Identity Poster

The creation of a collaborative identity poster provides students with an opportunity to reflect on and understand the different facets that make up their individual and collective identities. The collaborative aspect of the task promotes the development of positive relationships with peers as students learn about the different components of their partner’s identity.

Collaborative Identity Poster

Interpretive Mode

Find ideas for how to support your students in understanding, interpreting, and analyzing what they hear, read, or view.

Explore this Mode

Collaborative or Interpersonal Mode

Find ideas for how to support your students in interacting, collaborating, and negotiating meaning.

Productive or Presentational Mode

Find ideas for how to support your students in presenting information to diverse audiences.

Explore this Mode


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This content is made possible by a grant from the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE).

The Oracy Toolkit resources were produced by the San Diego County Office of Education, MEGA Department (2021). The digital resource was produced by the San Diego County Office of Education, Innovation Division (2021).