Looking At Students' Thinking (LAST) Protocol

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I.  Getting started (5 minutes)

  • The group chooses a facilitator who will make sure the group stays focused on the particular issue addressed in each stepThe group also chooses a documenter who will capture the groups’ thinking and process. This can be done on chart paper, by taking notes, or through video.

  • The presenting teacher or teachers briefly explain the task and review the types of thinking the activity was meant to reveal. For example, in the Think-Puzzle-Explore routine students are bringing forth prior knowledge and possible misconceptions, displaying curiosity and the ability to make connections through questions, and exhibiting what they know about conducting and carrying out inquiry.

  • The presenting teachers pass out the collection of selected work or show a short video clip from a classroom episode. The participants observe or read the work in silence, perhaps making brief notes about aspects of it that they particularly notice.

II.  Describing the work (5 minutes)

  • The facilitator asks the group, “What do you see?”

  • Group members respond without making interpretations or evaluations about the quality of the work, or statements of personal preference.

  • If evaluations or interpretations emerge, the facilitator asks the person to describe the evidence on which those comments are based

III. Speculating about students’ thinking (10 minutes)

  • Facilitator asks the group, “Where in the work do you see insights into students’ thinking? What does this reveal about how students are collectively and individually making sense of ideas, putting information together, organizing thoughts, reasoning, and so on?

IV. Asking questions about the work (10 minutes)

  • The facilitator asks the group, “What questions does this work raise for you?”

  • Group members state any questions they have about the work, the child, the assignment, the circumstances under which the work was carried out, and so on

  • Individuals may want to make notes about these questions; however it is not necessary to respond to the questions at this time. The focus should remain on generating questions and identifying issues. 

V.  Discussing implications for teaching and learning (10 minutes)

  • The facilitator invites all participants, including the presenting teacher, to share any thoughts they have about their own teaching, students’ learning and thinking or ways to support these particular students in future instruction. A possible question to ask is, “Where might this work go next to build on and extend students’ thinking?”

VII.  Reflecting on the LAST Protocol (5 minutes)

  • The group reflects together on their experiences of or reactions to the protocol as a whole or to particular parts of it.  To the extent it is appropriate, the group may look over the documentation that was done throughout the protocol or the documenter may present highlights to the group.

  • The group may make decisions about and recommendations for their next meeting.  The group should determine who will present at the next session.

  • The documentation of the group process should remain available to members of the group for review and reflection.

VIII.  Thanking the presenting teacher

  • The session concludes with acknowledgment of and thanks to the presenting teacher.