Look 2 Learning Walkthrough Protocol – I Drank The Kool Aid!

We were fortunate to host walkthrough guru John Antonetti yesterday at BHS as we attempt to expand the impact of the Classroom Walkthrough protocol that we began as a district last year. The more time I spend listening to the meaningful conversations teachers have after visiting their colleagues classrooms, the more I am convinced that we should be focusing more on walkthroughs.

Instead of worrying so much about state tests that measure low-level thinking, we should be providing time for teachers to engage in these walks so that we can develop this invaluable source of internal data.  Our focus at BHS continues to be on three areas:

  1. Is the objective of the lesson clear to the students?
  2. What is the level of critical thinking? (Low, Middle, or High on Bloom’s Taxonomy)
  3. What is the level of student engagement? (Engaged, Compliant, or off-task)

The video below was a discussion that took place today between John and our Superintendent,  Eric Conti about the the first focal point during our debriefing.

The second and third areas are the ones that I am most interested in.  Our classroom walkthrough data from over 100 classroom visits last year showed a lower percentage of middle and higher level Bloom’s than we would have liked.  In addition, we found that we had a tremendous amount of compliance (which is not a bad thing) with low levels of engagement.

As some of the conversation quickly turned to the validity of the data, I asked John whether that is the most important aspect of this undertaking.  Even if we were off by 10-20% in our findings, I still think that the numbers are not something we would have been satisfied with. In addition, I think the whole idea that we are having deep conversations about the qualities of an engaged classroom and evidence of critical thinking that rise above the lowest level of Bloom’s are significant and out of the ordinary. The video below discusses this issue.  In fact, John passed along the fact that in over 10,000 classrooms walks that he has made more than 80% fall into the low level.

For me the goal of these walkthroughs should be for us to create a source of internal data that is generated by our staff.  We should be the experts on our school and have a better handle on the type of learning that is taking place within our walls.  In my estimation, that is not typical in our schools today.  We need to change that.

Honestly, I can’t see a downside here! Is it just because I drank the Kool Aid?

If you would like more on this protocol, here is a link to a video on the Solution Tree You Tube Channel where John and Jim Garver discuss what makes their walkthrough protocol different from most others.


  1. susan price said:

    I always benefit greatly from the Walk 2 Learn teams. I get great insight into how our students are learning, and I get great ideas from my colleagues. I observed a Language Arts class with a fabulous lesson plan. There were pictures posted on the walls in the classroom. Students had to get up and view these various pics and then go back to the vocab book at their desks. The goal was for them to make a connection from the picture to the vocab word. I loved this idea. I, too, am doing a new vocab lesson with one of my classes. I went home to gather about 10 objects which could be related to the current vocab. Today I had the students select an item from the bag. I asked them to identify the corresponding vocab word. After correclty identifying the word based on the physical object, the students had to put the vocab word in a sentence.
    I noticed that the students in the class which I observed were engaged and interested in the lesson. My students today were also engaged and more motivated to learn the words. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, or in my case, a sentence correctly constructed in the target language.

    November 16, 2010
  2. Jim Ellis said:

    Patrick…would be interested to know if you share the data with the teachers you observe or if you use the data for leadership meetings. I like the quick “look fors” and put together a similar one.

    November 16, 2010
    • Jim – We share the data with the whole staff. In my opinion, data that is collected and discussed by a small group of administrators seldom has a profound impact on teaching and learning.

      November 18, 2010
  3. Jason Buell said:

    Thanks for this. I’ve been thinking a lot about classroom walkthroughs and this post and the other links have helped.

    Question from the first video…
    “Posting an objective….. is the least effective of the four ways kids learn and understand the objective”

    What were the three others (and the most effective) ones?

    November 18, 2010
  4. […] have been dabbling with a Walkthrough Protocol at Burlington High School called Look 2 Learning which I wrote about back in November. As we commit to a greater commitment to this model, I wanted to share a couple of conversations […]

    January 4, 2011
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