NSRF Protocols and Activities… from A to Z

Since 1994, the National School Reform Faculty has created and refined more than 200 protocols and activities to use in Critical Friends Group® communities, classrooms, meetings, and beyond. Each one is designed to help you arrive at a specific desired outcome, efficiently and effectively. Our oldest, “original” protocols* are available to you as downloadable PDF files through the open-access list provided below. If you know the name of the protocol or activity you wish to use, scroll down the list to find it by its title.

If you have an active regular membership or coaches’ membership, you have access to the extended Protocol Libraries which provide updated and refined protocols, activities, and additional resources with focused search options and distinct categories, as well as protocol/activity overviews and definers.

Our Open-Access Materials list

*Disclaimer: Open-Access or “original” materials (with the old logo) were largely written in the 1990s and early 2000s and reflect cultural norms of the time. As such, please be aware that outdated conventions occur in these texts, such as the use of “him/her” and “s/he” as opposed to “they/them”. We have long since modified our protocols and activities to make them easier to understand and use for people new to the work. We also began using they/them as singular pronouns throughout our work. (You may read about the pronouns transition in this 2013 edition of our newsletter.)
For these reasons, we encourage you to purchase an Annual Membership in the NSRF to have access to newer materials. We also encourage you to enroll in CFG Coaches’ Training to attain access to all of the updated materials and to develop a more thorough, experiential understanding. We have plans to update our open access materials in the near future.

Open-Access Protocols, Activities, and Resources

Affinity Mapping

Appreciative Inquiry: A Protocol to Support Professional Visitation

Art Shack

ATLAS — Learning From Student Work

ATLAS Looking at Data

Attributes of a Learning Community

Barriers or Bridges: A Matter of Perspective and Attitude

Becoming One Community

Blind Count

Blind Polygon

Block Party

Blooming Questions

Broken Squares

Chalk Talk

Change in Practice Protocol


Check in Circle

Choosing CFG Tools and Strategies

Classroom Equity Writing Prompt

Classroom Slice “Day in the Life” Student Journal

Classroom Slice “Day In the Life” Teacher Journal

Classroom Slice of Student Work Checklist

Collaborative Assessment Conference

Collaborative Ghost Walk

Columbus Slice Multi-age Groups

Community Agreements

Compass Points Activity


Considerations for Responsive Facilitation

Considering Evidence Protocol

Constructivist for Adult Work

Constructivist Learning Groups

Constructivist Listening Dyad – “The Dyad”

Constructivist Tuning


Consultancy — Adapted for Examining Student Work

Consultancy Dilemmas

Continuum Dialogue

Courageous Conversations Compass

Cows, Ducks and Chickens

Creating An Action Plan

Creating Metaphors

Critical Friends Group Purpose and Work – Updated 2020

Critical Incidents Protocol

Cycle of Inquiry

Cycle of Inquiry for Professional Learning Community Activities

Data Driven Dialogue

Describing Student Work: A Slice of Writing

Describing Students’ Work

Description of Open Space

Descriptive Consultancy

Descriptive Review of a Child

Diversity Rounds

Equity Perspectives: Creating Space for Making Meaning on Equity Issues

Equity Protocol

Equity Stances Activity

Examining Assessments

Examining Student Work: A Constructivist Protocol

Examples of Debriefing Questions at the End of a Looking at Student Work Session

Examples of Focusing Questions for Looking at Student Work Sessions

Facilitating Learning, Logistics and Longevity

Facilitation Scenarios Activity

Facilitator Critical Friend Feedback Form

Feedback Carousel

Feedback Nightmares

Feedback Principles

Final Word

First Ask, Then Listen: How to Get Your Students To Help You Teach Them Better: A Teachers’ Guide

First Classroom Visits

Five Whys for Inquiry

Focus Point Debriefing

Focus/Framing Question Exercise

Forming a Triangle

Forming Ground Rules

Four A’s Text

Framing Consultancy Dilemmas and Consultancy Questions

Further Thoughts About Learning from Student Work

Futures Protocol

Ghost Visit

Glossary of Common Terms

Goal Setting in CFG communities

Good Questions

Group Juggle

Guide for Bringing Student Work

Guide to Using 7 of the Student Work/Problem Solvings

Hog Call

Honoring Differences

Ice Breakers and Warm-Ups

Individual Monthly Action Plan

Individual Monthly Action Plan for Groups

Indoor Volleyball

Inquiry Circles: A Protocol for Professional Inquiry

Interrogating the Slice



It Takes a Village

Jigsaw Description

Keep It Up

Learning From Speakers

Learning From Student Work Form – Context

Learning From Student Work Form – Documentation

Learning From Student Work Form – Feedback

Learning From Student Work Form – Reflection

Lens as a Paradigm

Liar’s Poker

Line Up

Logistics for Open Space

Longfellow “Day in the Life” Special Area Teachers Journal

Longfellow Slice Grade Level Session

Longfellow Slice Information Sheet

Longfellow Slice School Wide Session

Looking at Patterns in Student Work

Looking at Student Work

Looking at Student Work Team Report

Looking at Student Work: Building in the Habit of Looking at Equity

Making Meaning

Making Meaning: The Storytelling Version

Methods for Learning From Student Work

Microlab Guidelines

Microlab Suggestions


Microlabs on CFG Purpose and Coach’s Role

Mine Walk

Missed Cues: A Reflective Activity

Mississippi Hot Chocolate Swamp

Modeling the Consultancy Using an Interactive Fishbowl

Multiple Perspectives


Norms for LFSW Sessions

Notes on Open Space

Notes on the Collaborative Assessment Conference

Observation #1: Video Camera

Observation #2: Focus Point

Observation #3: Interesting Moments

Observation #4: Teaming

Observation #5: Observer As Learner

Observation #6: Person Observed as Coach

Observation #7: Silent Debriefing

Observation #8: Self Observation

Orchard Cove

Pair Communication: Active-Listening Exercise


Passing On Good Advice

Passion Profiles

Passion Profiles Activity

Peeling the Onion: Developing a Problem

Peer Coaching: Observer as Coach

Ping Pong: a Consultancy for Groups

Pocket Guide to Probing Questions


Pre-Conference Guide 

Principles for Looking at Student Work

Proactive Behavior Change Interventions

Probing Questions Exercise

Process of Developing Success a for Reflection and Analysis ATLAS Learning Communities

Process of Developing Understanding: a for Reflection and Analysis

Professional Learning Communities Survey

Professional Learning Communities Survey Exercise

Profile of a Student Activity

Profile of a Student Activity small group

Profile of a Student Activity: Alternative Students

ProMISE: using the Courageous Conversation Compass with a Text

Protocol for “Columbus Family Academy Slice”

Protocol for “Day in the Life”

Protocol for “Longfellow Slice”

Protocol Matching Activity

Provocative Prompts for Equity

Qualities of Educational Leadership Exercise

Quality Quest

Questions and Assumptions

Questions and Assumptions World Cafe Style

Quinn’s Six Questions

Quotes for Closings

Rationale for Protocols

Realms of Concern and Influence

Reflections on Adapting/Creating Protocols

Reflections Sheets

Reflective Guide

Right Family

Sample Sets of Questions for School/Grade Level Slice

Save the Last Word For Me

School Walk

Scrambled Sentences

Ship Into Port


SMP Guide to Good Probing Questions

SMP Modified Consultancy

SMP Probing Questions Exercise

Some Guidelines for Learning From Student Work

Spider’s Web

Standards in Practice: Standards and Looking at Student Work

Student Observation: Focus Point

Student Observation: Interesting Moments

Student Observation: Just My Kids

Student Observation: Observer Learner 

Student Profiles for Profile of a Student Activity

Student Staffing

Student Work Context Sheet

Student Work Gallery

Success Analysis

Success Analysis for Administrative Teams

Success Analysis for Creative Learning Communities

Success Analysis for Individuals

Success Analysis for Leadership Teams

Success Analysis for Reflection and Analysis

Success Analysis with Reflective Questions

Suggestions for Bringing a Dilemma

Suggestions for Bringing Student Work

Tea Party – See Block Party: A Pre-Reading Text-Based Activity

Text Rendering Activity

Text-Based Seminar

Text-Based Seminar Guidelines

Thinking Out Of The Box

Thirty-Minute Protocols 

Three Levels of Text

Together We Can Make a Difference – Classroom Design for Beginning Teambuilding

Tower of Brahm


Tuning for Equity

Tuning Guidelines


Tuning-Tuning a Plan

Up and Down the Mountain

Uranium Mine

Village of 100 People

Wagon Wheels Brainstorming

Warp Speed

Water Balloon Volleyball

What, So What, Now What

Why Activity

Writing Workshop Feedback

Zones of Comfort, Risk and Danger