Surfacing significant ideas

Promote conversation around the main ideas of a reading that has significance to teachers. Foster shared understanding of main ideas.

Duration – 38 minutes

Timing and description for 'Surfacing significant ideas' protocol
Timing Description

Prior to the conversation

Everyone reads the same text and highlights two passages that represent the most significant ideas.

Everyone should be prepared to share these passages and way why are they are significant to them.

If the text is short, the group may choose to read it during the meeting.


2 minutes

A facilitator and timekeeper are designated. The norms and goal of the process are reviewed.

Write the quote or passage

1 minute

Each person writes their short passages and posts them somewhere visible to the whole group (sticky notes on a wall or digital alternative such as Microsoft Whiteboard, Jam Board)

Be sure to indicate the page number beside the passage.

Present the significant ideas

30 minutes

One person begins by presenting one significant idea from the text, stating why it’s significant and what implication it has for their work.

Members of the group add to this idea after the presenter speaks.

Each person has up to 7 minutes to discuss the significant idea.

This process is repeated until each person has presented a significant idea. If a significant idea is connected to another person’s idea, the short passages should be moved together.

After everyone has discussed their idea – and if time is available – the second set of significant ideas may be presented and discussed.


3 minutes

The group summarises what they have learned together.

If there are other small groups discussing the same text, these groups may report one insight to the larger group.


2 minutes

Group members comment briefly on how the process supported their understanding and how they might improve on it.

Adapted from Glaude, C (2011) Protocols for Professional Learning Conversations. Cultivating the Art and Discipline. Bloomington: Solution Tree Press

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