15. EduProtocols in Social Studies

Ask just about any teacher and they’ll tell you that one of the most valuable resources we have is time. It seems as though we are always looking for ways to save time, or to spend it better so that we can balance our work/life roles. It was this search for balance and time that first led me to Marlena Hebern & Jon Corippo and their book The EduProtocol Field Guide. from their site, “EduProtocols are instructional lesson frames that are designed to engage students in learning through critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity.” The adaptability and ease of use of the frameworks got my mind spinning as to how I can use them in my social studies class–and then I came across Adam Moler on Twitter and my excitement grew even more.

EduProtocols are instructional lesson frames that are designed to engage students in learning through critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity.


Adam is finishing his 6th year teaching Social Studies at his alma mater in New Richmond, Ohio. His goal for teaching social studies is creating a fun experience for all students. He’s passionate about creating a student-centered room with choice, less worksheets, and getting students more involved with learning history. He runs EduProtocols on a consistent basis and has seen the results – more feedback in real time, students using the 4 C’s, eliminating worksheets, and getting back more time in class.

Why EduProtocols?

Throughout this episode you’ll hear Adam discuss a variety of reasons why he loves using EduProtocols and even some specific examples from his Social Studies classes, but here is a quick overview of Adam’s thoughts:

  • Simplicity: Anyone has ever tried using EduProtocols can tell you that they are incredibly simple and easy to implement (you can make them far more intricate as you get comfortable). The protocols are easy for you to create and for your students to do so you’ll find yourself readily using them.
  • Consistency: We all know that the more students do something, the better they get. Like any drill or practice in a sport or an art, teachers that consistently use EduProtocols in their classes will see an increased ability to do the activities by their students. The power in this cannot be overstated since it will free up more time in your classes since you are not constantly explaining directions. Adam goes so far as to call this his 5th C.
  • Feedback & Connection: Finally, you’ll hear Adam discuss how much time the protocols save him once he front-loads his work as a teacher. This allows him to spend more time providing meaningful feedback to his students and connecting with them as individuals.
Three “Go To’s” for Adam

As you’ll see in the resources section, Adams uses a whole host of EduProtocols in his social studies classes, but here are three simple ones he recommends using in your class.

  • Sketch & Tell: This one is pretty straight forward and is what it sounds like–in this protocol the students use content being discussed in class to create some sort of visual representation of the material (a drawing, Google Drawing, Play-Doh sculpture, etc.) and then explains how their work represents the materials being discussed. Adam discusses a really cool activity using a video called “The Town Dump” and Play-Doh for the beginning of the school year.
  • The Fast & The Curious: This is one of the “staples” of most teachers using EduProtocols as it allows them to teach things like vocabulary in a simple and engaging way without using too much class time. We all know how it important it is for students to know vocabulary and jargon before we can move them along to some deeper questions–but we also know the challenge that teaching vocabulary can be. Using this protocol, Adam has his students use games like Quizizz or Blooket to learn the material quickly.
  • Cyber Sandwich: You’ll hear Adam mention this protocol a few times throughout the interview and he’ll go into some details explaining it later on in the discussion. However, the cyber sandwich is a simple and effective way to get students of any age engaging with content, doing their own research & comparing and contrasting events or ideas in your class.
Adam’s Tips to Get Started
  • Start Small: This is something you’ll hear from nearly anyone who uses EduProtocols and it’s key–start small. Both Adam and I shared a common experience of trying to do too much too fast. Lear from our mistakes, pick one simple protocol to try first and then move forward.
  • Start Silly: Whenever using a protocol of the first time, Adam recommends pairing them with non-essential content, and maybe even something goofy. By taking the pressure off the students to learn BOTH new content and a new protocol you will enhance the likelihood that students will learn the lesson framework so you can easily use it again in the future.
  • Ask for Help: Lastly, Adam pointed out the importance of asking others for help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people like Adam, Stephanie Howell, Megan Ferne, or even Marlena Hebern & Jon Corippro for help. You’ll be surprised how quickly people will get back to you to help!
Links & Resources
  • EduProtocols Homepage: Be sure to check out the website for EduProtocols. You will find a vast array of resources including templates and tutorials to help you.
  • EduProtocols Smashing: This blog post, written by Adam, explains how you can combine multiple EduProtocols for some engaging and effective lessons.
  • A History Teacher’s Favorite EduProtocols: Another post from his blog, this link will give you some great information as to how and why you can use some of Adam’s favorite EduProtocols in social studies.
  • Adam’s EduProtocols : This is a link taking you to some great examples of EduProtocols Adam uses in his classes that he shared at a conference.
  • Alternatives to Fill-in-the Blank Maps: Here are some activities you can try if you, like Adam, hate having your students do fill-in-the-blank style map activities

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