3 Dimensions of Understanding

Artifact Box Protocol

Adapted from:
National School Reform Initiative

This protocol supports groups of teachers in examining the culture of a school/team/organization.

This process works best for synchronous meetings. For locally situated teams, the process is clearly laid out in the document at the link above.

Each participant should bring an artifact to a face to face meeting that represents the culture of the school/organization/team with which they are working.
If the meeting is web based, each participant should select an image that represents the artifact they would have selected for a face to face meeting.

In a webinar setting:
Prior to the webinar:
  • Have participants share their images via a Google Doc.
  • Then ask them to review the artifacts and select the one they will share observations in the webinar by placing their name next to it
  • Provide the participants with the Artifact Box Protocol Notes sheet to record their ideas prior to the webinar.

During the webinar:
  • Use the web tour to display the Google Doc with the images.
  • Describing the Work (20 minutes)
    • Each participant chooses one artifact to share. Each participant should take approximately 2-3 minutes to:
      • Describe the artifact.
      • Describe your assumption about what the artifact means, demonstrates about the culture of the school.
      • Describe the questions you have about the artifact.
    • Participants should try not to choose the same artifact to share. This is not time to debate or question each other, it is time for each participant to share perspectives and questions about the artifacts. Observations should be made in statement form, without judgment.
  • Raising Questions (10 minutes)
    • Participants pursue questions raised by themselves and their colleagues. Group members ask questions about the artifacts that have come up for them during the previous steps. i.e.
      • Why do I see these artifacts in this way?
      • What does this tell me about what is important to me? To the learning of students in this school?
    • Again, this is not time to question or challenge each other. It is time to learn from our colleagues perspectives. The facilitator takes notes on these questions and comments.
  • Discussion (15 minutes)
    • Based on the artifacts and the questions raised, discuss thoughts about children’s learning or the culture of the school.
  • Reflection (5 minutes)
    • On a new whiteboard, the group reflects together on how they experienced this session of looking at artifacts
      • What did you see in the artifacts that were interesting or surprising?
      • What about the process helped you to see and learn these things?
      • What did you learn from listening to your colleagues?
      • What new perspectives did your colleagues provide?
      • What questions about the school did looking at these artifacts raise for you?