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Classroom Protocols in Action: Back-to-Back and Face-to-Face

This video shows primary students using the Back-to-Back and Face-to-Face protocol as a simple and fun way for all students to get a chance to move, think, talk, and learn from others. The teacher first has students model: stand back-to-back with a partner, listen to the question and think, turn face-to-face, taking turns speaking and listening, then turning back-to-back. The class next practices with an easy question from personal experience, then with one that is text-based. This video is narrated by students, and can be shown to students to help them learn this simple routine for productive conversations.


- Snakes have existed for about 125 million years. Throughout history, some people have believed snakes have special...

- Everybody knows that school is more fun when students get to move around the room and use their bodies and talk with each other about what they are thinking and reading about.

- Back-to-Back Face-to-Face is a great way to do that.

- [Teacher] Three, two, one.

- I think snakes live in Australia.

- Africa, Asia.

- Okay, so I’m gonna look for two volunteers who are gonna help and they’re gonna go in the middle in the fishbowl. Everybody is gonna have their eyes on it.

- [Trinity] It’s a good idea to go over how to be safe and what the steps are in Back-to-Back Face-to-Face.

- [Gideon] The first step is to find your partner and stand back-to-back.

- [Trinity] The second step is listen to the question.

- What is your favorite thing to do in the summer?

- [Trinity] And this is really important. Think about your answer.

- [Gideon] The third step is to turn face-to-face.

- [Teacher] Three, two, one.

- [Trinity] The fourth step is sharing. Taking turns, and speaking and listening.

- Mine is ride my bike.

- [Gideon] And the fifth step is to turn back-to-back.

- Nice job. Okay, let’s give them a quick round of applause.

- [Trinity] If this is a new activity in your classroom, it’s a good idea to practice with an easy question first.

- What is one pet you would like your mom to buy you? Still quiet. Thumbs up by your heart when you know. And three, two, one.

- I want a pet snake and a king cobra snake.

- I want a cat.

- [Gideon] You might even talk about what worked and what didn’t work to make sure everybody is ready.

- What is one thing you thought we did well when we were doing the Back-to-Back Face-to-Face?

- When I was with my partner Maya, I just asked her, “Do you want to go first?” when you didn’t tell us who to go first. So then she just went and then I went.

- [Trinity] Then you’re ready to give it a try.

- How do people affect snakes? Some people hunt snakes for their beautiful skins. The skins are used to make many items such as belts, purses and shoes. So we’re thinking right now...

- [Gideon] Giving students think time really helps with learning.

- Let’s think about this question. How do people affect snakes? So how does what people do affect snakes? So listen clear. Stand right back up. Show us Back-to-Back with your reading partner. When you know, show me with a thumb by your heart. Three, two, one, turn.

- Because they kill them and then they use it for their belts and...

- My grandma has a wallet that has a corn snake skin, too.

- Let’s remember the five steps to Back-to-Back Face-to-Face.

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EL Education

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