• English
  • About
    • CEI Structure

      The CEI welcomes in districts and LEAs through a cohort model. Each Cohort makes a two year commitment learn and grow within the initiative, and many stay longer to share their expertise and facilitate the learning of newer cohorts.

  • Blog
    • Online Learning

      The CEI is proud to offer a selection of CEI-created and curated resources and learning modules on a variety of topics designed to help educators strengthen their community engagement practices.

  • Joining CEI
  • Contact
  • Find Your Closest CEI Team
  • Search
Protocol Toolkit Item: 1b


Print Friendly and PDF


An interactive group activity to explore and come to agreement. Can be used to officially vote on one or more options or to see where a group might have shared preferences. This protocol is an alternative to traditional voting.


Chart paper/whiteboard or presentation slide Sticky Notes, multiple colors Pens/Markers Dot stickers (two colors)


60 Minutes


Facilitators should identify key areas that are essential for effective community engagement. CEI recommends using the Six Root Causes of Ineffective Community Engagement (Six Root Causes) OR the Dual Capacity-Building Framework Essential Conditions as key areas to assess strengths and areas of growth. Participants must have a strong understanding of the key areas chosen. Facilitators should clearly define the Six Root Causes or the Essential Conditions of the Dual Capacity-Building Framework during or before this protocol. Links to each of these frameworks are in the materials section below.  In preparation for this activity, a chart paper poster should be available for each identified key area (six total if using the Six Root Causes, nine total if using the Dual Capacity-Building Framework Essential Conditions). Post the chart paper with their headings and two columns around the room; see the example below. Sticky notes and multi-color dot stickers will be placed on the chart paper during the protocol. Note: A facilitator may substitute other key areas to assess strengths/areas of growth as applicable to the group. This protocol can be facilitated whole group or by breaking your group into smaller teams. For example, teams can be constructed from participants who come from the same district or who are from the same school.  Virtual Implementation
  • An electronic whiteboard or slide can be used instead of chart paper. Options that work well for this protocol include Jamboard and Padlet, but a Google document or Google slides can also work for this protocol.
    • Important Note: Some applications limit the number of people who can access and add to a file. Google has a limit of 100 people, and Padlet currently has no limit to the number of people who can access and edit.
  • For voting:
    • Small multi-colored dots can be created in a virtual implementation using the shape creator function or some other small graphic that participants can access.
    • Facilitators may use an electronic polling application for voting (Zoom Poll, Poll Everywhere, Mentimeter, Google Meets Polls)


Step 1:

Introduce Protocol (10 minutes) Share the following information with participants:
  • The group or teams will spend some time identifying strengths and growth areas in key areas critical for effective community engagement. 
  • This is an interactive and collaborative activity to explore and agree upon the collective’s strengths and areas of growth. The objective is to identify an area of growth to focus improvement efforts. 
  • The group will work together to do the following:
    • First, identify community engagement strengths and areas of growth aligned with the key areas.
    • Second, to agree using dot voting on which area of growth to focus improvement efforts. 
    • Be sure the group understands the purpose of the activity and how the results of their vote will be used.
  • Provide descriptions of the key areas of focus (Six Root Causes or Dual Capacity-Building Framework Essential Conditions). 
    • Each participant should have a copy of the descriptions to reference during the protocol.

Step 2:

 Identification of Strengths and Areas of Growth (20 minutes)
  • Place the group into their teams if applicable. Facilitator should review each key area, and then provide participants time to think about areas of strength and growth. Teams can discuss and come to an agreement.
  • Instruct the group to identify 1-2 areas of strength and 1-2 areas of growth for each key area. Use sticky notes to record strengths and areas of growth, writing only one per sticky note.
    • Strengths should be written on one color sticky, and areas of growth should be written on a different color. 
    • If the group has been broken into teams, they can work together to identify and write their 1-3 strengths and 1-3 areas of growth. 
  • Allow time for each individual or team to place the sticky notes on the key area chart paper posters under strengths or areas of growth as appropriate.
  • The facilitator should combine duplicates or group items that are similar or part of the same action/activity.
  • This process should be repeated for each key area filling in the strengths and areas of growth for each.

Step 3:

Group Review (10 minutes)
  • The facilitator now leads the group in a review of each key area. After each area’s strengths and areas of growth are reviewed with the group, the facilitator should ask participants if everyone is satisfied with how the responses were grouped. 
  • If everyone is satisfied, the facilitator should review the following key area’s strengths and areas of growth and ask again if everyone is satisfied with how the responses were grouped. 
  • If someone is not satisfied with how the responses were grouped, facilitate a discussion about the changes that may need to be made. 
  • Make adjustments to the grouping of responses as necessary. 
  • When all responses have been reviewed, thank all participants for participating. 

Step 4:

Group Voting (20 Minutes)
  • After all key area strengths and areas of growth have been reviewed and modified (if necessary), tell participants they will vote on strengths and areas of growth using multi-color dot stickers. 
  • Provide participants with a total of four (4) dot stickers. Two should be one color, the other two should be a second color. 
  • Share that participants will be casting an individual vote for their top two choices for greatest strengths and top two choices for most pressing areas of growth in all the key areas. They will use their dots to vote by placing them next to their choices on the chart posters, one color for strengths and the other for areas of growth.
    • Participants will vote on their top two strengths by placing dots from the first color next to the strengths on any key area posters. They must decide from all key areas which two strengths are the greatest. 
    • Using the other color dots, participants vote for areas of growth they believe are the most pressing from those listed on the key areas chart posters. 
    • Provide participants 5 minutes to walk around, review all the strengths and areas of growth, and place their dots on the posters.
  • After 5 minutes, ask participants to take a minute and look at the placement of the multi-colored dot stickers. The posters will resemble a heat map at this point.
  • Review the top two strengths and top two areas of growth identified from the multi-color dot sticker voting process. 

Step 5:

Debrief and Next Steps (20 Minutes)
  • After the group reviews the top two strengths/areas of growth, the facilitator will lead the group in a discussion using the following Debrief Questions.
Debrief Questions:
  • What stands out to you in our dot vote results? 
  • Are you surprised by where the dot stickers were placed? Why or why not?
  • Do we all agree that the top 2 strengths and top 2 areas of growth are our biggest strengths and areas we most need to improve or grow as a group? 
After the debrief discussion, inform participants that these strengths and areas of growth will be useful as we explore the next steps as a collective. 
  • Thank all participants for their contributions and participation. 
Note: A common next step is to focus on one area of growth to develop a problem of practice and work through the Problem of Practice Model Process. (See CEI Problem of Practice Model Process for details) Virtual Implementation
  • If the group is large and needs to be broken into teams, breakout rooms can be used to allow teams to walk through their analysis of strengths and areas of growth. 
  • Facilitators should review all key areas and provide key areas definitions/descriptions

Examples of Use

  • Community Engagement Areas of Strengths and Areas of Growth in key areas.
  • Can be used to help education partners agree on recommendations for the LCAP.
  • Can be used where ANY option or options need to be narrowed, and an agreement needs to be reached. 
  • Modifications of this protocol can include:
    • Providing double the number of sticky dots to participants and allowing them to place more than 1 dot on a selection they feel strongly about.
    • Using the pattern of dot votes to create a prioritized list rather than voting for one option.
Skip to content