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Engaging Minds

To what extent do various Kagan Structures support or effect 21st Century Learners?

Scott Hayhurst

on 20 May 2011

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Transcript of Engaging Minds

Engaging Minds:
A Kagan Structure Inquiry Question:
To what extent do various Kagan structures
support or affect 21st Century Learning? Plan:
We wanted to explore the question through direct implementation of the Kagan structures in our classrooms. First, we attended a 4-day Kagan Cooperative Learning Structures Institute. We followed this up with collaboration time in which we planned how we would implement the structures in our school/department/classroom. I selected several key structures that I deemed appropriate for my classes and used them repeatedly in various situations. Observations:
I chose not to gather direct quantative data but relied solely on personal observations and conversations with students. Academic Achievement, Engagement and Management were my three focus areas in relation to the 21st Century Skills

1) Academic Achievement:
My grade 9 class was just beginning the dreaded public speaking unit so I experimented with such structures as RallyRobin, RoundRobin, Mix-Pair-Share, and Three-Step Interview. Throughout these activites, students were required to use effective oral presentation skills. As I led them through the process, students became more comfortable speaking in front of others as well as giving and receiving direct formative feedback. Furthermore, in all of my speech units, I have never had such great attendance, eagerness to go first or such amazing presentation skills. Students commented that, although public speaking was a huge fear, they were confident in their speaking skills and with their classmates so much so that it was easy.

2) Engagement:
As teachers, we strive for ALL students to meet ALL learning outcomes in an exciting and engaging way. The engagement factor hinges on being both relevant and fun. Brain breaks during the lesson continued to focus on collaboration and problem solving skills but in a fun context. Observing students during the structures such as Inside-Outside Circle and Sage n Scribe reaffirmed that they were interested in working with their parters due to the positive interdependence of the activity.

3) Classroom Management:
Kagan structures have, in essence, taken the role of monitoring the behaviour of the class from the teacher and put it on the student. Using a structured seating plan where students of mixed abilities are seated together for a several week time period enables the students to become more comfortable with each other as well as motivate each other. Timers and student selectors ensure that students are on-task and accountable. Even the playing of baroque music in the classroom helps calm the students. Analysis:
Although the data is observational, I can confidently conclude that implementing Kagan structures in my classroom has had a positive effect on the students. What I observed in the classroom is that the students are undoubtedly more active and engaged. This is reflected in their increased academic achievement, decreased behaviour issues, and above all, the high level of academic rigour. In terms of the student's voyage to becoming a 21st Century learner, I can safely say that they have built on their problem-solving, collaboration, creativity and communication skills. Concluding Statement:
A man can learn only two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people. Will Rogers This association with 'smarter people' is what Kagan Structures are based on and is what guides the student to develop and improve their 21st Century skills. I will continue to help my students by using these collaborative learning strategies in my classroom.
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