Last year, the Goodrich staff had the opportunity to learn, experience, and implement Kagan Cooperative Learning. This past Friday, I was able to attend the same Kagan training at Jefferson Junior High that my peers participated in last year. I left this professional development excited to implement what I learned.
Cooperative learning is much more than just group work. Cooperative learning structures learning in a way that promotes positive interdependence, individual accountability, equal participation, and simultaneous interaction.
Today in math, my students engaged in a structure called Rally Coach. This structure has students set up in pairs and given one piece of paper (independent practice) and one pencil. Basically, one partner solves the first problem while the second partner listens, watches, coaches, and praises the work their partner is completing. The first partner must always get the ok from the second partner before moving forward. Then the students switch roles and complete the next problem.
Listening to my students guide each other through the problems was amazing. There was so much buzz and excitement in the classroom. Students took pride being able to share their thought process with someone else and also in coaching their partner.
Seeing my students work in this way made me wish my past teachers would have structured partner and group work in this way. I know that I would have benefitted from having to explain my thinking and then in turn coach a partner through solving a problem. There was always one classmate that depended on others to do all the work when working together and these Kagan structures take the ability to hide away.
As my students and I move forward through the school year, we will be working a lot more with cooperative learning.