Our district recently hosted a workshop on Kagan Cooperative Learning Strategies. I'm a big believer that you can always learn something new and improve, so even though I felt like I was already using a lot of their strategies, here are two that I now use more deliberately.
Kagan recommends that students be grouped together deliberately in heterogenous groups of four. Each person within the group has a number and a letter assigned to them. This way you can say "work with your shoulder/ face partner" and "Person A starts."
- Person 1 collect the materials for your table
- Person B open your computer and share with shoulder partner A.
- Person A take out a pencil and B a piece of paper. Person A writes first and then B.
- Numbers 2 and 4 from every table get up and trade places with someone from another table.
In my class we do a lot of oral questioning. I usually project something on the board and toss a ball for students to make statements or answer questions. Since the Kagan workshop, I have been sharing my presentations with the students via Google Drive so they can work in partners to answer the questions. One partner will open her computer and the other partner will answer the first question. Then they will trade off each slide. This has really increased participation among the shy or spacey students because everyone has to answer at least 50% of the questions. By forcing them to focus on the task, it also provides increased input and repetition, which can be especially helpful for that particular group. Furthermore, it gives them more think-time which usually leads to them asking more questions. I typically format the slides with a question and picture that students verbally respond to, and then the answer is animated to appear on their click so they will have time to think and process. This allows me to circulate and spend time listening to everyone. So far, it's been great!