Kagan Online Magazine - Issue #54

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Letter from the editor
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Spencer’s Thinkpad

Kagan Structures Elevate High School Achievement

Dr. Spencer Kagan

Dr. Kagan responds to a high school teacher's misconception that, "My students are too old for this." Scientific research studies, student surveys, and teacher action research all confirm that Kagan Structures not only work with secondary students—they work very well!

Featured Structure


Laurie Kagan

There's nothing like a leisurely walk and talk to cement classroom learning or build student bonds. Learn how to use Stroll-Pair-Share in your classroom.

Administrator Tips

Because I Said So!

Dr. Vern Minor

Administrators are the agents of change at their school or district. Change is more effective when it is a democratic and participative process than when it is mandated from above. Vern shares how administrators can make this change.

Teacher & Training Tips

Managing Multi-Step Structures

Rob Jutras

Avoid common pitfalls when teaching your students how to use Kagan Structures. Learn how to effectively manage multi-step teaching strategies new to you and your students.

Training Opportunities

Kagan’s Winter Academies Are Coming Up!

Whitney Taylor

Kagan's Winter Academies are just around the corner. Take a look at Kagan's course offerings.

New Products

59 Kagan Structures

Team Kagan

You've asked for anÏ easy reference book with all your favorite Kagan Structures in one place. You got it! This immediate best-seller is your go-to guide for creating full student engagement.

A+ Anecdotes

A Complete 180

A new teacher was regretting her career choice. She was frustrated that she could never seem to engage her students. That is until she attended her first Kagan training. Her teaching made a full 180-degree turn for the better.

Learning to Laugh

Overheard in the Classroom

What Participants Are Saying

Hear what educators across the country are saying about Kagan Trainers and recent Kagan workshops.


Kagan Cooperative Learning in the Arabian Region

A news article about Laurie Kagan's dynamic demonstration of Kagan Cooperative Learning to school principals in the United Arab Emirates.

Special Article 1

You Will See Results

Dana Hensley

After the first quarter, 38% of Mrs. Hensley's 5th grade science was not passing. Something had to change. Mrs. Hensley started implementing RoundRobin, Fan-N-Pick, and Quiz-Quiz-Trade. The percentage of failing students dropped like the apple from Newton's tree. Take a look at her impressive results.

Special Article 2

Caruthers Elementary Is on the Path to Achievement with Kagan

Marla Dominguez

Principal Dominguez reports a 95% growth in language acquisition as measured by the CELDT test. Teachers attribute the growth to the safety and communication that goes on with Kagan Structures.

Special Article 3

Engaged Learning

Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy

Kagan has helped transform the school culture at Parkview Elementary. Referrals for discipline have virtually disappeared. Kids are having fun learning. Teachers are having fun teaching. What more could you ask for?

Special Article 4

Large Urban District Burnout Buster

Bethany Glass

Teachers in large urban districts can battle with burnout and disillusionment. That's not the case for Ms. Glass who states, "Since Kagan entered my classroom, my students' verbal skills have gone through the proverbial roof."

Special Article 5

A Game Changer for Special Education

Beth Howell

Principal Howell reports how the staff at Wilbur Elementary claims Kagan Structures are a game changer for their special education students. Special needs students are so included and engaged in learning, visitors can't even tell which students have IEPs.

Letter from the Editor

Widening Our Gaze

If you're driving down the road and approach a man who looks bruised and battered on the side of the road, what do you do?

People are different. Situations are different. Reactions are different.

Person #1 looks at the man and thinks to herself, "He probably did something to deserve it." Then she speeds on by.

Person #2 sees the man and feels terribly sympathetic. She thinks to herself, "This is a tragedy. I must do something about it." Without another thought, she stops the car. She jumps out. She runs up to help the man.

I much prefer Person #2's thoughts and actions. I bet you do, too. However, consider another course of action…

Person #3 looks at the man and immediately thinks, "Something must be going on." She glances up the road, and sure enough, there's another bloodied person in need of help. She drives ahead to see what's going on. The bridge across the large gully is out. The road is positioned so oncoming cars can't see that it's out and they are driving full-speed into the gully. If something isn't done—and quickly—more cars will drive into the gully and more people will be injured—or worse!

Person #3 calls 911, then parks her car. She yells to the victims that help is on the way. She climbs across the gully to the other side of the road. She takes off her sweatshirt and begins waving it wildly. Cars heading for the gully come to halt to see what what this mad woman is doing. They quickly learn—she's saving lives!

Why am I talking about car accidents in Kagan Online Magazine? I'm not. I'm talking about Kagan. But before we get to that, let's see how this scenario applies to many classrooms worldwide.

There is a boy in the class that is really struggling. His name is Shaun. During class time, he's really tuned out. His first chapter test comes back, and it's clear as day that he just isn't getting it. One teacher might think, "Shaun, it's your fault. If you had only paid attention in class or quit annoying me and others in class, you would be getting this." Or, "If you just did your homework or studied more, you wouldn't be failing."

What we need in education is to focus on high-leverage systems. High-leverage systems are things that we can do that positively impact many things simultaneously.

Another teacher has an enormous amount of sympathy. Her heart goes out to Shaun. She tries to give him special attention and support in class. She offers to tutor Shaun during lunch or before school. She reaches out to Shaun's parents to see if anything can be done at home. She notices Shaun is really into basketball so she tries to draw him into the curriculum by using connections to basketball. She gives Shaun differentiated worksheets that aren't quite as challenging so he can experience some success.

Then there's another teacher. She looks at Shaun, but broadens her gaze. She looks around the classroom and sees Yvette, who is also disengaged. Same with Jose. Cassie, too. She thinks to herself, "This is not just a Shaun problem. This is a pervasive problem. Every year, I have many students that I'm just not reaching. They're not getting it and really don't seem to care about the subject, my class, school, or their classmates. I certainly can't make special accommodations for each of my struggling students. There's only one of me. There are only so many hours in the day. I need to look up the road and find the cause of these problems and address it head on at the source."

We would never condemn the good samaritan who jumps out of the car to help a victim. Same in the classroom. Any teacher who makes the extra effort to help students in need is a hero in my books. But perhaps like the lady who directly addressed the root cause of the problem, we can make a much bigger and lasting effect not by reaching out to one, but by changing the structure of learning that affects everyone. Instead of jumping to help one car accident victim, maybe we can run up the road and prevent these accidents from happening year after year.

Our educational system is replete with metaphorical car accidents. We have students tuned out. We have an achievement gap. We have bullying. We have racism. We have school shootings. We have pretty much everything from fender benders to multi-car pile-ups.

Although well-intentioned, we simply can't address all these issues by working with one student at a time. We need to take a systems approach. But not just any systems approach. There are good systems for discipline. Systems for social skills development. Systems for math teaching. Systems for science learning. Systems for violence prevention. There are so many available systems we could easily get overwhelmed. Many well intentioned schools do just that—they get buried in trying anything and everything to fix the problems. With the tug and pull of so many different interventions, none get fully implemented and none really add up.

What we need in education is to focus on high-leverage systems. High-leverage systems are things that we can do that positively impact many things simultaneously. With a high-leverage system, instead of focusing on all these interventions, we can focus on one. By doing that one thing well, we can dramatically improve many ailments at once. Kagan is one such high-leverage system. Kagan is not a way to deal with individual students or individual problems per se. It is a different way to teach that impacts every student and positively impacts many outcomes.

How can one system have such far-reaching positive results? The answer is easy. Because, with a very small change, it changes the very nature of the way teachers teach and the way students experience school. Kagan Structures are designed so students cooperate to learn. Through cooperation, students become more engaged with each other. Learning is more fun and interesting. School itself becomes a very different experience. More learning. More enjoyment. More engagement.

For years, the Kagan team has been like that lady waving her sweatshirt wildly. She was letting drivers know the bridge was out. We've been showing teachers that there's a better way to teach. The good news is spreading. Class by class, school by school, the word is getting out. There's this easy thing you can do called Kagan, and it changes everything!

Miguel Kagan

Miguel Kagan, Editor
Kagan Online Magazine
Kagan Publishing & Professional Development

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