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Articles by Dr. Vern Minor

Kagan Connections—Common Core State Standards

4. Kagan Structures help teachers address the expanded definition of literacy.

Traditionally, the focal points of language arts programs have been reading, writing, and language. These continue to be important components of a comprehensive literacy program, and each is highlighted in the CCSS. Kagan Structures can be used in all three of these domains. Examples are highlighted below.

  • During a Shared Read Aloud, a teacher can insert a structure, Timed Pair Share at various intervals and ask students to predict what will happen next and the reason for their thinking.
  • Students can use Jot Thoughts to brainstorm topics for a writing assignment. These ideas can be sorted into categories using RoundTable Consensus. Then, students can take each category and develop it into a paragraph.
  • Students can use Quiz-Quiz-Trade to identify and correct errors with punctuation.

However, two shifts are taking place in literacy practices, and these are both prevalent in the CCSS. The first is a movement toward using informational texts rather than just literature. The second—and this shift dovetails perfectly with Kagan Structures— is the emphasis being placed on speaking and listening skills. An important focus of the CCSS speaking and listening standards is on academic discussion in one-on-one, small group, and whole class settings. Traditional classroom teachers simply cannot meet these expectations; students cannot remain passive and develop the communications skills of speaking and listening. Kagan Structures give all student practice in verbal and nonverbal dimensions of communications.

5. Kagan Structures build lifelong skill sets in students.

As noted in the Background section, the K–12 CCSS correspond to the CCR anchor standards. Educators in the K–12 ranks can no longer function in a vacuum; higher education and the business sector are both deeply invested in what transpires in the K–12 realm. The CCR standards are evidence that K–12 educators will forever be expected to make connections to the postsecondary experience.

One of the most significant ways in which the world of work has changed in recent times is the emergence of interdependent tasks. For many years the business world valued individuals who were skilled independent workers—persons who took initiative and worked efficiently on solo tasks. However, much of the work that is now being done in business and industry relies on people who must function effectively in an interdependent manner (e.g., work in collaborative team settings). This change in the work sector has resulted in students needing a new set of skills—skills associated not only with independence but also interdependence.

Kagan Structures provide students with practice in skills that are necessary for success in the 21st century. Among the many skills that Kagan Structures address are the following: relationship building, problem solving, critical thinking, teamwork, collaboration, and communications. Students need repeated practice and corrective feedback in order to reinforce these types of skills. Kagan Structures provide repetition for all students; traditional teachers do not provide the opportunities students need in order to successfully develop these types of skills.

Final Thoughts

There are certainly other connections that can be made between the CCSS and Kagan. However, the five connections noted herein demonstrate that Kagan Structures are not strategies that exist apart from the CCSS; rather, use of Kagan Structures will enable educators to more effectively meet the demands associated with implementing the CCSS. If, as a nation of educators, we hope to close the achievement gap and ensure high levels of learning for ALL students, we must embrace changes not just in curriculum standards but also in instructional practices. Kagan has a long and proud history of helping schools across the country boost academic gains and close the achievement gap. It is our hope that we can establish a long-term relationship with your organization as you strive to improve the achievement of ALL children. If you would like to visit more about the information contained in this document, please feel free to contact either of the educators listed below.

Jackie Minor, Ed.D.
Dir. of District Implementation

Vern Minor, Ed.D.
Dir. of Educational Leadership