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Test Scores Show Kagan Structures Work At Long Hill Elementary School

Kathy Kennedy, Principal

To cite this article: Kennedy, K. Test Scores Show Kagan Structures Work at Long Hill Elementary School. San Clemente, CA: Kagan Publishing. Kagan Online Magazine, Summer 2000. www.KaganOnline.com

Kagan Cooperative Learning structures are utilized daily in the delivery of instruction at Long Hill Elementary School. During the past three years, teachers have received training in Cooperative Learning strategies developed by Dr. Spencer Kagan. Teachers attribute their increase in test scores to their focus on active learning. Test scores have risen, students and parents are excited about the learning environment, and teachers have adopted a "team" approach to teaching and learning themselves. Long Hill Elementary School was named a National Blue Ribbon School by the United States Department of Education during the 1998-1999 school year and cited for their team approach to learning. "Teachers, students, and parents work in teams throughout the school to ensure student success. Teamwork is obviously seen as a lifestyle instead of an instructional practice at Long Hill Elementary School," reported the site visitor from the National Blue Ribbon committee. Lois Carpenter, a fifth grade teacher says, "A cooperative attitude exists at Long Hill because we have come to learn that a smooth working team creates more productive outcomes. Because we have a great deal of interaction in our working teams, we know each other well, and support each other in personal and professional areas." Mrs. Carpenter was nominated by her fifth graders for the Disney Teacher of the Year award this year.

During the summer of 1996, Kathy Kennedy was named principal of Long Hill Elementary School. Kathy's extensive training in Kagan Cooperative Learning enabled her to provide staff development opportunities for her teachers. During classroom observations and demonstration lessons, she reinforced the active learning structures, which the teachers utilized as a result of the training. At the end of their first year of using Kagan Structures, test scores showed an increase in both reading and mathematics, the two areas tested by the state of North Carolina.

Carrie Bonner, a fourth grade teacher, believes that the Kagan strategies have helped her become a more effective teacher. She writes, "Through the use of Kagan Structures and theory, I have been able to become a teacher who uses a variey of techniques to reach and enhance the learning styles and needs of all of my students. Before I began using the Kagan Cooperative Learning strategies, I was exposing my children to a lot of group work where the brightest, outgoing children were in control. Now, with Kagan Structures, my low perfoming, shy, and high-performing students work as a team to complete a task or goal. I am now a facilitator of student learning as opposed to a teacher, who in a sense dictates the material, lessons, and activities." One of her students, Marissa Ihus, states, "I like to sit in cooperative learning teams in my classroom because it gives us a chance to not only learn things ourselves, but to learn together and help each other."

Fourth grade writing scores have showed the most growth in student achievement during the past three years. During the 1997-98 school year, 68% of our fourth graders mastered the state writing test with a score of 2.5 or higher using a rubric of nonscorable, 1, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, 3.5, or 4.0. During the 1998-99 school year, 80% of the students scored 2.5 or higher and during the1999-2000 school year, 91.1% of the students scored 2.5 or higher!

Kagan Cooperative Learning Structures contributed to much of this increase in student achievement. The structure, Simultaneous RoundTable is used weekly in all grade levels to foster the creative thinking of children. Personal or imaginative story starters are provided by the teacher, to students, and Simultaneous RoundTable is used to spark the writing process. After students complete their stories as a team, they use Spend A Buck to determine the best story for their team. This story is shared with the entire class and constructive feedback is provided by the teacher and the class. Students then distribute the stories their team wrote among the teammates and work with a partner to edit the paper. These papers are taken home to revise and submitted as a final draft by the end of the week. Students may choose to conference with the teacher, a volunteer, or their editing partner before submitting the paper to their teacher. A few other structures we use to assist with the writing process include, Match Mine, Same-Different (enables students to practice descriptive communication), and Similarity Groups (enables students to locate other students having difficulty with the same part of the story....ie: beginning, middle, end).

Kagan Cooperative Learning has changed the way we deliver our content to students. Dawn Carter, a third grade teacher sums it up best when she said, "Kagan Cooperative Learning makes teaching and learning more fun and child-friendly. It is amazing to see student confidence blossom because they were able to grasp a concept taught by the teacher only after a classmate explained it to them during Team-Pair-Solo. It is inspiring to see the excitement on their faces when I spin the infamous Student Selector Spinner and they cheer because they know everyone will have the opportunity to participate. This enables me to take the fear of participating away from my reluctant learners, who know they will be able to share their ideas with someone else before answering in front of the entire class." Overt, active participation is the only way we know whether or not our students are mastering the content....thanks to Kagan, we have a lot of strategies to help us deliver our content better!

To Contact Kathy Kennedy
E-mail: kkenn59@aol.com
Phone: 910-678-2417