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Walberta Park Elementary School Succeeds with Kagan Structures

Maureen A. Mulderig

To cite this article: Mulderig, A., M. Walberta Park Elementary School Succeeds with Kagan Structures. San Clemente, CA: Kagan Publishing. Kagan Online Magazine, Summer 2003. www.KaganOnline.com


We have been using Kagan Structures at our school for the past three years. Nearly every teacher has received training and we continue to support teachers through our monthly S.A.M. (Structure-A-Month) Club meetings. In addition, we have developed an extensive library of Kagan books and materials to help teachers use structures in the classroom. As the principal, I use the Kagan Structures in our weekly school-wide assemblies, at our ambassador (student council type program) meetings, and at staff and committee meetings.

We have, relatively quickly, been able to
integrate structures into the everyday culture of our school. I believe that the reason we have come so far, so fast, is because the structures have the following key ingredients:

• They are easy to learn and implement
• They can effectively be
integrated into our school (and are not an "add on" — not one more thing to have to do)
• They produce results

When Dr. Kagan visited our school, one child told me, "Mrs. Mulderig, I can't believe I got to shake his (Dr. Kagan) hand. It was better than meeting the president of the United States!"

The results have been wonderful for us.
We just completed an analysis of our DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment) scores and we have seen significant improvements in the past few years. I believe this is due, in part, to the level of engagement with the curricula through our students' use of structures. In addition, the structures have been a key part of our character education initiatives. Through consistently using structures such as Timed-Pair-Share, RallyRobin, Mix-N-Match, Match Mine, Fan-N-Pick, (and more), the children have demonstrated a number of virtues. These include respect, responsibility, empathy, and tolerance. By using structures, the children practice turn taking, listening, perspective taking, and patience. We do all of this while simultaneously working on academic content. This is crucial, because as we all know, time is always a challenge in schools.

I would strongly urge schools that embark on professional development opportunities with Kagan to remember the importance of ongoing, continuous, professional development. We know from the research that teachers can't change behaviors with "one shot" workshops. Follow-up and continued support of professional development efforts are absolutely crucial to success. Our work in making Kagan part of our school climate is what has made us successful thus far. Our teachers love the structures, and even more importantly, so do our children. They make learning fun and truly engaging for our students. Here's what some of our children have said about the structures:

" I love all the structures because they help people learn and have fun at the same time, but I like Fan-N-Pick the best because it is really fun. We can do it with scrambled up words! That's why I like Fan-N-Pick." — Brittany, 2nd grade

"I like Fan-N-Pick because it makes me a better speller. My favorite structure is Rotating Review because it's fun." — Matt, 2nd grade

"I like Find Someone Who because you get to know people." — Mike, 1st grade

" I like the structures because we get to learn in a fun way." — Andrea, 1st grade

" I like Think-Pair-Share because I like to share with my friends and my teacher." — Zachary, 2nd grade

" I think the structures are fun. They help me read." — Lauren, 2nd grade

" I think the structures are fun. They help me become an intelligent kid. My favorite structure is Give One, Get One because you get a word and from good friends." — Jen, 2nd grade

" I like Fan-N-Pick because I like getting ideas for stories." — Jason, 2nd grade

" I like Inside-Outside Circle because you get to share with people." — Brian, 1st grade

" I like Find the Fib because you get to see what people think about in their mind." — Katie, 2nd grade

" I think the structures are great! They help me do better in school." — Kristina, 2nd grade

" I like Numbered Heads Together because when we do it, we each work together to get a good answer." — Jacob, 1st grade

I wish you much success — before long you'll be seeing great results and your students will be talking about Kagan too!


Maureen Mulderig, Principal

Walberta Park Elementary School
Syracuse, New York