Kagan Online Magazine - Issue #64

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Spencer’s Thinkpad

Pairs vs. Teams
The Necker Cube of Cooperative Learning

Dr. Spencer Kagan

What’s better, to have students work in teams or work in pairs? The answer is: It depends! Like the Necker Cube optical illusion that flips back and forth depending on how you look at it, the same is true for the advantages of teamwork and pair work. Both have their advantages and there is a time and place for each.

Featured Structure


Team Kagan

Draw-What-I-Write develops two core communication skills. First, students learn to write instructions with precision. Second, students learn to follow written instructions. Like all Kagan Structures, it leverages the power of student-to-student interaction.

Administrator Tips

Lead Now Like Then

Dr. Vern Minor, Director of Educational Leadership

Does effective leadership during a pandemic look different form effective leadership in "normal" times? Dr. Minor examines advice for educational leaders during the recent crisis and argues that the advice equally applies to good leadership post-pandemic. Consider the advice presented here for your next steps as a leader.

Teacher & Training Tips

Anchor Charts Anchor Learning

Dr. Rick DuVall, Kagan Trainer and Coach

An anchor holds a boat to the sea floor. Likewise, anchor charts can hold students’ attention and help with academic and interpersonal development. Read about the different types of anchor charts, how to engage students in their creation, and how to use them.

Training Opportunities

2022 Fall USA Tour!

Nicki Giles

Kagan is coming to a site near you. Come join Kagan for knock-your-socks-off training right in your own backyard!

New Products

Learning Chips

Four new Learning Chips sets are here! Learning Chips are an easy way to get teams interacting about a specific topic. Promote an attitude of gratitude with Gratitude Chips. Leverage positive emotions with the Happy Recall Chips. Put students in a positive frame of mind with the Positive Emotion Chips. Explore new vocabulary words in depth with the Vocabulary Chips.

A+ Anecdotes

Kagan Is Sweet!

Learning to Laugh

Funny School Signs

What Participants Are Saying

Read recent reviews of Kagan workshops and trainers.

Special Article 1

Berkley Continues to Excel After 20+ Years of Being a Kagan Model School

Berkley Elementary School

Change can be hard. Sustaining a change can be even harder. But, for those willing to make a change and stick with it, the payoff can be enormous. Berkley has stuck with Kagan now for more than 20 years. Berkley continues to outperform district and state peers.

Special Article 2

Creating Magic with Cooperative Learning

Athenian Academy Of Technology And The Arts

This public charter school received a D rating and was at risk of being shut down. That’s when they turned to Kagan. The very next year, they went from D to B. The following year, they earned an A grade. Read about how Athenian created this magical turnaround in such a quick timeframe using Kagan Cooperative Learning.

Special Article 3

The Power of Kagan Coaching

Melissa Wincel, Kagan Trainer and Coach

Kagan workshops educate and inspire teachers. But Kagan Coaching is where the rubber meets the road. A Kagan Coach observes teachers as they implement Kagan Structures in their own classrooms. It's in-the-moment feedback to support teachers, not evaluate them, as they add new structures to their instructional toolboxes.

Special Article 4

Kagan Structures in a Dual Immersion Classroom
How Kagan Can Help Dual Immersion Students

Aline Lourenci

One of the greatest challenges in the dual immersion classroom is to get all students using the target language. Margaret shares her journey of how she adopted some simple Kagan Structures to boost student communication and interaction.

Special Article 5

How to Universally Design for Learning for Multilingual Learners and Students with Disabilities
(With Kagan Cooperative Learning Structures)

Hay Mar Aung, Natasha Bellande, and Casey Siagian, Stamford American International School

The UDL framework is an approach to design meaningful learning opportunities that address learner variability. See how these three teachers incorporated Kagan Structures in the UDL framework to support students learning English as an Additional Language (EAL) as well as their students with a range of disabilities.

Letter from the Editor

COVID-19 Took a Toll!

There was the devastating loss of life. More than one million Americans have now died due to contracting the Coronavirus. The numbers are staggering. But the statistics mask the grief of losing a grandfather, a mother, a brother, a child.

There was the immediate impact on doctors, nurses, and so many healthcare workers. They worked ridiculously long and hard hours. In many cases, they put their own health at risk and some made the ultimate sacrifice. Many were brought to the brink (and sometimes beyond) of physical and emotional exhaustion. They emerged as heroes of the pandemic, to whom we owe a great debt of gratitude.

Indeed, COVID-19 took a toll. We are now faced with learning loss, a large achievement gap, and student isolation.

There was the catastrophic impact on business. Restaurants and movie theaters shuttered their doors forever. The travel industry was hammered. Small businesses collapsed. Layoffs were rampant.

As if the pandemic itself wasn’t bad enough, partisan fighting about how to respond spread like the virus itself. Democrats versus Republicans. Public safety versus individual freedom. Masks versus no masks. We were a country divided.

And of course, close to all our hearts, there was the toll COVID-19 took on education and our youth.

When Covid first swept across the country, schools shut down. Teachers were sent home to teach remotely. We all scrambled to learn how to teach using Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and the like. At Kagan, we focused a lot of our efforts on how to recreate classroom interaction and engagement in the virtual world. Sure, there were some success stories, but the overall picture for our country was more bleak. Many students were completely unengaged for months, and some never even got online.

As a country, we were basically forced to try a remote instruction experiment. Even though we are not done with Covid (or shall I say, Covid is not done with us?), enough time has elapsed that we can look back and reflect. How did education fare?

As I said, COVID-19 took a toll!

Academic researchers took the opportunity to study the impact of remote learning. Their conclusions were consistent. It was a failure! Students learned much less remotely than previously in classrooms. They documented real and measurable learning loss. One of the most frightening findings from the research was that the pandemic widened the academic gaps between student subgroups. Economically disadvantaged students often suffered longer closures, and more technological difficulties including lack of equipment and internet connection.

COVID-19 took its toll on students socially and emotionally at least as much as it impacted students academically. Students felt isolated and afraid. Some had to deal with family joblessness, illness, and sometimes death. Almost all suffered losses in peer connections at a time of life when connectedness is such a strong basic need. Students were told to stay home and if they didn’t keep social distance, they could get sick, die, or bring the virus home and kill a loved one. Scary stuff. Playgrounds usually filled with laughter were eerily silent. Hanging out with your squad in the quad disappeared in an instant.

Yes, many students did get to interact online. We were big proponents of replacing the concept of social distance with physical distance, but social closeness online. But let’s face it… remote interaction is just not the same! There’s no substitute for face-to-face interaction. A thumbs up emoji is not the same as a teammate’s high five or pat on the back.

While it is helpful to read the reports and view the studies, none of the results are earth-shaking findings. Teachers witnessed first-hand the toll Covid took on students academically, socially, and emotionally. Let’s all be honest, it took a toll on us, too!

Our answer for education remains the same post-Covid as it did pre-Covid: by employing research-proven interventions shown to positively impact students socially, academically, and emotionally. Kagan is one such approach.

Indeed, COVID-19 took a toll. We are now faced with learning loss, a large achievement gap, and student isolation. Although we are still not done with COVID-19, the time is upon us to rebuild. It is time to make up for lost instruction. It is time to chip away at the increased gap. It is time to reconnect students to each other and heal the wounds. It is time for us to come together as a country, regardless of race or political affiliation. We have our work cut out for us! We have some catching up to do!

The question becomes, how? How do we accomplish all these goals? Our answer for education remains the same post-Covid as it did pre-Covid: by employing research-proven interventions shown to positively impact students socially, academically, and emotionally. Kagan is one such approach. And of course we may be biased, but we feel it is our best hope of addressing all these issues simultaneously with a single intervention. By using simple instructional strategies that create an unparalleled level of student engagement, we can create learning gains, close the gap, and help students recover socially and emotionally from this national trauma.

Covid took a toll. Join us as we fight back.

Miguel Kagan

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