Kagan Online Magazine - Issue #56

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Letter from the editor
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Spencer’s Thinkpad

Cooperative Learning Helps English Language Learners (ELLs) Succeed

Dr. Spencer Kagan

Cooperative learning is a powerful teaching tool for helping students acquire English. Dr. Kagan describes how cooperative learning positively impacts three critical variables for language learning: Comprehensible Input, Frequency of Practice, and Social Support. If you're looking for a way to promote English language learning, read this article and watch the six-minute companion video.

Featured Structure

Find Someone Who

Team Kagan

Find Someone Who is a classic Kagan Structure. It can be used for teambuilding, for reviews, and even for problem solving. Regardless of how you use it, students have fun trying to "find someone who..."

Administrator Tips

You’re Creeping Me Out

Dr. Vern Minor

The "creep" that Vern's talking about in this article is Scope Creep—when so many things creep into the scope of a project that it becomes unwieldy or untenable. Avoid scope creep with your teachers. Keep focused on the little things that make the biggest difference for students.

Teacher & Training Tips

Providing Sentence Stems with Kagan Structures

Tom Searl

Communication skills is one of the most important sets of skills teachers want students to acquire. Communication skills are also among the most highly desired workplace skills. However, students are sometimes anxious about how to answer or just don't know how to formulate their responses. Sentence starters to the rescue! Sentence starters help get the communication started.

Training Opportunities

Kagan Live Online

Team Kagan

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Kagan has temporarily paused all in-person professional development and coaching. Kagan has created a new training opportunity called Kagan Live Online. This web-based training is an adaptation of Kagan's signature cooperative learning training. Learn about this new online training opportunity.

New Products

Emotion-Friendly Teaching

Dr. Spencer Kagan

If you are looking for one book on Social-Emotional Learning (SEL), this is the one! In this book, Dr. Kagan translates the field of theory and research on emotions into teacher-friendly ideas, activities, and structures. Learn how to elicit positive emotions in the classroom to enhance student learning. Use the Kagan Emotion Wheel to help students understand and manage their own emotions and those of others. Better understanding and control of emotions means greater sel-control and self-motivation, as well as more sympathy and respect for others.

A+ Anecdotes

Positive Interdependence and the Three-Legged Race

What Participants Are Saying

Teachers review their recent Kagan workshops and their Kagan Trainers. Spoiler alert: More than one review begins with, "Absolutely amazing!"

Where in the World Is Kagan?

Using Cooperative Learning Structures for Effective EFL Teacher Professional Development

Ghada Awada & Ghazi Ghaith

Doctors Ghaith and Awada are professors at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. In this article they describe how they use Kagan Structures and other cooperative learning structures to effectively prepare teachers to teach English as a foreign language.

Social Media

Get Social with Kagan

Team Kagan

Social media is a new section in this online magazine. In this first article, we look at the platforms Kagan’s on, how to subscribe to or follow Kagan, fun contests and giveaways, and Kagan’s official hashtag — #KaganStructures.

Special Article 1

East Haddam Elementary Receives Kagan Charitable Foundation Grant

Margaret Lettieri

East Haddam Elementary in Connecticut applied for and received a charitable grant from the Kagan Charitable Foundation. They used their grant to host a Kagan Cooperative Learning Day 1 training at their school. In this article and short video, East Haddam shares their story, their appreciations, and some of the structures and goofy games they learned in the workshop.

Special Article 2

A “D” School Ramah Elementary

Amanda Clawson

Ramah Elementary in New Mexico was unpleasantly surprised with its low "D" rating, almost failing! With nearly a third of their students categorized as English language learners (ELL), teachers were challenged with helping students achieve both language and academic proficiency. Ramah introduced Kagan to their teachers. In one year, they posted a respectable 23 point growth.

Special Article 3

But What About My Shy Students?

Rick DuVall, Ph.D.

Communicating with teammates is central to Kagan Structures. Speaking is part of the academic standards. But what do we do when students are too shy to share? In this article, Dr. DuVall provides some insights and recommendations for how to get ALL students interacting.

Special Article 4

Kagan Coaching Competencies

Kristi McCracken

Kagan Coaching is a workshop Kagan offers to districts to help them create internal capacity for sustaining Kagan implementation. Kristi McCracken, educational columnist from the Porterville Recorder, attended a Kagan Coaching workshop presented by Dr. Vern Minor. In this article, Ms. McCracken shares some of her key observations and takeaways from this coaching workshop.

Special Article 5

How Controversial Topics Inspire Deeper Learning

Jeanie Dailey

Controversial topics are just that because there is often more than one way to look at an issue. Instructional specialist Jeanie Dailey describes how cooperative learning can be used to deepen thinking about sensitive topics. She provides an example of a moving lesson developed to explore a local historical event from multiple perspectives.

Letter from the Editor

Spreading Aloha

The theme of our year-end Kagan holiday party for 2019 was an Aloha theme. Kagan’s Activity Committee did another great job of planning and executing the Hawaiian party. As Kagan team members and our significant others arrived, we were greeted with the traditional Hawaiian plumeria lei. The lei is a symbol of love, friendship, and respect. This affection for others, stated another way, is a symbol of Aloha.

Inside, the sweet sounds of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" were sung by a Hawaiian ukulele player. The song talks about wishing upon a star, waking up where clouds are far behind, where trouble melts like lemon drops.

The song paints a picture of a “wonderful world”:

I see friends shaking hands saying, "How do you do?"
They're really saying, "I, I love you."

There it was again... more love, more respect, more Aloha.

And if that wasn’t explicit enough, our entertainment for the evening made the spirit of Aloha even more central. Before the Polynesian couple performed dances from the islands of Hawaii, Tahiti, New Zealand, and Samoa, he started with a message of Aloha.

It went something like this: Aloha, as we all know, means hello and goodbye in Hawaiian. But it has a much deeper meaning to Hawaiians. It is a show of mutual respect, and even love for one another. So when you want to express your love through your greeting you say, “Aloooooooooha,” with open arms. But if it is someone you don’t know, you still show respect with a quick, “Aloha.”

There it was again... more love, more respect, more Aloha.

Before the party I hadn’t really put two and two together. But that night I realized how fitting the Aloha theme was for Kagan. The two are really well aligned.

A big part of what Kagan is trying to do is spread Aloha in the classroom and beyond. A major objective in the Kagan classroom is to create a cooperative and caring learning environment. While building that type of learning community is a noble end unto itself, it also has benefits for learning. When students perceive the classroom as a safe learning environment, their brains are more free to focus on learning. They are more willing to take risks. The shy student is more willing to articulate her opinion. The cool kid is more willing to lower the mask and authentically share his thoughts. The second language learner is more willing to try English, knowing that he will make mistakes, but also knowing he will be met with encouraging, rather than judgmental, classmates.

Through teambuilding, classbuilding, and student cooperation over the academic curriculum, we create good vibes in the classroom. We spread Aloha throughout the class.

Through teambuilding, classbuilding, and student cooperation over the academic curriculum, we create good vibes in the classroom. We spread Aloha throughout the class. Students come to like each other more. There is more fun. There is more mutual respect. And dare I say, there is more love!

As I mentioned, the song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" imagines a “wonderful world.” At Kagan, we do too! And one way we get there is by creating a wonderful world in the classrooms where students spend their formative years. Teachers are the architects of their own classroom atmospheres. That atmosphere is shaped by daily teaching decisions. Do we structure learning so students don’t interact much, or do we structure learning so student interaction is a regular part of every day? Do we structure learning so students compete with one another and view each other as combatants, or do we structure learning so students see each other on the same side? Do we structure learning so students hope for the failure of classmates in order to shine, or do we structure learning where students celebrate the successes of their partners and teammates? The choices we make have a profound impact on class climate and learning.

However, unlike the song, we don’t need to wish upon a star to have our troubles melt like lemon drops. Teachers simply need to do a few things well to build a cooperative and caring classroom. In no time, we create that wonderful world:

I see friends shaking hands saying, "How do you do?"
They're really saying, "I, I love you."

Kagan puts the “cooperative” into learning. Cooperative learning is Kagan’s claim to educational fame, but the sense of Aloha, same-sidedness, and mutual respect permeates all Kagan workshops and resources thanks to instructional strategies that have students interact with one another in positive ways to master the academic curriculum.

Admittedly, it takes some effort to spread Aloha in the classroom. But look what happens when we don’t make the effort. We get what we got: disengagement, bullying, violence, disrespect. Join Kagan and together let’s spread the Aloha. Let’s make the classroom (and the world) more fun, more respectful, and a whole lot more cooperative!

Miguel Kagan

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

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