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Special Article Five

CCSD Hosts Kagan Workshop

Jessica Jones Paine, Staff Writer
Murray Ledger & Times

To cite this article: Jones Paine, J. CCSD Hosts Kagan Workshop. Kagan Online Magazine, Issue #64. San Clemente, CA: Kagan Publishing. www.KaganOnline.com

Photo of Kagan trainer and school staff member
Southwest Principal Mark Mallory volunteered to help Kagan Trainer Chris Lowe demonstrate a strategy known as “Quiz-Quiz-Trade.”

MURRAY – This year the Calloway County School District is focusing on student engagement through offering a unique professional development (PD) opportunity to district educators. All of the teachers and school administrators in the district are participating in Kagan Cooperative Learning workshops. All three district elementary schools had their two-day training session last week; the middle and high schools started theirs today.

CCSD Director of Professional Development and Public Relations Ryan Marchetti explained that the training is designed to teach research-based teaching strategies that foster student engagement through cooperative learning.

“Kagan Cooperative Learning provides teachers with strategies on managing their classrooms, engaging every student, building their classroom culture, and how to provide kids support,” Marchetti said. “It’s been shown to close achievement gaps, improve student achievement overall, and improve school culture.

“… There’s a large piece of it that talks about getting kids talking, getting kids to get to know each other and to understand each other. The research shows when we use these things in our classrooms that we see a decrease in bullying, an increase in student morale, increase in school culture; so, it doesn’t just help in the classroom with achievement, but it also helps your kids to feel better, to feel more included.”

“We’re giving teachers strategies to use—and they’re miniature procedures—to ensure every single kid gets actively involved in learning,” Chris Lowe, who was flown in from New Jersey to be the trainer for the elementary schools’ workshop, said. “For example, if a teacher asks a question like, ‘Who can name the planets?,’ typically, a teacher would call on one kid at a time. ‘Raise your hand; I’ll call on you one at a time.’ So instead of calling on kids one at a time—because we have to think not about the kids that are answering the question, but we have to think about the kids who aren’t answering the question—we need a new strategy.

“So one kid out of 25 is answering the question, but we want all kids to answer the question. So, instead, we say, ‘OK, I’m not going to call on one person; I’m going to call on everyone. Everyone, try to think of all the planets you can think of, and you’re going to turn to your shoulder partner and we’re going to do RallyRobin.’ That is a structure that means one student gives one answer then the other student gives an answer, and this partnership goes back and forth, trying to list as many planets as possible. So that’s cooperative learning, and that ensures every single kid gets an opportunity to answer the question, not just one. So that’s one structure out of 250 different ones you can use. We are only training them on the first 15, and the 15 structures will dynamically change the classroom environment immediately.”

Calloway County School District hosted Kagan Cooperative training for the district’s elementary school teachers. Teachers are shown perusing a selection of Kagan materials.

The idea of bringing in a Kagan Trainer to do the workshops had to be put on the back burner because of COVID. “It makes kids be shoulder-to-face, face-to-face, so it was hard to do some of this stuff (for the last two years),” Marchetti said. “We think, especially with kids (having been) kind of antisocial and stuck at home, that this is even more necessary now because it makes kids have to discuss and explain (the material) and stay engaged. We’re excited about it.”

The teachers and school administrators are also excited about it. Many expressed thanks to administrators for bringing the workshops to the district.

“I’ve learned (several structures) from this Kagan Training that I can apply in my classroom to keep my kids engaged and hold all of them accountable in a fun and interactive way,” Jennifer McCafferty, a fourth-grade science teacher at North Elementary, said. “An a-ha moment for me, as a teacher, is how I can easily apply this right now. There’s very limited prep work that I have to do from the very beginning. … It is probably one of the best PDs I have had in a very, very long time. I’ve been a teacher for about 17 years, and this is something that I’m excited to incorporate in my classroom this year.”

“I think it’s completely going to transform the way we deliver instruction in our classrooms,” East Elementary School Principal Monica Boggess said. “I think our teachers are extremely excited about it, and, in turn, I think our students are going to love it as well. I think that we will see a lot of academic success from this.  We’re really thankful that Mr. Settle and those up at the central office saw fit to have us do this training. I think it’s going to be a great thing for our school district.”

North Elementary Principal Melinda Hendley said the most exciting thing about Kagan is that the strategies can be used in all classrooms, not just K-12. “I would say, if I was a college professor, I’d be using some of this in my classroom. … This is not rocket science; these are things we should have been doing for a while. (A teacher) sitting at my table said, ‘Why haven’t I thought about this?’ And I think that’s our take on it.”

Boggess said the techniques work as well with adults as they do with students and noted how they have helped faculty meetings run more smoothly. “It makes them go faster because we’re able to cover so much more material. It’s also much better for them because they can take in what we’re trying to convey to them so much better. It’s not a program; it’s a way of life.”