Thursday, October 10, 2013

Kagan Strategies, Coming to America, and Word Problems

It's a  long post today, but it will change the way you teach! It's super easy to implement, and student engagement is at it's highest.  I'll never teach another way after using Kagan...

I have been using Kagan Structures in my classroom this year and the kiddos absolutely love it!  It holds them accountable for their own learning while allowing them to work in cooperative groups.  If you haven't used this, it's a must!  I can't even begin to tell you how amazing it is. Students are actively engaged throughout the lesson, it can be used for any subject, it's easy to plan and implement, students praise and support each other throughout the lesson, and smile the whole way through.  I could go on and on...

Click the picture to visit my Kagan Pinterest board.

Kagen uses many structures like, "Think, Pair, Share," "Round Robin," "Rally Coach," "Showdown Captain," and many more.  Some I'm sure you have already used.

I'm going to show two ways I used Kagan this week. One structure for reading, and one for math.

I love Discovery Education and use it all the time with Kagan Structures.  I taught the lesson, "America's Open Door: A Multimedia Exploration of Immigration." And it's Common Core aligned!

Students learn about The Colossus of Rhodes (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) and the Statue of Liberty, watch a video about immigration, and then read the poem,  "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus.  They do a context clues vocabulary lesson, compare and contrast the two statues, and then write an explanatory text summarizing what they have learned about coming to America and the Statue of Liberty.  
It's super easy to set up Kagan for your classroom.  All you need to do is number your tablesand students. I have table numbers hanging above the desks (1-6) and  numbers on student desks (1-5). I actually write on the desks.  Visit Timeouts and Tootsie Rolls to see how I do this. 


Now on to how I used Kagan with all of these resources.  It can be used many ways here, but I'll focus on the vocabulary using context clues.

I first read aloud, "The New Colossus."  I had it posted on the Promethean Board for students to follow along.

The vocabulary in this poem is rigorous, so we had to look at the meaning of words in order to interpret the meaning of the poem.  We looked at words and phrases like, wretched,  huddled masses, exiled, tempest-tost, and brazen.  I handed out the following worksheet along with one my Instructional Coach made to use with Kagan.

Student 1: Reads the vocabulary word
Student 2: Reads the sentence with the word in context. 
Student 3: Reads the line in the poem that contains the word
Student 4: Says what he/she thinks the word means
All: Write down what they think the word means where it says Word Study-Notes

Using Kagan Software, I can randomly pick who will share their findings, set a timer, and so much more.  This is what makes this lesson so much fun.  The software gets students really excited about their learning because it's very much like a "game show."  After each share, students do a little cheer and move on to the next word.  We use cheer cards from Dr. Jean Feldman.  So much fun! I don't do this after every word, but pick a few to share.  This structure holds students accountable for staying on task, working cooperatively, and checking their work as we go.


We then do this as a whole group. It just reinforces the meaning of the words.  And I am able to check for understanding.

I mostly used pictures from Discovery Ed, but had to filter the Colossus of Rhodes. So I used another from the internet.  Here are some of the pictures I used...


Here are some great children's books for this lesson. 

                               Coming to America: The Story of Immigration [Book] The Statue of Liberty [Book] Landing at Ellis Island [Book] Seven Wonders of the Ancient World [Book]

Now on to math...
I'll share a way I used Kagan with multiple choice word problems.  This structure is called "Showdown Captain." I make Active Inspire Flip Charts with multiple choice word problems for my Promethean Board. Students work out a problem in their journals or on dry erase boards.  They have a set time to work independently.  The Kagan Software allows me to choose a random student number from each table to be the "Showdown Captain."  When the timer buzzes, the captain says, "1,2,3 Showdown!"  All students show their boards to each other, talk about it, and come to an agreement on the correct answer.  Sometimes I have them stand up to do a "football huddle" or Kagan Structure called, "Numbered Heads Together."  I then use the software again to randomly generate a student at each table.  I added the next part since it's multiple choice, but you could do without.  The student chosen will pick up the correct answer eraser (I bought the erasers from the $1 bin at Target before school started) and on our chant, "Show Me the Eraser!"  (we chant it like we are on a game show) they show, and we all look to see if the answers are matching. Again, we do a cheer and move on to the next problem. This can be used with multiple choice questions in any subject area. 



Students put their hands in the middle when they are ready.

It's All About Engagement!

It's the last week of Balloon Fiesta, so I thought I'd share with you a picture I took at school yesterday.  I have family coming into town this weekend, and we are definitely going to some of the events, so I'll take some pictures and share with you.  Thanks for reading my post today.
  Be on the lookout for giveaway soon!


  1. I'm very interested in this Kagan! We have a new super. this year and his push is engagement. These look like great ways to keep students engaged! Thanks for sharing!!


  2. Thanks, Bethany! I'd be happy to share some more ideas about how to implement. I'll be working on this throughout the year.