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Kagan Cooperative Learning and its importance to me in Science Education: Andrew Ridley-Ellis

My journey with Kagan Cooperative Learning started when I attended a ‘Brain Friendly Teaching and Learning’ training session in 2011 organised by KaganUK and led by Dr Spencer Kagan. Using this training I immediately put Kagan structures into practise. The difference in the progress, engagement and academic success of my students was evident from the outset.

Kagan structures truly work!

Initially I started small using the structures RallyRobin and RoundRobin with all my classes which covered all the ages and ability ranges I taught. These structures enabled me to get my students talking about science in a structured way. Everyone in the class was contributing and feeling valued for their ideas. The Kagan approach also gave me the opportunity to hear the whole classes ideas as I circulated the room during these structures. Before long my classes and I had mastered 5 key structures we used on a regular basis, these are RallyRobin, RoundRobin, StandUp-HandUp-PairUp, Timed-Pair-Share and RallyCoach. (See 'The Essential 5: A Starting Point For Kagan Cooperative Learning' below.) The regular use of these 5 simple, but powerful structures enabled the students I was teaching to gain in confidence in sharing ideas and developing their understanding because they have the opportunity to think about the science we are doing, talk about it, to rehearse and reorganise their ideas with built in check and coaching from their team mates before having to formally write it down. What I have found is that by using these simple structures which are at the core of my teaching students made fewer errors in tier work. One of the things that makes me realise how much the students value using the structures was when my lesson had to be covered and the teacher taking it asked the students to discuss an idea. This was a Y7 class and one of the students asked ‘should we do a Timed Pair Share’. When the cover supervisor told me this it made me feel that the students valued how cooperative learning structures enabled them to share ideas and learn from each other. Since that first experience of Kagan Cooperative Learning in 2011 I have gone on to complete more training in the UK and USA. I am now a certified Kagan In-School Trainer and a certified Kagan Coach. Working with Gavin Clowes, Director of KaganUK, I have implemented Kagan Cooperative Learning in a larger than average High School of over 2000 students, a high proportion of which are from disadvantaged backgrounds and with English as an additional language.

The benefits of using Kagan structures in science are immense. The students I teach gain a better understanding of the science we are learning and gain the crucial social skills of being able to effectively work with anyone in the class. Student progress is vital in education today and I have found by using structures like Sage-N-Scribe, Numbered Heads Together, Team-Pair-Solo and Quiz-Quiz-Trade my students ‘keep up rather than needing catch up’

As the last year has brought much uncertainty and the move to teaching online I have adapted many of the structures to take place with my online classes and they value them as much online as they did in a face to face classroom situation as not only are they learning structures, they are structures which enable much needed social interaction.

Available via the KaganUK Online Shop very soon..... Andrew shares the wealth of his knowledge through a fabulous new series of Secondary Science books: "The questions and answers contained in the Quiz-Quiz-Trade: High School Science books have been used with my students and my co-workers’ students. I wanted to produce a resource that fellow educators and their students would find useful and support every student achieving their full potential."

Quiz-Quiz-Trade: High School Science

Andrew P. Ridley-Ellis (Secondary)

Quiz-Quiz-Trade is a student favourite! This Kagan Structure turns need-to-know curriculum into a fun and interactive quizzing game. To play, every student receives a quiz card relating to the topic. Students then pair up with a classmate. Using their cards, they quiz each other. After coaching or praising, they trade cards and set off to quiz a new classmate with their new card. The repeated practice boosts retention of the content. Memorising important information and concepts has never been so fun! Each book is loaded with card sets on a variety of topics. Each card set includes enough ready-to-copy cards for your entire class to play.

Quiz-Quiz-Trade: High School Biology

Card sets include: cell structure, specialisation, division, digestion, the heart and circulation, homeostasis, nervous system, brain and eye, hormones in human reproduction, plant hormones, DNA and the genome, genetic inheritance, interdependence, feeding relationships and cycles, biodiversity, and evolution. BQQHB

Quiz-Quiz-Trade: High School Physics

Card sets include: energy, electricity, electromagnetism, magnets and static electricity, forces and interactions, forces and motion, atomic structure, radioactivity, particle model, waves, electromagnetic spectrum, light, Earth, our solar system, space and the universe, and discoveries in physics. BQQHP

Quiz-Quiz-Trade: High School Chemistry

Card sets include: balancing chemical equations, periodic table, electron structure, atomic structure, ionic bonding, covalent bonding, group 7, noble gases, reactions of metals, extraction of metals, electrolysis, acids, alkalis, and salts, alkanes and alkenes, carbon chemistry, reaction rates, and key ideas. BQQHC

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