At Hillside, we have carefully designed our curriculum to ensure that our children are active, independent learners. We want them to develop resilience and the ability to transfer and interchange their knowledge and skills. In addition, it is our desire that our children learn together and develop skills of co-operation and respect. To fulfil our aims, we use the structures in class devised by Dr Spencer Kagan, an American scientist.
When children are actively engaged, they pay attention, they are motivated, they learn more, and the learning sticks. The biggest difference between the Kagan approach and teaching using traditional methods is the ability to engage every child. With traditional teaching, children sit at their desks listening to the teacher and are called on one at a time. Children compete to shine and rarely have a chance to speak. At the same time, shy and lower-achieving students avoid participating instead of trying to engage in class. When students work in teams, they work together instead of competing against each other. This camaraderie is similar to the positive benefits sports teams build. Cooperative learning leads to academic and social gains since every child has an equal turn. Behaviour improves while disruptions disappear.
With the Kagan method, all children face each other and have a chance to share. All children are engaged simultaneously within just a minute or two. They develop self-esteem, social skills, leadership skills, and communication skills and become teammates while learning the curriculum, bouncing ideas off one another.
In order to get every child to participate frequently and equally, we use practical tools to make this participation a reality. There are over 200 Kagan Structures for promoting interaction in the classroom. They are focused on classroom structures, teambuilding and retrieval.
The following toolkit has been adapted by the staff at Hillside to suit the needs of our children and to ensure that they are being actively encouraged to participate cooperatively so that learning sticks.