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Using Kagan structures to promote Cooperative learning in Computing

11:21 Jamie Edmondson 0 Comments Category : , ,




I’m a big fan of using Kagan Cooperative learning structures in my teaching. Kagan Structures are simple, step-by-step instructional strategies, designed to increase pupil engagement and cooperation. This video explains more https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-yzgJtgVrg.

In the past, I have incorporated a number of these structures into elements of my lessons. I have found them to be a really useful teaching tool for promoting communication and cooperation, especially amongst the more passive, less engaged pupils!

There are over 200 Kagan structures. Here are just a few of my favourite one's with information about how I've used them within my teaching of Computing.

Note: I have pupils sat in table groups of 4 with each pupil 'labelled' as in the diagram below. Each of my tables has a number. I use the Kagan Spinner iPad app and this enables me to call on either;

  • a specific table, 
  • a specifically numbered pupil from each table or 
  • a specific partner (either partner 'A' or partner 'B').

                                          

The structures and how I use them within Computing lessons...

Placemat Consensus

                                          
                                                  image : http://www.sevenminutescientist.com/


About this structure :

In their table groups pupils are given a 'placemat', similar to this one, which is organised with sections for them to record their ideas and a central section for them to summarise their individual thoughts. First, pupils individually think about a question asked of them and then write down their responses on their own section of the mat. Then they share their ideas to discover common elements, which are then written in the centre of the mat.

More detailed information about the structure can be found here


How I've used the structure within my Computing lessons :


As part of project 5.1 of my 'Computational Thinking' unit, pupils analyse this game made in Scratch. I start by asking pupils the question, "What is wrong with this game and how can it be improved?" Within their section of their group placemat, pupils then jot down their initial thoughts (I give them about 10 - 15 minutes to play the game and jot down their thoughts). They then write down common responses in the middle of the the mat and I then use the Kagan spinner app, to call on one numbered pupil from each table to feedback their groups agreed responses.

Rally Robin/Round Robin


                                                              
                                                image : http://marzanomania.wikispaces.com/

About the structure :

Rather than calling on one pupil at a time, the teacher has all pupils interacting at once by saying, "Turn to your partner and do a RallyRobin." During a RallyRobin, students repeatedly take turns, giving one answer each turn to create an oral list. Each pupil gives several answers. With the Round Robin structure, each pupil on the table (rather than in pairs), reveals an answer/idea one at time. I find that this is better for responding to more complicated questions, as it gives pupils slightly more thinking time.

More detailed information about the structure can be found here

How I've used the structure within my Computing lessons :

As part of e-safety focussed lessons, I introduce pupils to the the key question "How can you keep safe whilst online?" I then ask pupils to list their ideas on their individual whiteboard or within their Computing jotters. Either using the rally robin or round robin structure, they then take it in turns to call out each idea on their list. Again, I use the Kagan spinner iPad app to call on selected pupils to feedback.

Timed Pair Share


                                                                    
                                                          image: http://kaganonline.com


About the structure :

For longer responses, you could use a different structure, such as 'Timed Pair Share'. In a Timed Pair Share, each pupil in turn shares for a predetermined time, perhaps only a minute each.

More detailed information about the structure can be found here

How I've used the structure within my Computing lessons :

I find this to be a good structure to use as part of a lesson plenary and I often use it as a way of pupils evaluating their learning against the lesson success criteria. For example, my year 6 pupils have just finished doing a unit on Python programming and we worked a lot on developing a range of 'de-bugging' strategies. Referring to their de-bugging strategies sheet which can be downloaded here, I asked pupils at the end of lessons to talk for one minute to their shoulder partner about a de-bugging strategy that they had used and how it helped them to achieve success.


Numbered Heads Together

                                              
                                                                    
                                              image : http://msjacksonseportfolio.weebly.com/

About the structure :

Numbered Heads Together holds each pupil accountable for learning the material. The teacher poses a question and pupils 'put their heads together' to figure out the answer. The teacher calls a specific number to respond as spokesperson for the group. By having pupils work together in a group, this strategy ensures that each member knows the answer to problems or questions asked by the teacher. Because no one knows which number will be called, all team members must be prepared!

More detailed information about the structure can be found here

How I've used the structure within my Computing lessons :

As pupils come into my classroom I often have the iPad app A.L.E.X. projected onto the Smartboard. Pupils love this app! In A.L.E.X. you need to work out the correct algorithm to guide the robot to the end of its course. I choose a level suitable for the year group I'm teaching and then once pupils are sat down I ask them to work together to come up with the correct algorithm required. Again, the use of the spinner, means that all pupils are engaged as they know that it could be them who's called upon to feedback the solution that they have agreed on!

As part of e-safety lessons with Key Stage Two pupils, I provide these e-safety scenarios. Pupils put their heads together to agree on an appropriate solution/response. I then use the Kagan spinner to call on a numbered pupil from each table to feedback their tables agreed solution.

Variations : You could also do a similar activity using the 'Fan N Pick' Structure or even the 'Showdown' structure (when using the 'Showdown' structure though, I find it best if groups also have an answer sheet for them to refer to after each card).

Rally Coach

                                                    

Within 'Rally Coaching' pupils take it in turns to answer a question or solve a particular problem. Whilst one pupil is doing this (and talking through the process as they are doing so), their 'shoulder partner' is listening carefully and intervening/coaching where necessary. Once their partner has finished, they then offer feedback and praise. Pupils then swap roles for each differing question or problem. In the past, I have found that it works particularly well in maths. Within Computing lessons, I envisage this being a good way for pupils to work together, perhaps with writing particular code or as a support for 'de-bugging' their work. To encourage greater independence and resilience,  I use an 'ask 3 before me' strategy in my lessons, whereby pupils must ask 3 other people before they then ask me for help (and even then I'm very clear that I'm not going to do it for them)! Now that pupils are more secure with this structure, I am going to introduce 'rally coaching' as another strategy for pupils to try. Also, if your pupils share laptops, this structure would ensure that each pupil is making a contribution, rather than just the more confident/dominant pupil doing the majority of the work.
  • Do you use Kagan structures within your teaching of Computing? 
  • Which one's work well for you? 
If you are interested in finding out more about the work that I do within schools or are interested in working with me in the new year,  please visit my website www.jecomputing.co.uk

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