By Libby Meyer
Two grade school teachers at Harding Elementary School have caught the attention of parents, teachers, and school board members by introducing their students to a “revolutionary” learning program.
Second grade teacher Melinda Fry and third grade teacher Laura Anton have implemented features of the Kagan Cooperative Learning Program in their classes. Both teachers were introduced to the Kagan program at a three-day conference in Chicago.
According to Kagan’s website, its mission is to “develop and share revolutionary instructional strategies proven to boost engagement and achievement.”
By implementing some of the “Kagan Structures” into their daily routines, the teachers have seen a positive impact on their students. At different points throughout the day students are split up into groups of four, intermixing students of various academic abilities.
“In their teams they play a much more active role in the learning process,” Fry said. “I also think the students enjoy taking on a leadership role in helping their peers learn. They all have strengths in different areas and they love to share their strengths with others who may need the assistance.”
Working in small groups allows the students to improve their social skills and engage more actively in their own learning. “They truly work as a team to complete group assignments and assist/coach each other when needed,” she said.
After a presentation to the Monmouth-Roseville school board, complete with a video documenting the Kagan Structures in action, Superintendent Edward Fletcher was equally impressed.
“Instead of the teacher standing in front of the class presenting all of the lessons, these Structures allow the students to interact with each other and learn through active participation,” Fletcher said. He added that he would like to see Kagan expanded to other grade levels and more junior/senior high school classes.