My Favorite Cooperative Learning Structures

There are so many different cooperative learning structures that you can use in your classroom. It’s all about what you want to get from your students and how you want them to interact.

Here are some of my favorites:
Brosseau - Kagan Book
Why it’s great: It is a very quick way to make partners, and then groups of four, and it allows students to move.
How to do it: All students stand up, put their hands up and mix around the room to find a partner where they pair up. Use a fist bump or high-five to indicate that they are partners. Hands go down when the student has a partner so that the partner-less students are easily identifiable.

Why it’s great: Students can use this to review, but I love it for practicing presentations.
How to do it: Form two circles with an equal number of students – use StandUp-HandUp-PairUp to form partners and have one be on the inside and the other on the outside of the circle. Students share their presentation (or answer to a question) then have the non-presenting student give feedback. Switch presenters and then rotate the inside circle (by one student or multiple students if you really want to mix things up)!

Why it’s great: 100% engagement all the time!
How to do it: Have the students create review questions on index cards, include the answer too. Start with StandUp-HandUp-PairUp and have the students quiz each other, explaining the answer if they student got it incorrect. Swap cards and it’s back to StandUp-HandUp-PairUp to find new partners. If you have an odd number of students, you can join in the fun too!

One Stray
Why it’s great: Students become confident in an idea or opinion, then one gets to shine as they travel to another group to share those ideas and opinions. It is also much more organized than having a bunch of different group members meet up.
How to do it: In your groups of four, pose a question, have the students number off and discuss the topic. Be sure to let the students know that they will need a good understanding. Pick a number and have that number become a “travelling star” – other groups will have to entice the stars to come sit with them. There, they share the ideas from their groups and can bring new information back to their home group.

I love Kagan structures! Dr. Spencer Kagan was the one to introduce me to these cooperative learning structures at GLACIE in Toronto. Dr. Vern Minor solidified my love for them at the same conference the following year. I don’t get paid to say that (I wish!), but if you are looking for one conference, or one resource to get you’ve got to check out

Mrs. Brosseau's Binder Michelle is a secondary Science and Physics teacher from Ontario, Canada.  She blogs at Mrs. Brosseau’s Binder and shares her materials through her Teachers Pay Teachers Store.
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