Kagan structures

I recently went to a presentation given by T2TUK who offer Training in Kagan Structures. It was really stimulating session, and I’m sure that the principles behind the Kagan Structures will be useful for many tutors.  Dr Spencer Kagan was conducting educational research in the 1960s, and developed a range of ways to structure interaction between learners that really enhanced the learning process.  The Kagan structures are basically ways to set up activities so that all learners are involved, and encouraged and supported to work together so that it is very hard NOT to get engaged.

The principles are:

1) The learning task promotes teamwork and learners experience themselves as being on the same side, supporting each other

2) Each learner is held accountable for their individual contribution; but in a non-stressful way

3) Learners participate roughly equally; and

4) All learners are actively engaged , rather than spending a lot of time listening to others.

I always encourage my learners to work together, and to talk about their work, but equally I am aware that there are moments when it doesn’t work as well as I’d like – some learners are more dominant than others, some have more initial understanding of a topic than others, some are less interested by the topic, some are having a bad day…and so on and on.

Although the structures were developed with children, and lots of the internet discussion relates to schools, the activities themselves are definitely relevant to adult learners.

Read more here: http://www.kaganonline.com/

5 essentials – ways to organise your activities:

  1. Mix your learners so they don’t always work with the same partner – get them to stand up, walk around the room and find a new partner
  2. Timed pair share: Asking questions – don’t ask a question to the whole class and wait for the most confident to answer. Ask each pair to work together: ask the question, give thinking time, get partners to tell each other, 30 secs each to answer the question.
  3. Rally Robin: (the activity previously known as brainstorming) give thinking time, get partners to take it in turns to contribute an item to a list. Could be done in pairs or groups of 3-4.
  4. One stray: following a round robin type activity, one person from each group is picked to move to a neighbouring group to share their ideas with the new group.
  5. Rally coach – in pairs with a worksheet, list of questions etc. Partner A solves the question 1, talking through what they’re doing. Partner B listens, checks, coaches where they can, praises. Swap roles for question 2 and so on.


Overall, really easy ways to get lots of buzz in your classroom, motivate learners that they have something to offer the group, promote good group dynamics and ensure everyone is involved.  Have a go at using one of the 5 essentials described above and let us know how you get on, by leaving a comment at the bottom of this page…

Embedding Maths with the National Numeracy challenge

The Challenge Online is a confidential, informal, interactive website which helps you to assess your numeracy, learn everyday maths online and gain confidence.  Whether you need to increase your own confidence in maths, or whether you’re looking for resources to use with learners, this website is definitely worth a look:


The resources have been designed for adult learners – they have had 87,713 learners so far, and there are 898 resources on the site.


For those who were interested in Growth Mindset idea, which came up last month, I have discovered the Ted.com has a little collection of videos on this topic:


Guidance on safeguarding learners and being aware of how the Prevent Duty impacts on learners’ use of the internet.

Please look at these ACL documents including an Advice poster you can give to learners or display at your venue:  e-safety-advice



Also, further advice from JISC here:


Gain QTLS – invest in your career in Further Education and Skills

Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) is a professional status that you can gain by successfully completing professional formation.

Professional formation is a process that enables you to demonstrate the effective use of skills and knowledge in your professional practice that is required to achieve QTLS status.

From September 2016, the Society for Education and Training (SET) has introduced a new and enriched QTLS. After consulting widely with members, partners and practitioners SET has developed a range of improvements to professional formation to make it a richer developmental experience. Underpinned by the professional standards, the new QTLS will help practitioners to consolidate their existing practice as well as further develop new skills and knowledge. Practitioners will be able to demonstrate to their employer and colleagues the positive impact of the process on their practice, as well as their learners.



For more information on how to become fully qualified with the QTLS click here: https://set.et-foundation.co.uk/professionalism/qtls/




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