Journey to Excellence


Centering Practices: quiet reflection time used to focus on learning.

Check Level of Understanding: non verbal signals from students to demonstrate how much of teacher’s instructions or explanations have been understood.

Co-operative Lessons

Simple: short co-operative strategy inserted as part of another lesson (brain-storming, round robin, round table or think-pair-share).

Complex : exercise requires majority of class time.

Concept Maps, Webs, Bubble Clusters: cross disciplinary organizational tool for graphically representing thoughts.

Concept Attainment: teaching strategy which requires students to use inductive reasoning to figure out a concept.

Examplars: the samples used in an inductive reasoning lesson (pictures or written samples of concept) graphically representing related thoughts.

Guided Discovery: teaching strategy to sequence and focus exploration and observation.

Metacongnition: thinking about thinking.

Positive Interdependence: a task selected by the teacher that the group performs better together than any member could alone.

Problem-based Instruction: instruction model that promotes critical thinking by presenting students with interesting problems to solve.

Station to Station: small groups of students move from location to location in the classroom or laboratory performing specific learning tasks.

Evaluation and Assessment

Summative: evaluation and assessment at the end of a teaching unit. Final tests or grades which compare individual student’s performance with the norm or criterion.

Formative: assessment designed to build knowledge and determine individual progress, for example quizzes, verbal coaching, and learning logs.

Formal: recorded assessments, scored and recorded in the grade book. The student’s performance is measured against the teacher’s goals and objectives.

Informal: teacher monitors student progress without recording scores.

Kagan Co-operative Learning Terms


Round Robin: an oral technique. Teacher announces the topic to be shared. Each team member shares with the team.

Round Table: written exercise. Teacher announces topic. Each team member makes a written contribution to the group’s project.

Numbered Heads Together: Students huddle to make sure all can respond. A number is called, and the student whose number is called responds.

4S Brainstorming: Teacher creates groups in which each member is given a brainstorming role:

    • Speed Sergeant encourages rapid responses.
    • Sultan of Silly encourages silly ideas.
    • Synergy Guru encourages teammates to build on other ideas.
    • Sergeant Support encourages all ideas.
    • Secretary records ideas on paper.

Teacher announces topic as prompt to generate ideas. Prompt should be open-ended with no “right” or “wrong” responses. Secretary is not to stack or hold slips with responses, but lays them out so that they cover the table.


Jigsaw/Expert Jigsaw: Each teammate has part of the answer or a clue card. Teammates put their information cards together to solve the problem.

Expert Jigsaw Variation: One member from each team goes to a station to gather knowledge when s/he returns, knowledge is shared with the team by the new “expert.”

Pairs Check: students work first as pairs with a problem, coaching and praising each other. Then each pair checks with another pair every two problems.

Same-Different: Students try to discover what is the same and different in two pictures, but neither can look at the other’s picture.

Selected and reprinted from Dr. Spencer Kagan’s book Cooperative Learning, with permission from KAGAN 1.800.WEECO-OP or

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