Kagan in the Primary Classroom

As I've blogged about a few times before, I big time love using Kagan structures in my classroom! Now that we're rolling along and routines are in place, I've been able to introduce a variety of structures to my students, and they are loving them.
Using these structures has made our classroom such a positive place with kids praising each other, helping each other, and celebrating every success. They also cut down on negative behaviors because kids are active and engaged, not to mention my students are working on social skills {which are quickly becoming lost in a world of screens}. 
These are the structures we've been using lately... 

Rally Coach 

Rally Coach is a super easy structure to teach! Basically, students work with their shoulder partner or face partner and take turns doing an activity. One partner takes a turn, while the other coaches. When it's a student's turn to coach, they are making sure their partner is doing the activity correctly, and if they're not, they give them some gentle coaching. When their partner does the activity correctly, the coach gives praise. Then, the students switch roles. We use this structure a lot in literacy centers! We also use it with sorting and sequencing activities.
In this picture, these partners were sorting animals that live on a farm, and animals that don't.
 We also used Rally Coach during our 3 bears unit when we practiced positional words.

Choose a Chip

Talking Chips is similar to Rally Coach in that students take turns and coach each other, but it can be used with partners or a team. It's also used with some type of card {flashcards usually}. Students place the cards in a central area, then take turns picking a card, reading/solving it, then coaching {correcting or praising}. It's a quick, easy way to work on a skill, especially fluency with sight words or math facts. You can choose whether kids start with the words face up {we do this right now to build students' confidence - they have a choice of which word they pick} or face down {we'll move to this later}. A few other ways you could use this structure would be to use letter or number cards to practice identification, picture cards to practice beginning sounds, or cards with groups of objects to practice counting.


In Showdown, teams work together, usually with a captain. However, in kindergarten, the teacher is the captain for now ;). We've been using this structure as a quick math review when we have a few extra minutes. I give each kid a white board {or let them write on the table}, give them a question {for example, I'll draw x amount of dots on a ten frame and they write the number, or I'll write an equation and they solve it}, and they write their answer keeping it a secret to begin with. 
When everyone has their answer, I say "Showdown," and they show their answer to their teammates. As a team, they have to decide if they have the right answer, if someone needs to change their answer, etc. I love watching and listening to the kids explain their answers to each other. It's so much more meaningful than me just telling them!
 We've also used Showdown with our math lessons. Here, teams were deciding how many more scarecrows would make 6.

Quiz, Quiz, Trade

I've blogged about this structure before {see here}, but Quiz, Quiz, Trade is a great structure that we incorporate daily for a quick review. Right now, we mainly use it to review beginning sounds/letters. Students use another structure {Stand Up, Hands Up, Pair Up} to find a partner. Then, they greet each other, quiz each other on the card they have {ask what they beginning sound and letter is}, give praise, switch cards, and find a new partner. My kids love this structure, and I love how many social skills they're practicing! 

You can grab the cards we've been using here as a freebie {they go along with this free alphabet chart}

Simultaneous Round Table

To be honest, we've only used this structure once, but I loved it! During this structure, every member of a team is working on something - a project, a worksheet, anything really! I set the time for about 2-3 minutes, and when the alarm sounds, everyone slides their work/project to the person beside them and they start working on the one they now have. This continues until everyone on the team has worked on all projects and they are complete. We did this after we read Go Away, Big Green Monster. I put construction paper in the middle of each table, and everyone started making a big green monster, recalling details from the book. After 3 minutes, they passed their project, and started adding on to the one that had been passed to them. At the end, each member of the team had worked on all the projects from the team. It was awesome how different and creative they turned out! I could hear them get a new monster and say, "Wait, this one has green eyes and the story said yellow eyes," or "I like how you made the nose!" The kids liked them so much they asked our principal to have them displayed in the front hallway!

This post doesn't nearly come close to doing justice to how Kagan can impact your classroom. If you ever get the opportunity to go to a training, I highly suggest it! They are wonderful!! To find out more about Kagan, you can visit their website. I have a variety of their books, but if you're just starting out, I recommend the Cooperative Learning book. It will help get you started!


  1. Wow! I was actually searching your blog last week to learn more about Kagan - I had remembered previous posts. You've provided so much info (thank you!), do you recommend reading any of the books from the Kagan website? Or do you have any products that specifically support Kagan? I teach first grade SpEd/Intervention and would love to incorporate more cooperative learning. Thanks again :) Jen

  2. Great!! We use the Kagan structures at my school too.

  3. This is so useful! Thank you for making it real for our primary teachers!


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