To highlight this further, Kagan continues 'if a teacher new to co-operative learning learns five activities, he or she might well report back after a week, 'those worked well, but what should I do next week'. If, instead, the teacher learns 5 structures, he or she could meaningfully include co-operative learning in lessons all year to further the academic progress of students in any subject matter.
So, the conclusion is pretty straightforward. The most effective use of our time when trying to embed cooperative learning is to go for a structure based rather than an activity based approach. I am going to spend the foreseeable future sharing one structure a month and we can have a go at using it in our classrooms. Hopefully it will be useful in trying to embed the discipline. Maybe you already use or have mastered the technique. If so, share with me and others how you use it successfully! As the great man Kagan says 'Whereas it can be quite overwhelming for teachers to master 'cooperative learning', it is a relatively easy task to master one structure at a time.'
REMEMBER THIS ONE THING - There are such a variety of structures in cooperative learning because they have different domains of usefulness. Quite simply this means that depending on the learning you want to accomplish in the class, whether that be problem solving, checking for knowledge or memorizing facts, some structures are better than others for that learning.
Coop learning structure one - Numbered heads together