Just before kicking off the 2018/19 school year, more than 100 teachers from Hesperia and Fremont schools gathered for a three-day training that immersed them in new tools to use in the classroom.

In a partnership between the two districts and the Community Foundation, Hesperia hosted a Kagan Cooperative Learning training for its entire teaching staff and Fremont’s middle school and upper elementary teachers.

Over the three days, teachers learned about Kagan strategies—called structures—and practiced them in small groups. In one activity, a group member fanned out a set of cards with different questions written on them. Another person picked a card and read it to the group, the next person answered the question, and the other group member checked the answer and offered encouragement. Structures like “Fan-N-Pick” not only provide an informal check for understanding, but they also actively involve the whole group in the process.

“It gets kids talking about what they’re learning,” said Vaughn White, Hesperia’s superintendent. “It’s not group work. It’s incorporating structures that get students talking and sharing what they’re learning.”

Using Kagan structures has been shown to improve student engagement, social skills, and classroom culture. Vaughn, who has experienced multiple Kagan trainings, has also seen it positively impact student discipline and test scores. For teachers, it provides tools that can easily be incorporated into what they’re already doing.

“They don’t have to change their lesson plans,” added Vaughn. “The structures fit in their plan. It’s not creating extra work. It’s not a draining thing. There’s no pressure. It’s a fun thing to support learning and development.”