Dana Kendrick

Let’s Get to the Root of the Problem:  Using Kagan Structures to Build Mathematical Understanding and Discourse

In collaboration with the 3rd grade math teacher, I began an action research project aimed at investigating the impact of implementing the Kagan structure, Rally Coach on students ability to solve two step word problems. Throughout this process, we have worked together to plan and model the structure for students in the Kagan group.  The other math class served as the control group.  Together we planned direct traditional instruction for the control group that included an I do, we do, you do method using the same resources but not the structure. We began the study with a pre-test from both groups.  During the two weeks of instruction, we used formative assessments that included exit tickets and quick checks for both groups.  Both groups were also given the same post assessment from the Envision assessment model.   The Kagan group used Rally-Coach.  This structure requires students to work with a partner and has them work a problem out loud before any writing is done.  Partner A must work the problem verbally and explain the strategy used while Partner B listens.  Once Partner B agrees, Partner A may write.  Then the two exchange roles for the next problem.  The third grade teacher and I also used mathematical discourse sentence starters to model appropriate ways for students to express their strategies and verbalize their thinking.  We also had to discuss ways to be a good coach and how to respond when students work was incorrect.  We gave students the gambit, “Let’s look at this again” instead of allowing students to say negative things such as that’s wrong. In conclusion, the data proved that students who used Rally-Coach were scored higher on the post assessment than students in the control group.  Also, the student survey showed that students in the Kagan group enjoyed using Rally-Coach and felt that it was beneficial to their learning and wanted to continue to use the strategy.  They also agreed that mathematical discourse was important to their learning and was proud to be able to verbalize their thinking using mathematical discourse as they worked through a problem.

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