structure of Numbered Heads Together is derived from the work of Spencer
Kagan. There are a number of variations on the method, some very simple
and others with a greater degree of complexity. This structure can be used
in conjunction with ‘Think, Pair, Share’ early in the development of
the Co-operative Classroom.
information, communication, developing thinking, review of material,
checking prior knowledge.
Processing information, communication, developing thinking, review of material, checking prior knowledge.
Sharing information, listening, asking questions,
summarising others’ ideas, talking quietly.
There is an expectation that everyone in the group will be able to answer
the question following the discussion.
suggests the teacher phrases questions beginning with; “put your heads
together and…” or “Make sure you can all…” There are many other
ways of ensuring the teacher cues the students into the collaborative
The students work together. They quite literally “put their heads together” in order to solve the problem and also
ensure that everyone in
the group can answer the question.
are all sequential responses. The teacher can also use what Kagen
describes as simultaneous answers:
I G S F
students are able to learn from each other. They must also work together
to ensure there is one product to their learning. They must check that
everyone can understand and answer the question.
Students are accountable to each other for sharing ideas. The student may
also be required to share their partner’s ideas to another pair or whole
group. Every student must be able to give the group response to the
student within the group has an equal opportunity to share. It is possible
that one student may try to dominate. The teacher can check this does not
degrees of interaction. At any one moment all of the students will be
actively engaged in purposeful speaking and listening.
Heads Together is suitable for any curriculum area and can be used as an
extension or in combination with the ‘Think, Pair, Share’ structure.
‘Numbered Heads Together’ is an excellent
structure for combining Learning Partnerships into groups or teams of
four. It can be used early in the development of the ‘co-operative
classroom’ and as with ‘Think, Pair, Share’ offers a high degree of
engagement but slightly higher order interpersonal and small group skills
The important concept of ‘wait time’ is
incorporated and allows all children to develop answers. Answers will have
reasons and justifications because they have been thought about and
discussed. Students are more willing to take risks and suggest ideas
because they have already ‘tested’ them within their group. This
structure can also be combined successfully with ‘Check and Coach’.