Clustering webinar

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Cluster Grouping: A “Gift” for Gifted Learners : 

Cluster Grouping: A “Gift” for Gifted Learners Jacquelyn Drummer Learning Coach blufflovers@wi.rr.com 414-916-4785

Today my hopes are to… : 

Today my hopes are to… Share the “why” of cluster grouping - educational best practice reasons for it Describe the “what” of cluster grouping - what it is/what it is not Explore the “how” of cluster grouping - how to set it up and make it work

That children differ may be inconvenient; nevertheless, it is an inescapable reality that they learn at different rates and in different ways, and we must attend to those differences.-Theodore Sizer : 

That children differ may be inconvenient; nevertheless, it is an inescapable reality that they learn at different rates and in different ways, and we must attend to those differences.-Theodore Sizer

What is cluster grouping? : 

What is cluster grouping? As a working definition, cluster grouping is the deliberate grouping of students with similar learning needs together for the majority of their day to enhance their educational experience. For gifted students, this would mean deliberately grouping them together for most of their school day.

Why cluster gifted learners? : 

Why cluster gifted learners? Because they learn at vastly different rates than most peers Because they learn in vastly different ways than their peers Because it is a cost-effective way to serve their unique needs Because it is the right thing to do

Gifted learners learn at a vastly different rate than their peers : 

Gifted learners learn at a vastly different rate than their peers Many gifted learners need 1-2 repetitions to closure of learning, while others need 6-14 repetitions, or more Many gifted students have mastered 40% of the curriculum before it is taught Highly gifted students may have mastered 80% of curriculum before it is taught!

Gifted learners learn in vastly different ways than their peers : 

Gifted learners learn in vastly different ways than their peers Many are global thinkers, intuitive thinkers, and make intuitive leaps when learning Most prefer open-ended tasks, and are fueled by intense curiosity and an insatiable love of learning, not by grades or approval They often “drive the adults” as they learn (both parents and teachers)

Clustering is cost-effective : 

Clustering is cost-effective Special education has recognized its value and clusters to utilize support staff efficiently If we cluster gifted kids, we make it worth a teacher’s time to differentiate effectively Clustering does not require hiring additional staff for gifted students

Clustering is the right thing to do : 

Clustering is the right thing to do All students deserve to learn new things each and every day at school; clustering allows more time for gifted learners to be served and differentiated for Gifted children need emotional support and academic challenge all day, every day at school Gifted children need academic peers Gifted cluster teachers possess the desire and training to effectively serve gifted students; they feel accountable to facilitate the progress of gifted learners

The effects of clustering on achievement -- NAGC position paper : 

The effects of clustering on achievement -- NAGC position paper The academic effects are substantial (depending upon the actual amount of compacting and differentiation that do occur for learners), and social and self-esteem effects are small but positive. Academically, students in these classes can gain from 1-1/2 years to 1-3/4 years growth in the subject- specific area for which they are grouped/clustered (Rogers, 2002).

So…which students are we talking about as candidates for academic/intellectual gifted clustering? : 

So…which students are we talking about as candidates for academic/intellectual gifted clustering? Candidates for gifted clustering

Bright or gifted? : 

Bright or gifted? Knows the answers Is interested/alert Is attentive/involved Has good ideas Works hard Answers the questions when asked Top Group Listens with interest Learns with ease 6-8 repetitions to mastery Asks the questions Highly curious/observant Mentally/physically alive! Has wild/silly ideas Plays around, yet tests well Discusses in detail/ elaborates well & often Beyond the group Displays strong opinions Already knows 1-2 repetitions to mastery

Bright or gifted (continued) : 

Bright or gifted (continued) Understands ideas Enjoys peers Grasps the meaning Completes assignments Is receptive Copies accurately Enjoys school Absorbs information Technician Prefers sequential learning Is pleased w/own learning Constructs abstractions Prefers adults Draws inferences Initiates projects Is intense Creates new designs Enjoys learning Manipulates information Inventor Thrives on complexity of learning/task Is highly self-critical of self/learning J Szabos

Suggested classroom composition - 90 students (Winebrenner & Brulles) : 

Suggested classroom composition - 90 students (Winebrenner & Brulles)

How can educators facilitate clustering? : 

How can educators facilitate clustering? Face-to-face meetings with teachers, administrators and support staff about the needs of all children and how to group them for the most effective teaching and learning Honest discussions about teachers’ ability and willingness to differentiate Examining beliefs and values about all learners, including gifted learners Deliberately place gifted learners into clusters based on abilities/potential/achievement

Advantages of clustering gifted students : 

Advantages of clustering gifted students It meets their social and emotional needs Teachers can spend more time with them Compacting and rapid pace, intensity and depth can occur Opportunities for extended learning (contracts) can be offered and supervised Gifted strategies (e.g., RAFTS, Cubing, Think Dots, Hardest First, Tiered Assignments) can be utilized more efficiently Higher order thinking skills (HOTS) will be ensured Students will experience the challenge that they require to grow, yielding value-added education for them

Beliefs and values that may require discussion : 

Beliefs and values that may require discussion Cluster grouping is not tracking; in tracking gifted children are only & always grouped with gifted children; in clustering all classes still have a range of abilities, just not such a great range Clustering does not remove the “spark plugs” from other classes; other classes still have high average learners who will rise to this task Gifted students may not be the best academic roles (or tutors) for struggling learners In a truly “flexible” and differentiated classroom, children are grouped and regrouped for lots of reasons (readiness, interest, learning style, choice, etc.); we would expect this in a clustered classroom, as in all classrooms

Disadvantages of clustering gifted students : 

Disadvantages of clustering gifted students

What does “best practice” in clustering look like? : 

What does “best practice” in clustering look like? A gifted cluster in every grade A gifted specialist or mentor at every school (often the teacher most experienced in gifted education and gifted strategies and kids) A gifted coordinator or director in every district

Responsibilities of gifted cluster teacher : 

Responsibilities of gifted cluster teacher Differentiate curriculum and record progress Ongoing staff development in gifted education (book studies, webinars, classes, etc.) Share resources with all teachers Love gifted kids Support inclusion Decrease use of whole group instruction Encourage a student-centered approach to learning

Responsibilities of gifted specialist/mentor : 

Responsibilities of gifted specialist/mentor To mentor/coach on a wide variety of topics related to gifted education Strategies Lessons Materials Nominations and testing issues Problem solving,critical and creative thinking Scheduling Planning for growth Communication

Responsibilities of gifted coordinator : 

Responsibilities of gifted coordinator Maintain district records Assist specialists and cluster teachers Assure equity and excellence for diverse groups of gifted learners Stay current on gifted education issues Advocate for gifted students Communicate with stakeholders Plan for ongoing evaluation of programming Problem-solve and trouble shoot Be a cheerleader for clustering!

For more information on clustering… : 

For more information on clustering… Consider books such as this one, available from Free Spirit Press

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