Monthly Archives: June 2019
Cluster Grouping is used in mixed-ability classrooms. GT students are ‘clustered’ together. This facilitates differentiated instruction enabling teachers to better meet the needs of ALL students.
Isn’t Cluster Grouping the same as tracking? ‘Tracking’ is an approach historically fraught with negative connotations. Students placed on a track remained there throughout their education K-12. Cluster Grouping is not ‘tracking’. It is flexible, addresses specific needs, and can be realigned when necessary. It avoids putting ALL students into permanent tracks while allowing all students to explore their personal academic potential.
Teachers using Cluster Grouping reported increased identification, awareness, and understanding of students’ needs. They felt instructional strategies were more effective. GT students are more at ease learning with intellectual peers and able to explore content more deeply. Inappropriate behaviors are curtailed. Cluster Grouping provides GT students with gifted education opportunities that are cost-effective for school districts experiencing budgetary constraints.
It’s essential that Cluster Teachers have specialized training in teaching GT students. They should know how to recognize and nurture GT, and allow them to demonstrate mastery. Cluster Teachers should be able to provide accelerated pacing, allow for independent study, and facilitate sophisticated research opportunities. (Winebrenner)
Won’t the presence of GT Cluster Groups inhibit the performance of other students? Over 30 years of research (Feldhusen ’89, Rogers ’93, Gentry ’99, Brulles ’05, Plucker ’10, Pierce ’11) says otherwise. GT Cluster Groups don’t inhibit other students. Size matters. Keeping groups to a manageable size has shown to improve achievement for all students (Winebrenner).
Schools need to be realistic about their access to and ability to provide necessary resources required to implement Cluster Grouping. Professional development in GT must be required for all teachers, admins, and staff involved in developing and instituting Cluster Grouping, AND be ongoing. Expectations and well-established norms must precede establishment of Cluster Grouping in a school district to ensure the success of students and the program. Successful Cluster Grouping involves embedded PD, advisors and mentors for teachers, expertise in advance scheduling, and parent and community involvement. A transcript of this chat can be found at Wakelet.
Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at Noon NZST/10 AM AEST/1 AM UK to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.
About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: email@example.com
The Cluster Grouping Handbook (pdf preview)
CTD Hosts Conference on Cluster Grouping ( October 2018)
Todd Talks – Cluster Grouping (YouTube 13:14)
Meta-analytic Findings on Grouping Programs (Abstract Only)
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.
Strengths-based learning curriculum takes into consideration how best a student learns and relies on the student’s individual profile. It focuses on the student’s interests; is modified through ongoing assessment; and recognizes a student’s advanced abilities. Strengths-based learning does not focus on areas of weakness and therefore is not predicated on remediation.
To encourage growth: twice-exceptional (2e) learners need a psychologically safe environment, tolerance for asynchronous behaviors, time, positive relationships; and a strength-based, talent-focused environment. (Baum, Schader, and Owen 2017) Neurodiversity-inspired educators create positive ecosystems within which students with learning differences can learn according to their strengths rather than their weaknesses. (“First Discover Their Strengths” Tomas Armstrong. Educational Leadership October 2012)
Emphasizing 2E students’ strengths provides opportunities for student choice, links new content to previous knowledge, and provides appropriate support from both gifted and learning support teachers and staff. Strengths-based learning includes support for social emotional needs of 2E students through provision of extra time to complete assignments, developing self-advocacy skills, and the teaching of stress management skills.
How does one discover student’ strengths? Students can engage in self-reflection: “What am I already good at?” “What will help me get to my goals?” “How can I use my strengths to achieve my goals?” Profiles can be created based on past performance, current interests, and teacher and parent observations.
Engaging students in strengths-based learning starts by offering an entry point related to an area in which they’ve already shown talent; perhaps in performance arts rather than writing. Students may respond positively to strengths-based learning through using novel introduction of new concepts such as involving guest speakers, experts demonstrating concepts, or field trips.
How can teachers incorporate dual-differentiation effectively in the classroom? Dual-differentiation requires that teachers and staff coordinate efforts and engage in extensive planning before introducing differentiated curriculum. Whenever possible, consider highly personalized curriculum to meet student needs. Ability grouping and flexible grouping can improve the effectiveness of strengths-based learning. Grouping can be predicated on ability, interests, and desired outcomes. A transcript of this chat may be found at Wakelet.
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad