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Cluster Grouping: Finding the Right Fit for GT Students

 

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.

 Lisa Conrad About the authorLisa 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: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Resources:

Cluster Grouping: Finding the Fit (pdf)

A Menu of Options for Grouping Gifted Students

Emphasize Flexibility and Adaptability When Grouping Students

The Cluster Grouping Handbook (pdf preview)

Cluster Grouping of Gifted Students FAQs (pdf)

NZ: Cluster Grouping for the Gifted and Talented: It Works! (pdf)

Fort Bend ISD: Gifted and Talented Services 2018 – 2019 Handbook (P. 12) (pdf)

The Schoolwide Cluster Grouping Model (pdf)

Teaching in the Schoolwide Cluster Grouping Model (pdf)

Advanced Learner: Multi-Tiered System of Support Guide (pdf)

Gifted Resources for School Teachers, Counselors and Administrators

Cluster Grouping Fact Sheet: How to Provide Full-Time Services for Gifted Students on Existing Budgets

Grouping

Why Cluster Grouping Benefits Gifted Children

What is Cluster Grouping? (pdf)

CTD Hosts Conference on Cluster Grouping ( October 2018)

Todd Talks – Cluster Grouping (YouTube 13:14)

Improving Performance for Gifted Students in a Cluster Grouping Model

Grouping Gifted Students

Cybraryman’s Learning Page

AUS: Revisiting Gifted Education

What do gifted students need? (pdf)

Meta-analytic Findings on Grouping Programs (Abstract Only)

Image courtesy of Pixabay Pixabay License

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

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When Full Inclusion Fails Gifted Students

Full inclusion was first used in regards to special education; a situation in which parents pushed for and sought legal solutions to compel schools to not place their children in separate classrooms. Full inclusion for gifted education means that GT students are kept in the regular classroom and the classroom teacher is responsible for differentiating instruction to meet the needs of students.

Most reasons for insisting on full inclusion of GT students are based on myths which claim  these students will be fine on their own. School personnel often cite personal biased reasoning for why students should be kept in the regular classroom; that these students already possess intellectual advantage and no further accommodation should be needed.

What are some of negative impacts of full inclusion for GT students? It doesn’t take long to see the negative impact of mixed ability classrooms on GT students. Teasing and outright bullying can lead to being socially ostracized by age-peers. In classrooms where teachers are expected to meet the needs of wide-ranging abilities, GT students are generally a low priority. When these students are not challenged, they are unprepared to face challenges when they do come.

Curriculum differentiation has the potential to work for high ability students, but few educators receive adequate training to provide quality differentiation that meets these students’ needs. The academic needs of high ability students go well beyond curriculum. GT students learn best when educated with intellectual peers and by teachers trained to work with them.

What are some alternatives to full inclusion that work? Some of the best alternatives are multi-age, standalone programs where GT students are challenged by ability. Many forms of acceleration are excellent alternatives for GT students and cost-effective for schools with tight budgets. Some options include early entrance, dual-enrollment, subject and whole grade acceleration.

What approach can parents take to seek real solutions when inclusion isn’t working? Parents must engage in well-informed advocacy; know school district policy and finances, learn about possible alternatives, attend school board meetings, and know who the decision makers are at the state level. Most parents soon learn that there is power in numbers when trying to influence school policy decisions, availability of programs for GT learners, and potential extra-curricular activities. Parent advocacy groups are essential. A transcript of this chat may 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 1PM NZST/11 AM AEST/Midnight 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.

 Lisa Conrad About the authorLisa 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: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Resources:

Highly Gifted Children in Full Inclusion Classrooms

Gifted Programs: Is Inclusion the Answer?

Educating Gifted Students in Regular Classroom: Efficacy, Attitudes and Differentiation of Instruction (pdf)

The Gifted Child and the Inclusive Classroom (pdf)

Teaching Gifted Students in Full-Inclusion Classrooms

The Purpose of a Self-Contained Classroom

Threat or Challenge? Teacher Beliefs about Gifted Students and their Relationship to Teacher Motivation

Teacher Perspective on Differentiation for Gifted Students in the General Education Classroom (pdf)

Teacher Attitudes towards Gifted Education in Rural School Districts (pdf)

Competing with Myths about the Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Students

The Development of the Educators’ Attitudes toward Gifted Education Scale (pdf)

Factors That Promote/Inhibit Teaching Gifted Students in a Regular Class: Results from a Professional Development Program for Chemistry Teachers

The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners, 2nd Edition via @ASCD

Developing Exemplary Gifted Programs: Programs: What does the research say? What does the research say? (pdf)

Future Trends in Gifted Education (TEMPO – pdf)

How and Why Teachers Need to Support Gifted Students

Ability and Performance Comparisons of Gifted Students in Homogeneous and Heterogeneous Settings (pdf)

Practitioners’ Conceptions of Academic Talent and Giftedness: Essential Factors in Deciding Classroom and School Composition (pdf)

Celebrating Mediocrity? How Schools Shortchange Gifted Students

Inequitable Access to Gifted Education

Navigating the Education System: Empowering Parents for Effective Advocacy (pdf)

The Case for Gifted Education as an Equity Issue

Cybraryman’s Inclusion Page

Black-White Gap Widens Faster for High Achievers

Image courtesy of Pixabay   Pixabay License

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Is Differentiated Instruction a Hollow Promise?

classhands

Volumes have been written about differentiating instruction for all learners in the inclusive classroom. It sounds wonderful in theory, but how practical is it to expect one teacher to differentiate a lesson to accommodate up to 6 different grade levels in one classroom? With emphasis placed on bringing up the lowest achievers to proficiency and teachers’ evaluations on the line, who stands most to loose from this approach?

This week’s #gtchat explored the practicality of differentiation. It was not surprising the strong showing of teachers at this chat. Few thought it was a bad idea, but even fewer had seen differentiation actually occur in their schools. There was consensus on a few points – differentiation requires ongoing professional development and ability grouping to work for high ability learners. Otherwise, it is a mere excuse to save the school district money by forgoing its obligations to provide all students with the opportunity to experience annual growth. A full transcript of the chat may be found here.

Links:

Is Differentiated Instruction a Hollow Promise?

On Differentiation

Gifted Issues: Davidson Database “Is Differentiated Instruction a Hollow Promise?”

What Research Says About Differentiated Learning

All Together Now Educating High and Low Achievers in the Same Classroom

The Icarus Syndrome: Why Do Some High Flyers Soar While Others Fall?” (pdf)

How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed Ability Classrooms (Google Books Preview) Carol Ann Tomlinson

The Rationale for Differentiated Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms via @ASCD

Investigating the Impact of Differentiated Instruction in Mixed Ability Classrooms (pdf)

Palo Alto USD Suspends All Gifted Programing

Educating Gifted Students in Reg Classroom: Efficacy, Attitudes, & Differentiation

of Instruction (pdf)

Gifted Challenges: Eliminate gifted education (?)

The Differentiator from @ByrdseedGifted

Using Bulletin Boards to Differentiate the Classroom Environment 

Cybraryman’s Differentiated Instruction Page

A Case Against Differentiated Instruction” by Ginger Lewman

Integrating Differentiated Instruction & Understanding by Design (Chapter 1) from ASCD

Gifted and Talented Differentiated Instruction Livebinder from Leslie Graves

Differentiation Livebinder from Leslie Graves

Clip art courtesy of Discovery Education.

Gifted Advocacy: What’s the Point?

What’s the point of gifted advocacy? This is the question we tried to answer. Too many advocates these days seem to be focusing on everything except the gifted child and their ‘right’ to an appropriate education. Of all groups studied in today’s classrooms, the identified gifted learner is making the least progress. Having topped out on most standardized tests, what will make the difference in the life of these kids? A full transcript may be found here.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented on Twitter happens weekly on Fridays at 7PM ET/6PM CT in the U.S., Midnight in the UK and 11.00 in Australia (ET) on Saturdays. Polls for topic selection are posted on Tuesdays and the link is posted by @gtchatmod on Twitter. Please join us!

Links:

Why Geniuses Don’t Need Gifted Education” 

The Wrong Argument for Gifted Education” via Gifted Exchange

Why Gifted Students Still Need Gifted Education!!” via @davis_joy 

RED ALERT: Gifted Education is a Civil Rights Issue” via @DeborahMersino

Preaching to the Choir: Thinking About Gifted Advocacy” from Crushing Tall Poppies

Professor James J Gallagher: “Advocacy for Gifted Education a National Priority

Paradise Valley USD in AZ Gifted Program with Self-contained Classrooms.

Cybraryman’s Gifted Advocacy Page

Needed: Parent Advocacy

Social Networking – Impacting the World of Gifted Education

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