Schoolwide Cluster Grouping for Gifted Students
Gifted identified students are clustered into gifted cluster classrooms with teachers who have been designated as such by their school principals. Gifted Cluster teachers hold a gifted endorsement issued by the state of Arizona, or are working toward acquiring one. Gifted Specialists assist Gifted Cluster teachers with scheduling, provide professional development in gifted education, and facilitate with the planning and implementation of differentiated curriculum and instruction through regularly scheduled monthly Gifted Cluster teacher meetings and during other staff development times. In this model, gifted students receive differentiated curriculum and instruction in all content areas on a daily basis.
In The Schoolwide Cluster Grouping Model, gifted students are clustered into a mixed-ability classrooms at each grade level. The teacher has had training in understanding, planning for, and instructing gifted students. If there are more than eight gifted students in the grade level, two or more clusters may be formed.
High-average students are placed into classrooms without the gifted clusters to create a balance of ability/achievement levels in classes across the grade level. Because all classes maintain a slightly narrowed range of performance and abilities, this method of grouping students does not represent a tracking system.
Classroom compositions are carefully structured with two main goals: to ensure that there is a balance throughout the grade level, and to reduce the learning range found in any given classroom. This system provides opportunities for teachers to more readily respond to the needs of all their students.
Gifted cluster teachers plan appropriately challenging instruction for their gifted students. Cluster Teacher Coach, Nancy Stanton, is employed to mentor and support PV's gifted cluster teachers. This may involve acceleration, enrichment, and various extended learning opportunities targeted to develop the following skills through learning in the content areas:
- Logical thinking
- Reasoning skills
- Critical and creative thinking
Gifted students receive instruction that is differentiated in content, process, product, learning environment, and assessment:
- Content — Complex, abstract ideas presented in a variety of disciplines, including interdisciplinary curriculum
- Process — Higher-level thinking through Bloom’s Taxonomy and the Multiple Intelligences
- Products — Alternative methods of demonstrating mastery with a range of complexity
- Learning environment — Student-centered, flexible grouping based on readiness, interests, and abilities
- Assessments — Pre-assessment and testing out-of-grade level curriculum.
Cluster Grouping Information & Resources: Books, Articles, and Research
- Learn more about the Schoolwide Cluster Grouping Model in this four-part series on: implementation, administrative support, tips for success, and sustaining and evaluating progress in the model.
- Six Strategies for Gifted Learners - An interview with Dr. Dina Brulles, Ph.D., Janice Mak and Susan Flores from ASCD Education Update April 16, 2016, Volume 58
- Blog article about Gifted Cluster Grouping by Dr. Dina Brulles, Ph.D.
- Cluster Grouping of Gifted Students - Frequently Asked Questions - By Susan Winebrenner, M.S. - Adapted from ERIC Digest EDO-EC-01-2
- "The Cluster Grouping Handbook: How to Challenge Gifted Students and Improve Achievement for All" - A Schoolwide Cluster Grouping Model By Dina Brulles, Ph.D. and Susan Winebrenner, M.S., by Free Spirit Publishing.
- "Maximizing Gifted Students’ Potential in the 21st Century" from the American Association of School Administrators, e-Journal - By Dina Brulles, Ph.D. and Susan Winebrenner, M.S.