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Action Alert: Cluster Grouping for your child

May 28, 2011

Please forward this to other parents of advanced and gifted students who would benefit from cluster grouping!

We are quickly approaching when teachers and the principals will begin dividing the students into their classes for next year.  One effective method of helping with curriculum differentiation for gifted students is cluster groups.  I’ve collected information about this gifted education option from a number of different sources and posted it on Rochester SAGE.

Now is the time to contact your principal and teacher to let them know that you would like your child clustered with other gifted students next year.

A sample form letter is below.  If you want, you can use it or make changes to personalize it to your situation.

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Dear (Principal/Teacher),

Thank you for the assistance that has been given students who are advanced and gifted.  We are glad that you believe appropriate education for each student is necessary.

As you and the teachers divide up students into their classes for next year, we ask that you use cluster grouping for the high achievers. From Helping Gifted Children Soar:

A permanent cluster group includes all the gifted children from a single grade level. Here’s how it works. Suppose an elementary school has 100 second-grade students, 25 in each of four classes. There are seven students who have been identified as gifted. But because the school has a limited budget, it has no gifted resource teacher and no special services for these students.

One way to serve these gifted children is to make sure that all of them are assigned to the same classroom and the same teacher. Research clearly demonstrates that gifted students need to be with other gifted children for at least part of every day. When they are grouped together, they enhance one another’s learning, have more opportunities to form friendships, and are less likely to feel isolated. Such grouping increases the likelihood that their needs – academic as well as social and emotional – can be met through this permanent cluster. (page 86)

The National Association for Gifted Children also has some great information on cluster grouping at http://www.nagc.org/index.aspx?id=162

Why Should Gifted Students Be Placed in a Cluster Group Instead of Being Assigned Evenly to All Classes?

When teachers try to meet the diverse learning needs of all students, it becomes extremely difficult to provide adequately for everyone. Often, the highest ability students are expected to “make it on their own.” When a teacher has several gifted students, taking the time to make appropriate provisions for them seems more realistic. Furthermore, gifted students can better understand and accept their learning differences if there are others just like them in the class. Finally, scheduling out-of-class activities is easier when the resource teacher has only one cluster teacher’s schedule with which to work.

What Are the Learning Needs of Gifted Students?

Since these students have previously mastered many of the concepts they are expected to “learn” in a given class, a huge part of their school time may be wasted. They need exactly what all other students need: consistent opportunity to learn new material and to develop the behaviors that allow them to cope with the challenge and struggle of new learning. It is very difficult for such students to have those needs met in heterogeneous classes.

What Are the Advantages of Cluster Grouping?

Gifted students feel more comfortable when there are other students just like them in the class. They are more likely to choose more challenging tasks when other students will also be eligible. Teachers no longer have to deal with the strain of trying to meet the needs of just one precocious student in a class. Teachers are also much more likely to provide appropriate learning opportunities if more than one student will benefit. The school is able to provide a full-time, cost-effective program for gifted students, since their learning needs are being met every day.

Thank you for your consideration of cluster grouping. We know that you are looking to provide the best education for all your students and many gifted educators and experts have cited cluster grouping as an effective way to provide gifted education in a resource-limited situation.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please feel free to contact us or read more about cluster grouping at RochesterSAGE.wordpress.com/cluster-grouping/.

Thank you,

(Your name)

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The principals for each elementary and middle school are listed below:

Elementary Schools
Baldwin Denise Bereznoff dbereznoff@rochester.k12.mi.us
Brewster Teresa DiMaria tdimaria@rochester.k12.mi.us
Brooklands Teresa Simonetti tsimonetti@rochester.k12.mi.us
Delta Kelly Marsha Andres mandres@rochester.k12.mi.us
Hamlin Gary Cornish gcornish@rochester.k12.mi.us
Hampton Charles Rowland crowland@rochester.k12.mi.us
Hugger Debi Fragomeni dfragomeni@rochester.k12.mi.us
Long Meadow April Wuest awuest@rochester.k12.mi.us
McGregor Sharen Howard showard@rochester.k12.mi.us
Meadow Brook Maria Etienne metienne@rochester.k12.mi.us
Musson Victoria Righter vrighter@rochester.k12.mi.us
North Hill Michael Behrmann mbehrmann@rochester.k12.mi.us
University Hills Amy Grande agrande@rochester.k12.mi.us
Middle Schools
Hart Dave Hurst dhurst@rochester.k12.mi.us
Reuther Cheryl A. Gambaro cgambaro@rochester.k12.mi.us
Van Hoosen Steve Cook scook@rochester.k12.mi.us
West Michael Dillon mdillon@rochester.k12.mi.us

Thank you for reading Rochester SAGE! Together we can make a difference for gifted children!

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