The Cluster Grouping Handbook: A Schoolwide Model: How to Challenge Gifted Students and Improve Achievement for All


In today’s standards-driven era, how can teachers motivate and challenge gifted learners and ensure that all students reach their potential—without major budget implications? This book provides a compelling answer: the Schoolwide Cluster Grouping Model (SCGM). The authors explain how the model differs from grouping practices of the past, and they present a roadmap for implementing, sustaining, and evaluating schoolwide cluster grouping. Practitioners will find a wealth of teacher-tested classroom strategies ...
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In today’s standards-driven era, how can teachers motivate and challenge gifted learners and ensure that all students reach their potential—without major budget implications? This book provides a compelling answer: the Schoolwide Cluster Grouping Model (SCGM). The authors explain how the model differs from grouping practices of the past, and they present a roadmap for implementing, sustaining, and evaluating schoolwide cluster grouping. Practitioners will find a wealth of teacher-tested classroom strategies along with detailed information on identifying students for clusters, gaining support from parents, and providing ongoing professional development. Digital content features customizable reproducible forms and a PowerPoint presentation designed for in-service training.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"With this one book alone, you could revamp a whole school system, one school at a time. With this concept of cluster grouping, a school district could save all the costs of a self-contained or pull-out gifted program. And if you take this flat out declaration seriously, The Cluster Grouping Handbook will do all the thinking, all the planning, all the charting, and all the predicting you will ever the ultimate meticulous detail. This is not an exaggeration. Every finite element for planning has been the book! It has wonderful ideas." —Gifted Education Communicator

“The spark for academic achievement and motivation to learn ignited by the gifted students is becoming contagious within the cluster grouping classrooms. Using SCGM throughout the entire Tulpehocken elementary learning community is increasing success for all students.” —Lisa Kiss, director of Special Education, Tulpehacken, Pennsylvania

“This book has been a valuable resource in setting up our GATE Clusters to meet the needs of all students. Cluster grouping has proven to be very successful in building the programs required to challenge and enrich our classrooms.”—Tony Peterson, principal, Russell Ranch School, FCUSD (Folsom Cordova, CA)

“I used The Cluster Grouping Handbook as a gifted-cluster teacher with great success. When I oversaw the implementation of the schoolwide cluster model at my school, it became my ‘go-to guide’ because it provides concrete, immediately usable tools for managing differentiation in the classroom. I continue to use it in my current position as the gifted coordinator for my district; it is truly one of my staples in professional development for cluster teachers.”—Kim Lanese, M.Ed., gifted coordinator at Deer Valley Unified School District in Phoenix, Arizona

Children's Literature - Meredith Kiger
Written by two teachers of gifted students and based on the research of Dr. Brulles, the Schoolwide Cluster Grouping Model (SCGM) is a method that INCLUDES gifted students in a classroom rather than having them isolated in a special classroom. Nationally, gifted or high achieving students have been out of favor politically due to No Child Left Behind, and the authors feel that the future of America's scientific community is impaired by our neglecting to provide the best education for this population. Clustering high achieving students within the regular classroom according to SCGM guidelines positively affects the achievement levels of all students, promotes leadership, and narrows the range of student abilities within a classroom, a plus for the teacher. The book provides all the steps for a school to take in implementing this program, including sample letters for parents, graphics, charts, and rubrics for teachers. The book makes it sound simpler than it is, as all staff in the school and parents must agree to it and commit the time and effort it takes to successfully implement the program. Attitude is a lot more difficult than behavior to change in education. The book and accompanying CD would be the workbook for each staff member as they go through the three year process of successfully learning and implementing the program. The book is well written and with a knowledgeable guide, the program is an attainable goal. Reviewer: Meredith Kiger, Ph.D.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781575422794
  • Publisher: Free Spirit Publishing, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/15/2008
  • Edition description: Book with Digital Content
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 329,073
  • Age range: 5 - 13 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Winebrenner is a full-time consultant in staff development. She presents workshops and seminars nationally and internationally, helping educators translate educational research into classroom practice.
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Table of Contents

List of Reproducible Pages

List of Figures

Foreword by Bertie Kingore, Ph.D


Why Meet the Learning Needs of High-Ability Students?
Meeting the Needs of All Students:
The Schoolwide Cluster Grouping Model (SCGM)
What the Research Says
About Cluster Grouping
The SCGM: Who Benefits, and How?

Impact of the SCGM on Gifted Students
Impact of the SCGM on English Language Learners
Impact of the SCGM on All Students
Impact of the SCGM on Teachers
Impact of the SCGM on Administrators
Impact of the SCGM on Parents

About This Book and Digital Content
A Note to Administrators: Tapping into a Cluster Grouping Network

Part 1: Implementing the Schoolwide Cluster Grouping Model (SCGM)

Chapter 1: What Is the SCGM? How Does It Work?

Overview of the SCGM
Placing Students in Cluster Groups

Purposeful Placement of All Students in All Classes
Special Considerations
Considerations for Middle Schools
Configuring the Cluster Classrooms

Other Placement Considerations

Cluster Grouping in Multi-Age Classes
Serving Kindergarten and Primary Gifted Students
When New Gifted Students Enroll During the School Year
Placing Students Over Time

What the SCGM Looks Like in the Gifted-Cluster Classroom
Clustering When Combined with Other Forms of Grouping or Gifted-Education Services

Cluster Grouping with Pull-Out Services
Cluster Grouping with Regrouping for Content Replacement
Cluster Grouping with Flexible Grouping
Cluster Grouping with Both Content Replacement and Flexible Grouping
Cluster Grouping with an Inclusion Model

Questions Teachers, Parents, or Other School Stakeholders May Ask

Chapter 2: Planning and Introducing the SCGM

Step-by-Step to SCGM Implementation

Developing a Timeline
Sharing Information with Principals, Teaching Staff, and Parents

Developing and Maintaining Support for the SCGM

Garnering Support for the SCGM in the School Community
Compatibility of the SCGM with Essential Gifted-Program Components
Teacher Engagement and Growth
Teacher Rotation
Performance Pay and the SCGM
Expectations and Involvement of Parents of Gifted Students
Communication to Parents from School Office Staff
Introduction Letters to Parents from the Gifted-Cluster Teachers
The Critical Role of the Building Principal


Chapter 3: Identifying Students for Gifted-Cluster Groups

Recognizing the Traits of Giftedness

Gifted Students’ Learning and Behavioral Characteristics
Giftedness in Creative Thinking and Production
Gifted Students in the Primary Grades
Gifted Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) Students
Traits to Look for in Culturally Diverse Students
Students Who Are Twice-Exceptional
Behaviors That May Indicate Twice-Exceptionality

Understanding the Social and Emotional Aspects of Giftedness

Characteristics That May Create Challenges in the Classroom
The Challenge of Perfectionism
Nonproductive Gifted Students
Gifted Students in Junior High or Middle School

Teacher and Parent Nominations

Recommended Forms to Include in a Teacher Nomination Packet
Recommended Forms to Include in a Parent Nomination Packet
Processing Nomination Information

Standardized Tests

Ability and Achievement Testing
Different Measures of Ability
Administering Ability Tests
Special Considerations When Identifying CLD Gifted Students

Parent Notification

Chapter 4: Staffing the SCGM

Getting Started: How to Determine Who Should Teach the Gifted-Cluster Classrooms
Roles and Responsibilities of the Gifted-Cluster Teacher
Roles and Responsibilities of Support Specialists

Gifted Specialist or Gifted Mentor
Gifted Coordinator

Budget Concerns

Part 2: The SCGM in Action: Working with Students in the Classroom

Chapter 5: Compacting and Differentiating Curriculum That Students Have Already Mastered

Five Elements of Differentiation
How Compacting Meets the Needs of Gifted Students

A Few Words About Extra Credit, Enrichment, and Extensions
Beyond Learning Extensions

Essential Teaching Skills for Gifted-Cluster Teachers

Curriculum Compacting
Curriculum Differentiation
Flexible Grouping Using Formative Assessments

Making Compacting and Differentiation Work Smoothly

Strategies for Compacting and Differentiating Previously Mastered Skill Work

Most Difficult First
Pretests with Extension Activities
Compacting and Differentiating for Students in Grades K–2
Learning Contracts
Using the Learning Contract Day by Day
Communicating with Parents About Learning
Contracts and Extension Activities

Keeping Records of Student Work

The Daily Log of Extension Activities
The Compactor Record Sheet
The Extension Activities Feedback Form

Grading Extension Work
What About Homework
Modifications of Compacting and Differentiation Techniques for the Whole Class

Most Difficult First for the Whole Class
Pretest for the Whole Class
Learning Contracts for the Whole Class

Building a Unified Learning Community

Designated Partner Talk
Classroom Academic Baseball
Academic Bowl


Chapter 6: Compacting and Differentiating Curriculum When the Content Is New to Students

Preparing to Work with Gifted Students in the Content Areas

Empowering Twice-Exceptional Students to Access Advanced Curriculum
Using Flexible Grouping in SCGM Classrooms
Using Learning Centers or Stations

Using the Curriculum Planning Chart

Planning Tiered Lessons

Using Bloom’s Taxonomy to Create Tiered Lessons
Incorporating Depth, Complexity, and Novelty into Curriculum Differentiation Planning

Record Keeping with the Choice Activities Log
Using Study Guides and Extension Menus to Compact and Extend Learning

Two Ways to Use the Study Guide

Using Extension Menus
A Word About Independent Study
Grading Independent Study Projects
Using Primary Sources in Internet Study
Preparing Your Own Study Guides and Extension Menus
Helpful Information When Using Study Guides and Extension Menus

Project-Based Learning for All Students

Sustaining a Unified Learning Community

Structured Partner Discussion
The Name Card Method (Think-Pair-Share) Socratic Seminars
Roundtable Discussions
Expert Jigsaw


Part 3: Sustaining the SCGM

Chapter 7: Professional Development for All Staff

Preparing All Teachers for Schoolwide Cluster Grouping
Professional Development Topics for SCGM Teachers

Topics of Particular Help to Gifted-Cluster Teachers
Topics That Help Teachers Address the Learning Needs of All Students
Finding Connections to the SCGM in All Staff Development Topics

What Are Effective Ways to Provide Ongoing Professional Training?

Teacher Workshops
Study Groups
Books Study Groups
Online Book Study Groups

Peer Coaching: Ensuring Long-Term

Implementation of Content Learned in Staff Development
Ongoing Meetings of SCGM Staff

Schoolwide Gifted-Cluster Teacher Meetings
Districtwide Meetings of Gifted-Cluster Teachers and Gifted Specialists
Gifted Specialist Meetings

Obtaining Gifted Endorsements or Certifications
Monitoring Teachers’ Professional Growth

Chapter 8: Evaluating the Effectiveness of the SCGM

Setting Goals for the SCGM
Establishing a Gifted-Student Database
Examining Student Progress Regarding Classroom Work

Monitoring Teacher Training and Development
Monitoring Individual Student Progress Grade by Grade
Assessments to Use in Documenting Student Achievement Outcomes in the SCGM

Monitoring Gifted Students’ Growth on Standardized Assessments

Achievement Data
Student Self-Evaluations

Evaluating the Effectiveness of the SCGM as a Whole

Obtaining Feedback from Teachers, Parents, and Students
What to Include in an End-of-Year
Summary Report


A Note to Parents


Appendix A: References and Resources
Appendix B: Glossary


About the Authors

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