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    #174547 - 11/13/13 06:37 AM Re: Cluster grouping? [Re: blackcat]
    blackcat Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/23/13
    Posts: 2154
    No idea if they are following their own policy. When I first heard of the cluster grouping I looked it up on Wikipedia, and what this teacher is doing does not resemble that at all. I don't know if other cluster teachers are better or not. I know last year they split the 5 cluster kids between the 3 different teachers and a parent came once per week and pulled them out--so there wasn't even an official cluster teacher for that grade and the cluster kids weren't in the same class! That's now how it's supposed to work at all, even according to district policy!
    There is currently no g/t coordinator and I'm trying to figure out who to even address questions to (or send DD's outside testing!). I have heard great things about the magnet--if we can just figure out how to get through this year and get into it next year (it starts for 4th graders). Otherwise I'm going to start looking at other schools/districts. Luckily we can open enroll into other districts, it's just not always easy.

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    #174548 - 11/13/13 06:44 AM Re: Cluster grouping? [Re: blackcat]
    22B Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/10/13
    Posts: 1228
    Originally Posted By: blackcat
    There is a girl in the cluster group who is getting over 99.9 percentile on the MAP-like testing because she has been extensively after-schooled. Her mom lent me her completed/returned enrichment packet #1 so I could see what they are doing. Even she got about half of the problems wrong at first. How she was able to go back and figure out the correct answers without help, I don't know. Or maybe the teacher was helping her but DD hasn't gotten help yet.
    One of the questions shows a table which shows there were 75 peppers picked and the total weight of items picked was 15 pounds. Question: what is the average weight of the peppers? How would a kid figure this out if they had not been introduced to mean/median/average, etc.?
    Another problem is
    "Five different varieties of flowers are growing in the garden: carnations, roses, mums, marigolds, and lilies. Peter and Juanita are responsible for picking flowers and arranging them in vases to sell. They use three different types of flowers in each vase. How many different combinations can be made from the five varieties of flowers?"
    If they could talk to each other and figure out a strategy for how to solve this (with teacher intervening if they can't get it), it would be fine, but the kids are just left to try to get it on their own. The teacher did write on the paper "There are more combinations than 6" when the kid got it wrong the first time. But DD got her enrichment pack back and says she still has no idea what to do on that problem. I haven't seen it because it doesn't come home until they get everything correct. She may be on packet #1 the entire year!

    I sent an email (with a return receipt since she never replied to the last email I sent) saying that I would be happy to come in and help the cluster group with math. We'll see if she replies.


    FWIW "average" is a red herring. Just assume they're the same weight and divide.

    The 2nd problem is about combinations.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combinations
    The answer is "5 choose 3" which is 10. The students would have no way of knowing that theory, but they could just systematically list the possibilities:
    ABC
    ABD
    ABE
    ACD
    ACE
    ADE
    BCD
    BCE
    BDE
    CDE

    That said, you're right that they should be put in a group and explicitly instructed.



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    #174550 - 11/13/13 06:50 AM Re: Cluster grouping? [Re: blackcat]
    blackcat Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/23/13
    Posts: 2154
    Yes, but she didn't know what was meant by "average"--didn't understand the question. The other girl reported the answer as 1/5 with no label which isn't techinically correct (probably should be a decimal) but the teacher took it.

    I told her what to do for the combinations (list them all--I figured the teacher would be suspicious if she suddenly did some sort of advanced statistical computation)--so hopefully she will remember.

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    #174562 - 11/13/13 07:51 AM Re: Cluster grouping? [Re: blackcat]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4954
    Quote:
    This cluster grouping sounds good on paper but in reality it seems rather ridiculous.
    Agreed. From the information provided, this may be named "cluster grouping" to sell it. These links provide more information on flexible cluster grouping by readiness and ability:
    - http://www.casenex.com/casenet/pages/virtualLibrary/gridlock/groupmyths.html, (archived on WayBack Machine https://web.archive.org/web/20210511071601/http://www.casenex.com/casenet/pages/virtualLibrary/gridlock/groupmyths.html)
    - web search on Gentry Total School Cluster Grouping TSCG,(one current link is: http://nrcgt.uconn.edu/newsletters/spring964/)
    - http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.3102/0034654316675417.
    - School Cluster Grouping Model (SCGM), Winebrenner/Brulles.

    Quote:
    I'm not sure what the point is of even putting them in the same class.
    A possible positive may be that students become aware of who the others in the group are, giving rise to the opportunity to meet outside of school and develop friendships... including the parents meeting each other, for possible support. It sounds like you may be leveraging those opportunities to some degree. Therefore, while not ideal, the school providing this may be better than your child being an isolate.

    Here are some program buzzwords, with un-official BTDT descriptions (see updated thread here):

    Cluster grouping. Originally called flexible cluster grouping to distinguish it from tracking. May include pupils from different grade-levels. A pupil may be advanced in one or more subjects. Students may have single-subject acceleration (SSA) of one or more years. The ideal may be flexible cluster grouping by readiness and ability, regardless of age or grade level, therefore combining children of various ages, classrooms, and grade levels. Unfortunately, the buzzword "cluster grouping" may be used (mis-used) to mean one or more gifted kids within a particular classroom, somewhat isolated, not necessarily being taught at a higher level but rather being treated as somewhat auto-didactic (often due to schools buying into the myth that because they are gifted, they will be fine on their own).

    Differentiation. The pupil's school experience is somehow different within the classroom. Differentiation may be the favorite buzzword, as it is sufficiently nebulous as to what is "different" for the student's educational experience. Too often the difference may be in work-products expected (differentiated task demands), possibly including more stringent grading criteria, rather than a qualitatively different instructional level and pacing. In general, gifted kids and advanced learners need and may benefit from "differentiated instruction" (not "differentiated task demands" which may seem punitive). Limiting repetition may be appropriate for differentiating the curriculum and experience for gifted learners.

    Enrichment. The pupil experiences additional material to provide depth and/or breadth in the area being studied. This may be done to help fill "wait time" while the other students catch up. A common example may be choosing a book to read more about the topic being studied.

    Independent study. The pupil experiences enrichment which extends beyond filling the "wait time" in the school day. This may be an optional or assigned research/report activity, building a project, developing a presentation, etc. This may involve exclusion from classmates, and social isolation. This may also divert time from preferred extracurricular activities.

    More-ferentiation. A term attributed to Lisa Van Gemert, Mensa Youth Specialist, referring to "differention" gone awry to consist of pupils experiencing quantitatively MORE work, rather than qualitatively different work.

    Pull-out. One or more pupils leave the classroom, often once a week, for 20 minutes. This experience may range from receiving advanced instruction to essentially "babysitting" these pupils while those remaining in the gen ed classroom receive instruction. Some students have reported receiving worksheets during pull-out, intended to be completed during wait-time the following week. A "pull-out" only tells that the gifted program/service is taking place outside the classroom... it is a vague "where". It does not tell who, what, when, etc.

    Scaffolding. Temporary support for a student to move up to a higher tier. This may often be provided by parents as after-schooling, a summer program, a university class, or may more rarely be an in-school support class providing instruction in study skills, note-taking, etc.

    Tiers. Providing various levels of educational experiences to students based on their departure from the norm in ability/achievement. This still does not tell a parent what the educational experience is... a worksheet?... two worksheets?

    Tracking. A rather permanent group consisting of age-peers moving together through the grade levels. Pupils are generally advanced in all subjects. Commonly receiving curriculum instruction one grade level ahead of gen-ed age-peers. For many HG+ pupils, this is not enough curriculum advancement for them to learn something new each day, remain challenged, and engaged/achieving. When kids get on the "track" they typically do not leave; Similarly, new kids may have a difficult time getting on the track, as a "track" is generally considered closed. A magnet-school-within-a-school may be a form of tracking: a student is either in it, or not.

    Tutoring. Unfortunately, the pupil may not be receiving tutoring as a means of individual or small-group advanced academic instruction, but rather may be assigned to peer-tutor other classmates or function in some other way as a teacher's helper. (Also known as "cooperative learning" or "collaborative learning".)

    In reading this list, parents may see that there may be quite a bit of overlap, and the same activity may be called several things. For example using a coloring book during wait-time may be called "differentiation", "enrichment", "tier 2"... it may be called a "cluster" even if it is a cluster of one pupil. If students move to a location outside the classroom to color during wait-time, this may be called a pull-out. Similarly, peer-tutoring may be called "differentiation" or "enrichment" as a euphemism for what is occurring. In the case described, the educational experience was earlier called differentiation, now clustering or "ability-group". Buzzwords can be used by teachers/schools/districts to create a kind of shell-game, by re-naming the experience to make it seem new-and-improved without substantially changing the content or delivery. Point being, parents are wise to look beyond the program labels and buzzwords to ascertain the quality of their child's educational experience. Much of which may be busy work: A distinction without a difference.

    To help get beyond buzzwords, this post suggests learning the 5Ws of a gifted program: Who, What Where, When, Why, and How.

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    #174621 - 11/13/13 12:13 PM Re: Cluster grouping? [Re: epoh]
    HowlerKarma Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/05/11
    Posts: 5181
    Originally Posted By: epoh
    That's not "poor instruction" that NO INSTRUCTION. I would have a meeting w/this teacher, STAT. Just because your child is gifted doesn't mean they learn things via magic.


    Agreed. This sounds more punitive than anything else. Each of the children in the "cluster" is systematically isolated from the other children in the classroom, using learning needs and differentiated materials as a tool to accomplish that punishment.

    I've been told by my spouse that the engineering-preferred term, by the way is "FM" when the process is opaque, poorly documented, assumed rather than actual, or-- er, random. Magic is the second part of the acronym, apparently. wink


    "So how exactly are the students offered instruction regarding the material that they are expected to have mastered?"

    "What process did you use to move from this step to that one in your proof?"

    "How, exactly, does that flux-capacitor work?"



    "FM."

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    This helpful service announcement brought to you by the Dilbert Workplace Environment.

    _________________________
    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.

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    #174625 - 11/13/13 12:55 PM Re: Cluster grouping? [Re: blackcat]
    ultramarina Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/24/10
    Posts: 3428
    The flower problem looks like enrichment problems my DD has been getting for several years now. I did show her how to do this sort of thing initially and now she (usually) remembers to list out possible combos systematically. However, she had to be given the concept first or she would have just kind of fumbled with it, I think.

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    #174627 - 11/13/13 01:38 PM Re: Cluster grouping? [Re: blackcat]
    blackcat Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/23/13
    Posts: 2154
    I haven't seen DD's personal packet so don't know how she was attempting to solve it but I'm imagining drawings of actual flowers. smile

    This other girl's paper was a mess with lots of erasing.

    Once I showed DD how to write out the first letter of each flower she was like "oh yeah, ok." If the teacher had just spent 30 seconds showing them an example problem, all of these kids probably could have figured it out.

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    #174628 - 11/13/13 01:41 PM Re: Cluster grouping? [Re: HowlerKarma]
    blackcat Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/23/13
    Posts: 2154
    Originally Posted By: HowlerKarma
    Originally Posted By: epoh
    That's not "poor instruction" that NO INSTRUCTION. I would have a meeting w/this teacher, STAT. Just because your child is gifted doesn't mean they learn things via magic.


    Agreed. This sounds more punitive than anything else. Each of the children in the "cluster" is systematically isolated from the other children in the classroom, using learning needs and differentiated materials as a tool to accomplish that punishment.

    I've been told by my spouse that the engineering-preferred term, by the way is "FM" when the process is opaque, poorly documented, assumed rather than actual, or-- er, random. Magic is the second part of the acronym, apparently. wink


    "So how exactly are the students offered instruction regarding the material that they are expected to have mastered?"

    "What process did you use to move from this step to that one in your proof?"

    "How, exactly, does that flux-capacitor work?"



    "FM."

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    This helpful service announcement brought to you by the Dilbert Workplace Environment.


    She says she likes doing the enrichment packet--extreme confusion must win over extreme boredom. smile
    I don't know--hopefully it will get easier as she gets the hang of these types of word problems.

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    #174632 - 11/13/13 02:51 PM Re: Cluster grouping? [Re: blackcat]
    HowlerKarma Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/05/11
    Posts: 5181
    Originally Posted By: blackcat
    I haven't seen DD's personal packet so don't know how she was attempting to solve it but I'm imagining drawings of actual flowers. smile

    This other girl's paper was a mess with lots of erasing.

    Once I showed DD how to write out the first letter of each flower she was like "oh yeah, ok." If the teacher had just spent 30 seconds showing them an example problem, all of these kids probably could have figured it out.


    Yeah, there is a HUGE difference between "fully autodidactic" and "needs little instruction."

    HG+ kids aren't even entirely in the latter group. Mine sure isn't. Even with really good supporting resources, she still has to ask the occasional question. If she does, it's instantaneous epiphany 90% of the time. If she doesn't, she may churn over something little for a very long time. I've had no real luck convincing educators that some children need about 10% of the instruction. Not 0%.

    _________________________
    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.

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    #174633 - 11/13/13 02:55 PM Re: Cluster grouping? [Re: blackcat]
    Dude Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/04/11
    Posts: 2856
    Originally Posted By: blackcat
    I haven't seen DD's personal packet so don't know how she was attempting to solve it but I'm imagining drawings of actual flowers. smile

    This other girl's paper was a mess with lots of erasing.

    Once I showed DD how to write out the first letter of each flower she was like "oh yeah, ok." If the teacher had just spent 30 seconds showing them an example problem, all of these kids probably could have figured it out.


    Yeah, my DD brings home these kinds of problems, too. She'll randomly guess at the possible solutions, so I have to show her how to approach it systematically to ensure she doesn't miss any.

    And yeah, she'll start drawing flowers.

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