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Meeting 7 Discussion Notes

Page history last edited by Meghan Hanson 9 years, 9 months ago


Clustering PLC

Meeting 7Evaluating the Cluster Grouping Model in American Studies

Monday, April 15, 2013, 2:15-3:35


  1. Grounding: What is something you’d like to share about your successes with clustering during second semester so far?

  • Kari- I don’t know any different but like having multiple students on ALPs in one class; we have an IEP cluster in American

  • Monica- the IEP cluster sort of happened along with all this

  • Jenny- ELL students all together a huge success: huge confidence building and community; ELL have become leaders in the class

  • Emily: it really put a focus on making sure teachers were differentiating for kids; really being intentional about planning; don’t know if any different from the past


  1. Review: Goals and meetings so far this year


  1. Successes & Struggles: Cluster Grouping Model (CGM) in American Studies


  1. Prep time

    1. What are some things that went well with the Cluster Grouping Model (CGM) as specifically related to American History/American Literature content and instructional practices?

      1. Identify specific instructional strategies that you used that supported the needs of students in your class.

  • Kari- thought more about English 9… helps a lot with creating groups whether ALPs or struggling, helps with both same-level and multiple ability

  • Jill- thoughtful about choice books, allowing choice but guiding suggestions for Choice Books so kids can access them; expanded choices for those books

  • Kari- offer lots of choice for projects and assessments

  • Jill- even writing questions from a more abstract to concrete

  • Kari- targeted tasks for some while others have more comprehensive tasks

  • Kari- gave same pre- and post- for Unit Three for knowledge and conceptual understanding

  • Jenny- from a more topical standpoint, we spent so much time on Civil Rights and in having the ELL group all together it makes much more comfortable to talk about; kids can be a little more honest and openly talk about it and their personal experiences.

  • Monica- I observed Deirdre’s class in a discussion about Immigration and it really opened up to that.

  • Monica- I also really liked that she asked who would like to read with her and there was no judgment about who chose to read with the teacher. I like that the kids felt comfortable doing that. I don’t know if that had to do with clustering or not.

  • Monica- from students and parents specific to English 9, the clustering from a GT position makes a nice transition. It has helped some of those kids who were in the GATE program for two years to be with like-minded individuals.

  • Kari- Nice to know it’s not just one kid alone.

  • Monica- I think that is a fear of a lot of students and parents coming from a program like GATE to the big high school.

  • Jenny and Kari- parents like to know their kids are with similar kids

  • Jenny- there aren’t a lot of low achievers in our GT cluster class at all (GT or not)

  • Kari- interesting to compare my sections of English 9 (the ones that have clusters and the ones that do not)

  1. What was your greatest success with the CGM?

    1. What evidence do you have that supports increased student achievement/engagement due to CGM?

  • Jenny- the learning contracts especially for the GT students

  • Monica- yes, the learning contracts really engaged the GT student

  • Jill- I redid the Culture Project with a series of scaffolded questions and gave the really concrete ones to the lower kids. It really challenged the ALP kids in a way that they hadn’t been challenges; it was all synthesis questions and a Socratic seminar; they came out with some pretty sophisticated comments. They rose to the occasion.

  • Kari- I have seen a lot of transfer from that project and they can answer larger questions in English 9 because of the work in Geography

  • Kari- the community just seems very engaged with the balance of ideas

  • Monica- having the like-minded piece helps

  • Monica- we can’t always guarantee the like-minded aspect when kids are just randomly scheduled

  • Kari- not just the clustering piece but when kids take on 9+ they do not have the option to disengage from the work


  1. What are some struggles with the CGM as specifically related to American History/American Literature content and instructional practices?

    1. What would eliminate these struggles? What can you do to prevent these struggles in the future?

  • Jill- finding some resources that would help and engage the IEP or lower kids

  • Jenny- we have a lot for ALPs and 10+ but we have a huge gap in resources for IEP and ELL students

  • Jenny- there’s only one option… the “book for the kids who can’t read book.” Has always been a concern.

  • Jenny- I would love to fill in the left column about Young Adult Literature or Middle School literature. How could we better utilize the Literacy Coaches or Media Specialist to help with this? Definitely need more Young Adult Lit. for Choice Books.

  • Monica- It would help too for the SEAL students. Same issue there.

  • Jenny- I think it’s tough for more kids than just the identified kids.

  • Jen M.- And there are a lot of kids that are just on the cusp and don’t have a plan

  • Monica- struggles with making the connections; they don’t have those strategies

  • Jenny- When we do those strategies in class it may not be as explicit.

  • Jenny- the other struggle for us…. There is such a big difference in the level of discussion between our ELL class and our GT class. We don’t have the advanced kids elevating the rest of the kids in our lower class this year. Then we have an abundance of them in the GT cluster class. Not fully sold on the GT cluster thing. Deirdre and I are for the ELL cluster class but not the GT cluster at this point in time. If there were only 4-5 GT kids it would be different. It becomes three kids having a discussion. It seems to go against the benefits of integration.

  1. What do we need to make the CGM more effective?

    1. To what extent did we meet our goals (above)? What would you do differently if we are to use the CGM again?

    2. What should our leadership do differently if we are to use the CGM again?

    3. What kind of professional development would we need?

  • Kari- We need to differentiate between the high and low ELL kids

  • Jenny- then you have kids who would benefit from being in the GT group but lack basic skills

  • Kari- In one class I have a bunch of students who have been exited but that is English 9 so I wonder if that is in a class of 25 versus 40.

  • Kari- Struggle is the numbers imbalance.

  • Jill- agrees

  • Jenny- our ALP class is much bigger

  • Monica- I don’ t think we ever intended to cluster the IEPs but it happened… the true cluster model would have ALPs but not high achievers. That’s the struggle of it at the high school level.

  • Kari- IEP is not technically part of this but they still get clustered in scheduling.

  • Jen M.- looking at the strategies for ELL and GT… they would work for IEP students too… since we are always going to have that range… strategies should be the same

  • Monica- why did you close the doors?

  • Jenny- I feel like I can make contact with every kid multiple times a class now

  • Jen M- some of the ways we have to modify for all students are scary to some of our teachers; we have to have conversations with our resource teachers and classroom teachers together

  • Jenny- If I am going to have an ELL cluster then I would want support from an ELL teacher.

  • Jenny- there is a gap there with support

  • Kari- our next step is then those targeted interventions

  • Jen M- maybe some more staff development on how do we make modifications for all students in all content areas at the secondary level?

  • Jenny- we could have better communication with the Academic Literacy teachers that would really benefit the ELL students.

  • Monica- In an ideal world, we would have a GT teacher pushing in too.

  • Jenny- but at least with them, I feel like I can support them.

  • Kari- I am the opposite there… as a specialist, it felt kind of isolated… really a big-picture discussion… we could be more mindful about the big picture and scheduling both staff and students

  • Jenny- more training in strategies and modifications

  • Jill- could go right along with the D/F conversations we are having in our departments

  • Jenny- I don’t know if a classroom teacher can really modify on the level that some kids need.

  • Jen M- There are a lot of really simple strategies and ways to gauge (that are actually modifications) and with super-low we need resource teachers to come in.

  • Kari- we need to think about what these classes actually look like

  • Monica- has it felt like tracking?

  • Jenny- not a ton but a little bit in the GT classroom

  1. Large group discussion:

    1. What are your take-aways about the CGM?

    2. If we do this again next year, what are our goals for the CGM?

    3. What commitments can you make or suggestions for future implementation?


  1. Survey to gauge what our students think of the CGM

    1. What kind of feedback would be helpful? What do we want to know from our students?

    2. Brainstorm two questions you would like to see included on a survey of students. See pages 191 and 195 in The Cluster Grouping Handbook for ideas if necessary.

  • Jenny- Were your needs met? We could specify intellectual/academic/social/emotional. Give space under each one so it’s not all clumped together.

  • Kari- what specific assignments or tasks challenged you?

  • Monica- asking them if they knew they were clustered? Did it feel any different (than either last year for 10th or other classes for 9th).

  • Monica- What types of activities or strategies did the teachers do to help you learn?

  • Jill- a question about the levels of discussion… is there a difference in the levels of discussion? Were you inspired to think about things in a different way?

  • Comfort

  • Experiences

  • Rate the intellectual level of their conversations

  • Rate their engagement

  • Is this something you would like to see done again?


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