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It Takes Two: Examining How Cluster Grouping and Co-Teaching Raises the Bar for Teachers and Students Hello and welcome to It Takes Two: Examining How.

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Presentation on theme: "It Takes Two: Examining How Cluster Grouping and Co-Teaching Raises the Bar for Teachers and Students Hello and welcome to It Takes Two: Examining How."— Presentation transcript:

1 It Takes Two: Examining How Cluster Grouping and Co-Teaching Raises the Bar for Teachers and Students Hello and welcome to It Takes Two: Examining How Cluster Grouping and Co-Teaching Raises the Bar for Teachers and Students. My names is Sarah Bongarten and I am the AIG differentiation coach for Orange County Schools. Today we will examine how the use of cluster grouping and co-teaching can break down the barriers to providing AIG students with the differentiated curriculum, instruction and learning environment they require when they are in the general education classroom. This is important for a few reasons: -Firstly, most AIG students, particularly those in K-8, spend the majority of their day in the general education classroom. However, just because they are in the regular classroom does not mean that their giftedness goes away. They are AIG all day, every day, so their needs must be addressed in the regular classroom. -Secondly, many schools do not have the luxury of a full-time AIG specialist, or specialists, as the case may be, who can directly serve AIG students. Cluster grouping can be an effective, and indeed, less costly, tool for providing AIG services to students. -Thirdly, more and more schools are moving towards an inclusion model for meeting student needs, rather than relying solely on pull-out services. Co-teaching allows the classroom teacher and the AIG specialist to meet student needs during tier 1 instruction in their classrooms. Sarah Bongarten AIG Differentiation Coach Orange County Schools, NC

2 Goals of this Session To have working definitions of cluster grouping and co-teaching. To have an understanding of how cluster grouping and co-teaching benefits AIG students and their teachers We have two goals: Firstly, we will examine what cluster grouping and co-teaching are and are not, and have a working definition for each component. Secondly, we will examine how the cluster grouping model and co-teaching benefits not only AIG students, but also their teachers. We begin with a discussion of the barriers to providing differentiated curriculum and instruction to gifted students.

3 Barriers to Differentiated Curriculum and Instruction for AIG Students in the Regular Classroom
Very few AIG students Too many levels of ability/achievement Focus on supporting struggling students Lack of teacher expertise and resources for working with AIG students Equity and/or fairness issues We are well aware that AIG students have unique learning needs. There is also a strong consensus among teachers, both of the gifted and general educators, that AIG students require differentiated curriculum and instruction beyond the regular course of study. However, teachers, administrators, parents, and students themselves frequently report that differentiation does not occur on a consistent basis, and as a result, our AIG students are not flourishing in the classrooms in which they spend most of their time. Educators often cite several barriers that prevent this differentiation from occurring consistently: Very few AIG students in the class. Teachers are less likely to differentiate for only one or two AIG students. Too many levels of ability and/or achievement in the classroom. It is not unusual for a class to include students who are AIG, bright, average, in need of support, English language learners, and students receiving special education services. With so many levels of need, teachers can easily become overwhelmed in trying to meet them all. Focus on supporting struggling students. Much of our education policy focuses on raising the achievement of struggling students. While this is certainly a necessity, with so many levels of ability/achievement in a class, teachers may feel pressure to differentiate for only their struggling students, rather than their high ability or achieving students. Lack of teacher expertise and resources for working with AIG students. Many schools of education devote little time to gifted education, and most district and school-based professional development is also geared towards supporting struggling students. Many teachers, therefore, lack the necessary background knowledge and resources for meeting the needs of their gifted students. Equity and/or fairness issues. Some teachers may be hesitant to differentiate the curriculum and instruction for AIG students out of a concern that the AIG students would therefore be receiving some sort of special treatment, and that it would be unfair if they received something that other students do not. Let’s first examine how cluster grouping can address some of these barriers.

4 Cluster Grouping A group of AIG students are placed in a classroom, ideally with a teacher who has had training in gifted education Full time clustering Subject specific clustering Cluster grouping vs. tracking Multiple studies indicate that (Winebrenner and Devlin 2001; Brulles, Cohn and Saunders 2010; Gentry 1999; Allan 1991) cluster grouping is an inexpensive yet potentially powerful tool for providing AIG students with the differentiated instruction and learning environment they need to thrive. So, what is cluster grouping? In a cluster grouping model, a group of AIG students (generally up to 1/3 of the class) are placed in a classroom, ideally with a teacher who is AIG certified or has had professional development in gifted education, and has a desire to work with gifted students. The rest of the class is composed of other clusters of general education students. In some schools, it may make sense to implement full time clustering, in which all of the AIG students in a grade level are placed in one class. This can work effectively at the elementary level, and where there are a small number of AIG students. For example, if there are 6 AIG students in the 3rd grade, it may make sense to place all of them in the same class. In schools where there are larger numbers of AIG students, where AIG students have different needs, or at the middle school level, it may be more effective to use subject specific clustering. In this model, all of the students at the same grade level have the same subject at the same time, and students may move from their home classroom to another classroom that has the AIG cluster. The rest of the class is comprised of general education students. Cluster grouping is different from tracking. In a tracking system, students are generally placed into classes based on general ability, and this tends to remain rigid for their school experience. Cluster grouping, on the other hand, is determined based on a need for differentiated curriculum and instruction, so a student may need to be in an AIG cluster for reading, but not for math. Tracking often prevents AIG students from interacting with a wide variety of peers, while cluster grouping allows AIG students to interact with both AIG and general education students.

5 Cluster Grouping Model
Classroom 1 Classroom 2 Classroom 3 Classroom 4 High Achieving (AIG) X High Average Average Low Average Low Special Education X (twice exceptional) The table shown is based on the Total School Cluster Grouping Model, developed by Dr. Marcia Gentry and her colleagues at the Purdue University Gifted Education Resource Institute. Here, cluster grouping is applied not only to AIG students, but to all student groups. In this model, all students in a grade level, or in a specific subject area, are identified as high achieving, high-average, average, low-average, low, and special education. In some schools it may also make sense to include an ELL category. For example, let’s say the 4th grade teachers want to implement this model for math. Every 4th grader would be assigned to a cluster based on their level of math achievement, and then assigned to a class. Then, the whole 4th grade would have math at the same time, say from 9 to 10 o’clock, and students may move to their assigned classroom for that time. So, for example, classroom 1 would have a cluster of high achieving (AIG) students, a cluster of average students, and a cluster of low-average students during math instruction. This type of clustering benefits teachers and breaks down many of the barriers to consistent differentiation: Because students are placed in clusters, there is a critical mass of each group in a class, so teachers are much more likely to differentiate for each group. This model also narrows the range of ability and/or achievement in any given class. Teachers can differentiate much more effectively when they are dealing with three levels of need, rather than five or six. Teachers are assigned classes with clusters that match their professional background and interest. Teachers who have had training and show interest in working with AIG students should be assigned the class with the AIG cluster. Likewise, a teacher with a strong background in working with special education students should be assigned the class with the EC cluster. Gentry and her colleagues have found that this model resulted in raised achievement across all clusters. So, how does cluster grouping benefit AIG students in particular?

6 Benefits of Cluster Grouping
Intellectual peer group Responsive teachers Flexible groups Reduction of stigmatization Cluster grouping benefits AIG students intellectually, socially and emotionally. AIG students demonstrate improved academic achievement because they consistently receive appropriate levels of challenge, rather than just on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2-3 o’clock. Cluster grouping is a way to serve AIG students on a full-time basis, even when the budget only allows for a part-time specialists. They also gain a realistic perception of their abilities and benefit socially and emotionally because they are grouped with intellectual peers. Teachers can also be far more responsive to AIG students because they make up a critical mass of the class, and because the range of achievement levels is narrowed. Additionally, teachers of classes with AIG clusters demonstrate a desire and training to work with gifted students, so they are better able to respond to their intellectual, social, and emotional needs. Cluster grouping is also beneficial for AIG students because it is flexible. We all know that AIG students are just as different from one another as they are from general education students. While it may make sense for a student to be in an AIG cluster for one area, they may not need it for other areas. As a result, AIG students receive the challenge they need in their areas of strength, and the support they need in other areas. This relieves pressure on AIG students who often feel they need to be smart or perfect at everything. Additionally, students who may not demonstrate giftedness in an area earlier on, but later blossom, have the option of joining an AIG cluster. Cluster grouping can also lead to reduction in stigmatization of AIG students because, in cluster grouped classes, AIG students interact with both intellectual and age peers, so they are less likely to be seen as “odd,” “nerdy.” Additionally, because an AIG cluster is placed in a classroom with students of other levels of ability/achievement, they are less likely to be seen as receiving some sort of special, and therefore “unfair” treatment. Cluster grouping can be especially powerful for AIG students when it is paired with co-teaching, which we will now discuss. 􀃛 Cluster grouping provides full-time services for gifted students without additional cost (Gentry & Owen, 1999; Hoover, Sayler, & Feldhusen, 1993; LaRose, 1986). 􀃛 Curricular differentiation is more effective and likely to occur when a group of high-achieving students is placed with a teacher who has expertise, training, and a desire to differentiate curriculum than when these students are distributed among many teachers (Bryant, 1987; Kennedy, 1995; Kulik, 1992; Rogers, 2002). 􀃛 Removing the highest achievers from most classrooms allows other achievers to emerge and gain recognition (Gentry & Owen, 1999; Kennedy, 1989). 􀃛 Student achievement increases when cluster grouping is used (Brulles, 2005; Gentry & Owen, 1999; Pierce, Cassady, Adams, Dixon, Speirs Neumeister, & Cross, 2007). 􀃛 Over time, fewer students are identifi ed as low achievers and more students are identifi ed as high achievers (Gentry, 1999). 􀃛 Cluster grouping reduces the range of student achievement levels that must be addressed within the classrooms of all teachers (Coleman, 1995; Gentry, 1999; Delcourt & Evans 1994; Rogers, 1993).

7 Co-Teaching Co-teaching is…
Two teachers working together to plan and deliver appropriate curriculum and instruction for all students in the room Co-teaching is not… One teacher teaching while the other enforces discipline, makes copies, completes paperwork, etc. In a co-teaching partnership, a classroom teacher and a specialist work in tandem to provide an appropriate curriculum, instruction, and learning environment for all of the students in the room. When planning, the classroom teacher may share upcoming concepts or activities, and the specialist provides suggestions for enriching and extending the lessons. They may determine when to accelerate the learning of basic content so advanced students can move on to more complex tasks. While teaching, the classroom teacher and the specialist may deliver a lesson together, offering tiered levels of questioning. They might organize the class into small groups where students complete tasks based on readiness levels. They might split the class into two discussion groups, with each teacher a leading group, allowing for greater participation and depth. Co-teaching may be different from what we traditionally think of as a “push in” model. In a push in model, what we often see is the AIG specialists pulling the AIG students into a small group at the back of the room and working on activities and projects that, quite possibly, have very little to do with the underlying concepts of the class unit. There is often very little communication or shared planning between the classroom teacher and the specialist. That is not to say that push-in doesn’t have a place in the spectrum of AIG services. It does. Rather, we should be clear that co-teaching and push-in are not synonymous.

8 There are various models of co-teaching, requiring varying degrees of trust, planning time, and content knowledge. In a lead and support model, one teacher is responsible for the primary instruction, while the other teacher assists and supports. The primary teacher may be either the classroom teacher OR the specialist. Since this model runs the risk of one teacher being placed into more of an assistant capacity, it is suggested that this model be used sparingly in conjunction with some of the other models we discuss. In a station teaching model, each teacher is responsible for teaching a part of the content. The students rotate from station to station. In a parallel teaching model, the class is split into two groups, and each teacher teaches similar content or leads discussions. This model allows students to participate with more frequency and at greater depth, and material may be presented in ways that support various learning styles. In an alternative teaching model, sometimes called complementary teaching, one teacher presents the main lesson while the other teacher provides an alternative lesson that is related to the overarching concepts or topics. In an AIG context, this model can be effective when students have compacted out of a particular lesson and do not need to learn the basic concept. The teacher leading the alternative group can present the AIG students with tasks that deal with the topic in more complex ways. In a team teaching model, which is sometimes called duet teaching, requires the greatest amount of planning time, trust, and knowledge of content and students. In this model, the classroom teacher and the specialist are equal partners in planning and delivering instruction to ALL students in the room. Teachers may present lessons together, and it is likely that both teachers will work with all clusters in the room. When you walk into a room where team teaching is occurring, you may be unable to tell which teacher is the classroom teacher and which one is the specialist. Now’s let’s have a look at some video clips to see what co-planning and co-teaching look like.

9 Team Teaching Two teachers deliver a lesson simultaneously, building off one another

10 Station Teaching Each teacher leads a station, and students rotate to appropriately challenging activities

11 Benefits of Co-Teaching
Classroom Teacher Benefits Support with planning and differentiated instructional strategies Smaller student load and another professional in the room AIG Specialist Benefits Easier to enrich and extend curriculum and connect activities to what is being taught in the classroom Nurture students who are not AIG identified Student Benefits Cohesive, rigorous curriculum and instruction Responds to specific student needs Reduction of stigmatization Both the classroom teacher and the specialist benefit from a co-teaching partnership. Importantly, they can learn from each other’s area of expertise. The classroom teacher can learn instructional strategies that support AIG students. He or she may later employ these strategies even when the AIG specialist is not in the room, thus keeping the level of rigor consistent throughout the day. Classroom teachers can also be more responsive to student needs because they can work with a smaller student load when there is another professional in the room. In the past, AIG specialists offering pull-out enrichment might teach units that, while engaging, did not allow students to bring what they had learned into the classroom where they spend most of their day. Co-teaching allows specialists to become more familiar with the general curriculum and thus provide activities and projects that enrich and extend it. Also, co-teaching allows specialists to nurture students who are not AIG identified. AIG students, as well as general education students, also benefit from the co-teaching model. Because the classroom teacher and the specialist plan and deliver lessons together, students receive a cohesive, enriched, and in-depth curriculum, as well as instructional strategies, that meet their needs. Furthermore, the co-teaching model allows for flexibility and responds to specific student needs. There may be times when an AIG student needs additional support with a concept. In the co-teaching model, he or she could simply join a group that has a similar need. There might also be times when a general education student may require enrichment, and again, in a co-taught class, this enrichment would be available for that student. As with cluster grouping, co-teaching can reduce the stigmatization of AIG students. For example, because the AIG specialist may work with a wider variety of students, and because AIG students are less frequently leaving the classroom, they are less likely to be seen as receiving special treatment or somehow different than other students.

12 Benefits of Co-Teaching

13 It Takes Two: Cluster Grouping and Co-Teaching
Effective cluster grouping paves the way for effective co-teaching. Reduces the number of classroom teachers with whom the AIG must coordinate Allows AIG specialists to work directly with students on a consistent basis Many AIG specialists are open to the idea of co-teaching. However, they may wonder, “my students are in different classes! How can I possibly serve all of them cohesively? How can find the time to plan and teach with 5 different teachers? Co-teaching sounds great, but it’s just not practical!” This is where cluster grouping and co-teaching go hand-in-hand. As we’ve discussed, the cluster grouping model results in the AIG students being grouped together either full time or for a particular subject. Because all of the AIG students are in one room, the AIG specialist can focus on working with just one classroom teacher in a particular area on a regular basis. In Orange County, we ask our elementary specialists, not just AIG specialists but also EC and ESL specialists, to co-teach in one subject, one period per day. So, for example, at one of our schools the AIG specialist co-teaches with a 5th grade classroom teacher in reading. The whole 5th grade has reading at the same time, and students move to the classroom where they are with the appropriate clusters. All of the AIG reading students are clustered into the co-taught class. The classroom teacher and the AIG specialist then work together to modify the pace, depth, and complexity of the content being taught. Cluster grouping and co-teaching raise the bar for both students and teachers. AIG students benefit from the presence of an intellectual peer group, a consistently appropriate level of challenge, and access to multiple teachers who respond to their unique learning needs. Classroom teachers benefit from having a narrower range of ability or achievement levels in their room at a given time, allowing them to more effectively differentiate the curriculum and instruction for each cluster. They also benefit from having the support of an instructional specialist when planning and delivering instruction to students. AIG teachers benefit from having a greater understanding of the general content and can plan tasks that accelerate, extend, and enrich the curriculum, as well as nurture students who may not be formally identified. Ultimately, cluster grouping and co-teaching has the potential to result in greater student achievement and professional growth.

14 Questions and Contact Info Sarah Bongarten ext New Hope Church Road Chapel Hill, NC 27514

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