It makes good sense that in any given classroom, in any given subject, there are a variety of different types of learners with a variety of different skills. So it makes good sense to cluster learners with similar learning profiles and abilities with one another and tailor instruction to their needs. What makes no sense at all is to assume that just because a student has difficulty understanding a single concept, (say those pesky fractions) that she is locked into the proverbial ‘low group’ for the remainder of the year. At TOPA we pretest each new concept to determine the student’s aptitude and tailor instruction and cluster groups accordingly.
More specifically, we use a model called Cluster Grouping to group ALL of our scholars. While typically this is a strategy used only for students who have been identified by a district as gifted, this is a model of instruction that we use for each of our classrooms. Cluster grouping allows elementary scholars to receive enrichment within their classroom using instruction that provides opportunities to grow academically, cognitively, socially, and emotionally according to their abilities and talents. This model is ideal because it gives scholars the opportunity to work in a community of other learners who think like them and it enables the teacher to provide ongoing support, acceleration, and enrichment as needed.