By John R. Nieb
With enrichment clusters, third and fourth graders in the Granby schools can learn more about their areas of interest. Enrichment clusters are collaborative learning environments where students can investigate and learn about areas of interest that they have and want to learn more about. They are a multi-week cooperative learning experience for students.
“They provide a process for students who may be gifted in different ways to show their strengths and learn from and with others,” said Patricia Law, director of curriculum and professional development. “The clusters are very student directed with teachers guiding the learning based on what students want to know and find out more about a particular topic.”
Last year, only third graders participated in the enrichment clusters. This was the first year fourth graders participated, and next year, fifth graders will be participating.
The enrichment clusters take place once a week at Kelly Lane and Wells Road Intermediate Schools, and meet for one hour. At the last meeting each semester, the students share what they have learned with one another and sometimes with their parents and the community. Third and fourth grade teachers at Kelly Lane and Wells Road Intermediate Schools do all of the set up and preparation for the presentation.
“Clusters evolved from our training and focus on gifted and talented education,” Law said. “It is one way the district is supporting the various learning strengths and talents of students outside of the curriculum.”
“Students pose questions, research, innovate, experiment, collaborate and create in order to expand their knowledge about something they have an interest or talent in,” Law said.
Enrichment clusters will take place at the end of the semester next year. After the school district expands the enrichment clusters to fifth graders next year, the teachers will evaluate the program and discuss next steps.
“I love this sharing by students. You see a deep understanding and passion about their topic,” Law said. “Students work with others in different grades and classes that they might not have known before and find they have a common interest in a topic that leads to new relationships.”
“Students benefit in so many ways from this experience and the teachers get a whole new understanding of the talents and interests of their students, which transfers back into the classroom learning environment,” Law said.