Third Grade Enrichment Clusters at Beecher Road School (Woodbridge) is a dedicated time built into the school week where groups of students who share common interests come together to advance their learning. This is part of our School Wide Enrichment Model built on the foundation that ALL students (not just identified students) have talents, gifts, and interests.
Students are mixed by interest among all the third grade classes for 50 minutes sessions once every six-day cycle. Enrichment Cluster sessions vary in length (they can last anywhere from four to eight weeks). Clusters are taught by third-grade classroom teachers as well as other faculty such as the STEAM teacher and resource teachers.
Students are given a survey prior to each new session with several possible choices and they rank their top choices. Teachers lead a variety of activities focused around Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences: Musical-Rhythmic, Visual-Spatial, Verbal-Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Bodily-kinesthetic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, and Naturalistic. Students also have an opportunity to suggest topics for clusters.
After the four-week session is over, students take a Google poll detailing what they liked best about their cluster, what they would change about the cluster, and suggestions for what they’d like to do next. In this poll, students also reflect on how Enrichment Clusters affects their overall engagement in school with questions such as “Does ‘student choice time’ make you excited to come to school?” and “Would you like to continue doing ‘student choice time’?”
Examples of clusters done thus far include: Engineering Projects, Movie Makers, Comic Book Creators, Paper Airplane Making, Geometric Art, Nature Craft & Hikes, Songwriting, Open Art Studio, Puzzles, Cooking, and Meditation.
We have found that choice and interest lead to engagement, excitement, and enrichment. The excitement that students experience within Enrichment Clusters carries over and has a positive impact on the rest of their week. Students form strong connections to other teachers in their grade level and have a chance to interact with students not in their own classes. As a result, we have built a stronger third grade community.
Robert Gilbert | firstname.lastname@example.org | (203) 387-6631