Grouping Strategies

Gifted Students

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Group Work

Group work is an excellent way for students to experience content; been new, for review or practice content. Many teachers find group work overwhelming but once the technique is learned and practice it comes as a second nature,


In the book “Teaching Gifted Kids in Today’s Classroom” by Susan Winebrenner’s, two group strategies are discussed in detail; cooperative learning and cluster grouping. You will find more information about it as you continue learning.

Cooperative Learning

When a teacher uses cooperative learning must remember the following:

1. Groups are not for the gifted students to mentor or tutor other students.

2. Heterogeneous groups can help gifted students if the task is problem based and open ended.

3.Gifted students can learn how to work with others, helping them acquire the interaction skills they are missing.
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Groups for Gifted students

Group gifted students in their own group with challenging tasks, the rest of the class in heterogeneous groups or two gifted students in a group with two average ability students.

What type of grouping to use?

1. Heterogeneous vs. homogeneous gifted

  • If the task is practice, answering questions, recall and the gifted students have master the material; then group the gifted students and give them a more rigorous tasks (write story problems, advanced novel, create an interactive or digital activity).
  • If the task is critical thinking, problem based, open-ended, if it is a new content to them, science experiments, and current events then heterogeneous groups are good most of the times.
  • If the gifted student will be involved in real learning and not tutoring then use heterogeneous groups
  • If the answer to two or more of the above is no, please use homogeneous gifted groups

2. The teacher must keep in mind that when you homogeneous gifted groups are use the rest of the class will be placed in heterogeneous groups. Use a student of high ability, one with difficulty, and two with average ability for the heterogeneous groups

3. As the teacher circulates in the classroom must be checking that the gifted students were placed properly to stimulate learning

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Cluster Grouping

  • Cluster grouping is when identified gifted students are schedule into a classroom with mixed abilities and the teacher has gifted and differential instruction experience and professional development.
  • The advantage of having cluster of gifted students is not only that they can learn and explore to their level of development but also for the teacher that can take the time to plan appropriately for the gifted students.
  • There are reports of cluster groups kept at a manageable size reflecting on improvement of the achievement at the level of the whole class.
  • Can be used at all grade levels but it will be slightly different at the secondary level due to the lack of students to form clusters for an advanced class.

Flexible Grouping

  • When there is a whole group assessment or instruction initially; and then the students are divided by their need for either review, re-teach, practice, or enrichment
  • Is not a permanent group just for the time needed (class period, week, etc)
  • Flexible Grouping for the delivery of instruction is the cornerstone of appropriate differentiation for the gifted student as well as others.
  • Group composition can be done by interests, skills, background knowledge.
  • Group composition can also be done by teacher assignment, student preference, pre-tests
  • Modality preference groups- use learning styles (auditory, visual, hands on).

Group Management

  • Goal of the activity
  • Number of groups depending class size
  • Number of students in a group
  • Group roles – teach the student the roles and their responsibility before hand
  • Teacher needs to be free to circulate among groups and give feedback.
  • Some activities that reinforce differentiated instruction are; centers/stations, tiered lessons, and anchor activities.
  • Switch your groups often.


Flexible Grouping

Holloway, J. H.- Teaching All Students. October 2003 | Volume 61 | Number 2. Pages 89-91. Research Link / Grouping Gifted Students

Winebrenner, S. - Teaching Gifted Kids in Today's Classroom. Chapter 7 , Pages 189 - 198