Sunday, November 25, 2012

Enrichment Clusters Showcase: You're Invited!

 The excitement is growing as our fourth and fifth grader learners continue to develop new talents and skills while exploring new concepts in their areas of interest during our 4th/5th grade Enrichment Clusters.  The clusters are in full swing, and our learners are digging deep as they work together to create products and /or services that reflect not only the passion they have for their work, but also the learning that has occurred as a result of that work.

 In our "Science of Magic" cluster, our learners are busy creating a video in which they will not only amaze us with the wonders of magic, but also explain the scientific principles that are at work to make that magic happen.  Our "Why Knot Woodworking" group has a surprise in store as they finalize their work on a special addition to our campus.  Down the hall a group of learners are in a "Fitness Frenzy" as they discover the importance of exercise and proper nutrition in maintaining a healthy outlook in life.

 I can't wait to see what these learners, and so many more, have to share with us during our upcoming Enrichment Cluster Showcase which will take place between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, December 20th in the Austin Elementary library.  All are welcome to join us as we celebrate the accomplishments of our learners and honor their efforts over the last several weeks.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Enrichment Clusters: Finding Depth in Authentic Learning

As you know from my previous post, enrichment clusters are up and running here at Austin Elementary.  One of the benefits clusters brings to the learning environment is the depth at which they allow our learners to explore their interests.  During cluster sessions, learners are challenged to use authentic methods and advanced vocabulary as they develop their talents, nurture their creativity, and learn what it means to think, speak, and act as a professional.

In order to incorporate this level of depth into the cluster environment, five primary components must be in place:

1. Clusters are student driven.  They are guided by the interests, passions, and ideas of the learners.

2. Clusters incorporate authentic methods.  Learners are given the opportunity to explore how a real professional with an interest in this area might think, act, and speak.  They are exposed to the "tools of the trade" and are given the opportunity to use these tools in authentic ways.

3.  Clusters expose learners to advanced vocabulary within their area of interest.

4.  Clusters provide an opportunity for students to explore real world applications of their area of interest as they develop a service or product to be shared with the community.

5. Clusters encourage learners to develop pride in their accomplishments as they share their product or service with an authentic audience.

I invite you to come visit us between 8:00 and 9:00 on Friday mornings to see for yourself how the educators and learners at Austin Elementary are making this magic happen!  To arrange a visit, simply contact Liz Malone at 214-496-7335 or by email at

Enrichment Clusters...the Vision Expands!

Step into any fourth or fifth grade classroom on Friday mornings, and you will find a group of learners engaged in conversations and activities designed to help them understand how they can use their talents to create products and services that will benefit the world around them.  Educators are facilitating these conversations as they guide their learners to contemplate how their interests and talents could be used to benefit an authentic audience in our community.  This is the world of enrichment clusters, where learners have an opportunity to pursue an area of passion and develop a a deep understanding of how this passion can be used in the real world.  View the presentation below to catch a small glimpse of what this looks like on our campus.