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Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. He holds a Ph.D. with a specialization in elementary education from the University of South Florida. His...
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Starting a Schoolwide Enrichment Cluster Program

Note: This is the final installment of a three-part series.

If you’ve read my last two blogs, you know that starting a schoolwide enrichment cluster program is both rewarding and challenging.  After you have cleared the logistical hurdles, you get to focus on the fun part: watching the students create product and services and share them! This is where the Parent Showcase comes in.

At the end of the 10-week program, I arranged a showcasing day in the school’s cafeteria. You want to select a place at your school that is largest enough to house a full list of guests, including parents, community members, and fellow classmates.

During the final weeks of the program, coaches of the clusters were told to make sure their students had finished products that could be displayed during the event.  I printed out a map of the cafeteria and provided each cluster with a designated space, where the coaches and students from that cluster could display products and greet visitors. I also had the school’s custodians place two long tables at each station.  Coaches were also told to contact program supervisors if they need any additional items, such as microphones, extension cords, additional tables, or chairs.

On the day of the event, we had a great turnout.  Students from the journalism cluster passed out self-made newspapers.  The Lego cluster held a car race while the inventors exploded a volcano.  The sign language cluster performed a story on stage while the law enforcement group proudly displayed a giant board game. There was also a live K-9 demonstration (which was made possible with the help of the school’s resource officer).

Students, who were not enrolled in the program, were also invited to tour the cluster displays. This served as a great advertisement for the program since many of these students now wanted to sign up after seeing how much fun was had.

The showcase might also be great time to request media attention (contact newspapers and the television station a week or two before the event) as well as collect survey information that can be used to improve the program.  We had students complete short exit surveys, which provided data about engagement levels and the overall experience of the program.

There ends my tale of the launching of an enrichment cluster program. Hopefully, the story provided insights and tools that you can use to start your own program. Remember, the enrichment cluster model can be tailored to fit any school schedule and does not have to be implemented schoolwide (though, that impacts the most students). There are ways to work the model into classrooms and across grade-levels.

Make sure to read next week’s blog as I write about how Dr. Brian Housand, keynote speaker at the recent Florida Association for the Gifted’s annual conference in Tampa, and other “geeks” are inheriting the earth.