How Can I Use Clustering as a Strategy to Enhance Learning?

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HowCanIUseClusteringasaStrategytoEnhanceLearningAs a strategy, clustering can be used to facilitate sharing of information, to seek out links, connections or patterns between various facts and statements through discussion and analysis and consensus-seeking. Students are instructed to assemble, group or categorize similar information into various clusters, thus promoting active learning. Here are five interactive activities that promote the use of clustering to facilitate learning.

1) Four corners: Four corners is an activity that can be used to demonstrate the use of clusters in learning. This lively movement oriented activity can be conducted at the end of a lesson to help summarize key information and to assess students’ knowledge of the topic.

Label the four corners of your classroom with titles of the main topic. At the center, place a box that has chits with facts or statements written on them. Students are given a minute to take a chit and read through the information. After everyone has taken a chit, they are given 30 seconds to stand in the corner connected to their statement. Once everyone is in their respective corner, instruct a student from each corner, to gather the chits and read out the statements. The advantage of the activity is that, if any has made a mistake of standing in the wrong corner, you can correct the mistake or clarify the misconception, without pointing out the individual.

2) Tag: In this too, information chits are handed out. The clusters are written on the board. Students are given two to three minutes to tag others and gather into their respective clusters. In addition, they can be asked to form sub-clusters or find out the pattern among the facts (hierarchy, linear) and stand accordingly.

3) Clustering: This can be a classroom activity or a group project. Groups are given a list of statements from which clusters are to be formed. Students can be creative and visually represent the clusters, patterns and connections using doodles, concept mapping etc and using colors. As group projects, they can be encouraged to create elaborate pieces like art spirals, posters, and so on. These can then be presented and a discussion can follow. Such presentations and art projects aid in memorization, recall and exam preparation.

4) Sticky notes: A good way to learn is to learn from mistakes. In this activity, the clusters are already mentioned. Information is written on the sticky notes and randomly placed under the various clusters. Students are instructed to re-arrange the notes into their right clusters. They can also be given an extra set of sticky notes to write down the information to form sub-clusters and draw out the connections. 

5) Cluster quiz: Create a quiz format, which includes rounds like “multiple choice (identifying the cluster to which the information belongs), rapid round (naming or framing a cluster), written round (forming maximum number of clusters using the list of information).”

6) Card cluster: Create a deck of information cards. This is an individual game played in small groups of four students. Each group is given a deck and from the deck, they take three cards each. The aim of the game is to form as many clusters before the cards in the deck run out.

Each student gets a turn at taking a card from the deck (done in order). The rules are that each cluster should consist of a minimum of three cards. Once a cluster is formed, it should be placed face down in front of them. Students should not have more than five cards in their hand, and any card that does not fit in with their cluster should be offered to the others, which can be snapped up by anyone in need of the card.

You can check the clusters, as the group finishes the deck. Any mistake in clustering will eliminate that cluster and the student with the maximum cluster wins. This is a fun way to asses students’ knowledge of the topic.

Discuss here: What are some other strategies that you used to enhance active learning in your classroom?

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