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Clustering is a great study strategy, and is especially helpful for visual learners who like to look at and create charts. Clustering can help all students organize their thoughts and make useful connections. For example, you can use cluster concepts for a study aid for a Civil War unit.
The first step is to review class materials and identify what is important.
The second step is to make preliminary clusters. Suggest that the students create one cluster for the North, and one for the South.
Third, students should go back to the class materials on the Civil War and self-check the information in their clusters.
Cluster again. Not only is this a form of review, but this process causes the students to create their own stimulus words as they go over the material. When creating their own stimulus words, the students are engaged with the material. Their own words will have more meaning for them and help them make connections in order to understand material.
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When clustering is used as a study aide, students translate the subject into their own words and therefore come to a greater understanding of the material. Clustering is a great way to prepare students to answer essay and test questions. Before being tested on the material, it is a good idea for the student to review the clusters. And when faced with an essay exam, the students will already have various aspects of the material organized in their minds.
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Using the Entire Brain
Clustering is a right brain activity. Students may not be used to engaging in right brain activities in school, so remind them to use clustering often and in a variety of situations. Cluster when preparing to write. Create clusters to compare and contrast concepts in literature. Use clusters to organize information, and as a study aide. Some students may take awhile to get the hang of it, but it is worth persevering and practicing, as clustering is a valuable skill.
Clustering as a Study Skill
All teachers can teach students to cluster: to organize students' thoughts and ideas, to use as a study skill, and more.