Q&A #4747

Multi-age classroom teaching

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From: Kristina (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Sep 26, 2000 at 10:13:32
Subject: Re: Multi-age classroom teaching

I taught a multiage class of 1st and 2nd graders for three years. With all honesty I can say that it was a wonderful experience! Kids at this age enjoy school, like working with others, and help each other when they know that helping is valued. If I had a choice I would rather teach a multiage 1/2 than a single grade class for either 1st or 2nd grade. It is hard for me to know what a specific school district is looking for in a multiage teacher, but I'll do my best to give you some things to think about. First, think about how you will build community. How will you make your class feel like one class, and not like two small classes pushed into one room? How will you create an environment with minimal competition and with maximum cooperation? How will you teach the students to accept and value differences (differences in ability, differences in opinion)? Second, think about the academic environment. How will you meet the varied academic needs in the class? How will you make sure the older students don't play the role of "tutor" all the time, but instead recieve appropriate challenges themselves? When will it be appropriate to work with the whole class? Small groups? Grade level groups? There are challenges for the teacher. For example, if the curriculum is "text-based" (meaning that 1st grade has a math book that it "must" do and second grade has a math book that it "must" do), you will want to think of ways to teach "despite" the text. It is hard to make a group feel like one class if math and reading are always taught by grade level. In some ways it defeats the purpose of having multiage classes. My recommendation would be to determine the important concepts and skills that should be taught and then decide how to group students so that it is not a straight split between grades. Introduce concepts and activities to the whole class, then meet with small groups while the rest of the class is working on other assignments. When possible, mix these groups. Pull groups for extra practice or for enrichment depending on their needs. Math and reading require the most planning since students really do work at different levels. You will want to develop a lot of independent activities, centers, games, practice assignments so that students can work independently while you meet with small groups. Management is very important because you cannot rely on the fact that you can teach the whole class together. Social studies and science are easier to plan than math and reading because they are less driven by level of acheivement. Older students can read aloud directions or information. Younger and older students can work together to collect data, make posters, answer questions. I feel as though I gave you a lot to think about without offering a lot of answers. Please write back if I can follow up on anything. Good luck! -Kristina, for the Teacher2Teacher service

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