Tuesday, April 10, 2012

multi-age mania

Christina Bainbridge is having a link-party for split/multiage class tips and tricks.

Mrs. Bainbridge's Class

I teach a K-2 flexible-model (itinerant, resource, and self-contained) special education class that is cross-categorical, but leans heavily into the social/emotional/behavioral realm. I have 6 students at the moment, but my caseload changes ridiculously often. (I've had 10 different kids total this year, tomorrow morning I meet little # 11.) Some of my littles visit me for only an hour, some stay all day. As a first year teacher I (of course!) frequently have no idea what I'm doing, but I have a few things that I could share. . .

- I don't group by grade unless I absolutely have to. When I pull small groups, I do it by ability level. This seemed obvious to me at the beginning of the year, but I also wasn't sure it would actually work with all the little personalities in my room and their concerns about the age-pecking-order. None of my littles get offended by having younger children in their group. Even when my older ones are at almost the same level as the younger ones, they will usually try to be a mentor (and will work harder so they seem knowledgeable!) 

- My littles have single-grade regular-ed homeroom classes they're assigned to, no matter what. They go to recess, lunch, and specials with them (Lord willing and the creek don't rise . . .) This gives me some extra time with just one grade at a time and it also helps build social and functional skills . . . but the biggest draw of it is that my littles form friendships that encourage them to go back out to regular ed.

- Most of my reading lessons are in extra-small groups or individual, using Reading Mastery or guided reading (depending on the little.) I have my assistant teach one direct instruction language arts lesson and another direct instruction reading lesson, while I teach the other groups. We've tried to work out a good rotation through this, but our timing is always terribly off. I'm thinking of adding more formal literacy centers so the faster-finishing group has more structured activities, especially since the centers are working so well in math.

- We now do a math station rotation. (So far, so good!) Each little has fifteen minutes of my undivided attention for new instruction and remediation, fifteen minutes for "independent work" (my assistant keeps an eye on this little,) fifteen minutes of math centers with review/practice activities, and fifteen minutes of math computer games. This has let me differentiate my instruction a lot. 

- I do whole group writing, science, and social-emotional lessons. We also cover math/reading during morning meeting and morning work. I can push my younger/lower ones or review with my older/higher ones during this time. 

- I know this is supposed to be me giving tips/tricks (I feel like mine were the opposite of earth-shattering, though. . . ) but I also have a question for the rest of you guys. How do you teach science? The standards for my kids are so different from grade-to-grade, so I can't just do a differentiated unit on one thing. Right now I'm supposed to cover weather, plants, and animal habitats. I can sort of weave them together, but some of the other units are completely unconnected from grade to grade. I also have a pretty limited amount of time for science. Ideas?


  1. I like the way you do your math rotations.... I might try to do this next year!

    I wish that my class would split up for lunch and specials like yours does. I only get 20 minutes per week with each of my grade levels on their own!

    As far as science... the way my school does it is not the right way to do it at all, but I teach second grade science one year and first grade science the next. Since we don't have a high student turnover, every kid will get first and second grade science by the time they get to third grade. That's probably not helpful to you at all but that's how we roll. :)

    Marvelous Multiagers!

    1. Thanks! Finally getting a system that works for us during math has been amazing. I'm so glad I did it.

      The drawback to splitting up for lunch/specials is that regular ed teachers get planning at that time, and I don't since there is never a time that everyone is out. But, still, it's not bad.

      Thanks for the suggestion with science! I'd considered doing that, and I know a lot of people do it that way. I'm not sure it would work for my littles, since my class roster is all over the place and changing, but it would be the most logical solution in most cases. :)