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Monday, August 5, 2013

Should I Keep the Grade Levels Separate in a Split or Multi-grade Classroom?

NO, you should not keep the grade levels separate in a split or multi-grade classroom!

Then.... what should I do?

 You should create a community of learners.

What do you mean ... a community of learners?

To illustrate this point, let's create a class that combines third and fourth graders.
Whether this girl is in 3rd or 4th grade, you will find that she has both weaknesses and strengths.  Her strengths could be her ability to research for information in a number of sources, yet her weakness could be her ability to make an interesting paragraph. She would rather copy her source instead of synthesizing her research into her own words.

So let's put her with a partner that has a strength of creating wonderful sentences that synthesizes information in a new and unique way.  Perhaps she is a 4th Grader and her new partner is a 3rd Grader.

That's what I mean by a community of learners.  When you create learning situations that solve problems, researches new information, uses background information to make inferences...  it does not matter what grade level that student is in.

My granddaughters and I just went to see the movie, "Turbo."  On the way home, my soon to be 1st Grader suggested that she and her sister (4 years old) recreate the race at the Indianapolis 500 with Turbo.    "Do you know that basket that you use for carrying clothes......?" Then it hit me, she was envisioning recreating Turbo using a laundry basket for the shell.  Immediately the 4 year old replied, "I'm using a cardboard's lighter."  

If that's not a perfect example of what 2 different age groups can bring to the classroom.... 

So, I would spend some time during the first week of class showing off strengths of individuals instead of emphasizing their grade level. 

Perhaps you might use a informational sheet that each student would complete. It would contain information such as:

My name is ________________________________________

If you need help ___________________________________just

 ask me to be your partner. Together we will be able to



When I work in class, I wish I had a partner that was good at




Sometimes I have a hard time doing that well.
Remember, that each child has strengths and weaknesses regardless of their age.
Understanding your concerns,


  1. I can really appreciate this post as a 1st/2nd grade split teacher. I tell the kids that everyone can help each other as we all have our strengths and weaknesses!

    Primary Classrooms are Oceans of Fun

  2. I so agree with this philosophy of multi-age classrooms. I love your little survey sheet. Definitely using with my first/second graders this fall. Thanks!


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