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An Introduction To Combined Grade Classrooms

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1 An Introduction To Combined Grade Classrooms
Presented By Grade 2/3 Teacher Mrs Samantha Walters Palermo Public School

2 What Is A Combined Classroom?
Throughout Canada, school boards are increasingly using split classes to handle declining enrollment and class-size caps, while also juggling specialized programs (like gifted and French Immersion) Combined classes group children from two consecutive grades in one classroom with one teacher. Combined classes are one of many ways that schools meet students academic and social development needs.

3 Split Grade Classroom Statistics
In Ontario, 1 in 4 children is placed in a split class (Source: Today’s Parent Magazine, 2014). The numbers are roughly the same across the country. A 2009 report by People for Education, an Ontario-based organization, found that 78% of Ontario elementary schools reported having split-grade classes (an increase from 74% in 2008).

4 Will My Child Be “Okay” In A Split?
Common concerns/questions of parents with children going into a split grade: Why has my child been placed in a split? How do teachers teach both grade’s curriculum at the same time? Will my child be challenged if they are in the older grade? Will my child receive the required support they need if they are in the younger grade? Will students in a straight grade gain more learning than a child placed in a split? Will my child be provided with the same opportunities (field trips, projects) in a split as in a straight grade? Will my child feel they have failed because they are back with a younger grade?

5 How Are Students Chosen? “Why Me?”
Principals and staff consider a variety of factors when grouping children into split classes, including: Social Skills Academic Needs Learning Styles (e.g., kinesthetic) In an effort to ensure all students are placed in appropriately balanced classrooms, school staff use criteria such as age, range of ability, special learning needs, gender, social groupings and support staff recommendations.

6 Teaching The Curriculum “How Do They Do It?”
All teachers will teach the entire Ontario curriculum to both grades. Teachers need to be familiar with the curriculum for both grades (e.g., what the grade 2’s need to know for Science versus the grade 3’s), and they revisit the curriculum often. Teachers ensure that each student is challenged at the level at which he/she can succeed.

7 How I Do It... I use many different strategies to teach students in combined grades, such as: I introduce a common topic as a whole class (e.g., multiplication), and then give each grade a different task or problem (using different success criteria) I may keep one grade with me to teach a certain lesson and have the other grade doing independent work (i.e.: review, a group activity, project research) I can break students into two groups to study different problems and report back to the class (i.e., when learning about pioneers in Grade 3 and the 7 continents in Grade 2) I bring all students together for subjects such as Literacy, Daily 5 centres, computers, oral presentations, Smartboard lessons I look at the big picture “What do my students need to learn?” I have themes that integrate both Grades so that whether children are in grade 2 or 3, they’re still writing/reading/learning; only the expectation varies.

8 An Example Of A Math Activity For Grade 2 and 3 In My Class

9 Studies Show.... A recent Canadian study completed at the University of Saskatchewan on the effects of combined classes and student learning showed that students did as well or better in the following academic areas: Math, Language, Science, Social Studies. It found that students in a combined grade classroom performed BETTER than students in a single grade classroom in the following areas: INDEPENDENCE, RESPONSIBILITY, STUDY HABITS and ATTITUDE TOWARD WORK. (Source: “The Multi-grade Classroom: Myth and Reality – A Canadian Study” by Dr Gajadharsingh)

10 According to this study, students in split grades are more independent, confident, responsible, dependable, respectful, collaborative and even tend to develop better study habits, regardless of whether they are in the higher or lower grade. (Source: “The Multi-grade Classroom: Myth and Reality – A Canadian Study” by Dr Gajadharsingh)

11 The Positives “Will My Child Learn Effectively?”
The rich social environment helps students learn how to work on their own and as part of a team (a split classroom provides many opportunities for both) They will build leadership abilities as they work together and help each other (e.g., when completing a group project) Students develop decision-making skills, and become more self-motivated and responsible (e.g., knowing when a task needs to be completed and working on their own while their teacher works with the opposite grade) They learn in an environment that reflects the “real world”. The diverse ideas and opinions of classmates help expand students’ perspectives (e.g., older students learn to be respectful of the younger students in the class and become their leaders and guides, the younger students look up and learn from the older students) Students do well, if not better academically, thanks to repetition and exposure to another grade. Their ability to behave and get along with others is also superior. (Source: Today’s Parent magazine)

12 Grade 2’s and 3’s Working Together During “Daily 5”

13 “Will My Child Receive the Same Opportunities For Learning?”
Students in split grades are provided with all of the same opportunities as those in a straight grade For example, students in Grade 2 are still able to go on the field trips with the other grade 2 classes (and the same is true for the Grade 3’s) Students in split grade classes attend all grade-specific assemblies and presentations (e.g., Pioneer day in the gym) Students complete the same projects, homework and assignments as all of the other straight grade classrooms, because teachers plan together Students in some split grade classrooms have certain subjects that are taught with only students from their specific grade (e.g., Art)

14 Some of The Students In My Grade 2/3 Class During The Holiday Concert!

15 Grade 2 (only) Field Trip

16 “Will My Child Feel They Have Failed If They Are Put with A Younger Grade?”
Children that end up in combined grades are not held back to the level of the younger children and the children in the lower grade are not expected to do work beyond their abilities. Children in my classroom are challenged to always go “above and beyond” and to aim for Level 4’s, regardless of what grade they are in! My Grade 3’s are always excited to share their learning with their Grade 2 friends! My Grade 3’s often tell me they feel “special” because they feel they can really help their younger classmates and “show what they know”!

17 “We Love Working Together!”
Grade 3 Grade 2

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