K-1 Multi-age Classroom
When One Size Doesn’t Fit All…
Dr. Laurie MacDonald and Mrs. Kelly Jones have been teaching together for 12 years. But they share more than typical colleagues; they share their students. They teach together in a multiage classroom at Mt. Carmel Elementary. This year they share 37 kindergarten and first grade students and share two classrooms. Guided reading and math groupings are based on student needs, not the grade level of the student. Some kindergarten students may already be reading while some first graders still need phonics and phonemic awareness skills. The groups and instruction are based on where the student is, not where “they should be.” Students stay in the multiage classroom for two years, allowing the teachers and students to bond and know each other well. Dr. Mac and Mrs. Jones were nominated last year for the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement’s Innovation in Teaching Competition.
Following is information provided by these two teachers about their unique teaching arrangement.
Our Multiage Classroom
The first years of formal schooling can be the most important years in a child’s life. Students enter kindergarten with many different academic, social and emotional needs. We wanted to find a way to increase academic achievement and meet social and emotional needs of all of our students. So, after reading many research articles, performing classroom observations and receiving opinions from other professionals, we were led to a multiage classroom approach to learning. Our principal at the time, Dr. Sandra Williams, gave us her blessing to begin planning and implementing our model of a Kindergarten/First Grade multiage classroom at Mt. Carmel Elementary.
Our multiage classroom has many benefits for our students. “A multiage class is a class where diversity is celebrated, valued as part of a natural community of learners, and is harnessed in subtle ways to support learning” (Bingham, 1995). It allows us to provide the students with consistent structure, individualized instruction, and a place where their individual differences are valued. The students are responsible for their learning and help other students learn as well. Students benefit from hands on approaches, peer tutoring and best practices to meet their academic goals. We have high expectations for all of our students.
Our classroom is a fun, welcoming place where students learn in a happy, open environment. It is a community of learners where we allow for developmental growth of our students. We understand that all students have the potential to be leaders and we appreciate each student’s individual differences. It is with great pride that we provide our students with the love and support they need to become the best version of themselves.
”Dr. Mac and Mrs. Jones demonstrate a dedication to curriculum; an environment of support and communication; ongoing discipline; emotional and academic challenge along with promoting self-help and stability,” according to Tee Buttone, a Mt. Carmel parent with a first grader in the multiage classroom this year and an older child who also was in the class. “Their multiage classroom ensures success for all of their students.”
Bingham, A. (1995). Exploring the multiage classroom. York: Stenhouse Publishers.
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