A multiage is a classroom that consists of more than one grade level. It is based on the premise that students learn at their own level and their own pace. That is what we do in our multiage classroom. We do very little whole class lessons and lecturing. Instead I do whole group mini-lessons (10-15 minutes) then get the students started on a level-based activity. I meet with small groups based on level during reading and math (sometimes writing, which I call Author’s Creations) to fine-tune skills. Basically, our multiage classroom is differentiated learning at its best. The struggling students get the basic skills they missed, but need then build their skills up. The advanced students get challenged. The students in the middle get the skills they need as well. It’s personalized for everyone.
We have a 90 minute reading block, which I find is definitely not enough time to do everything I want and need to do for reading. So, I go beyond the 90 minute reading block with reading/language arts. During my 90 minute reading block we work on our story vocabulary, listen to our story of the week, read our story of the week and have a literature discussion, or partner read our story of the week. I also teach a grammar mini-lesson everyday and the students do a related activity with this. Then we have a word work activity. During this time we practice new word wall words with different actions like punching out the word or silly voices like our “bossy teenager” voices, practice words from our word wall or Word Walltionaries, do a making words activity, do a word sort, or do a word hunt. I meet with some students to time them on their Dolch words. For word work we may also do a making words activity, or a cloze activity. I use the Ebli system for word work which focuses on the sounds that make up words. We learn one sound a week and the different ways to make up that sound. This may seem too easy for the grade level I teach, but with the many different variations that can make up different sounds in words, it is actually a challenge. I use this for group interventions and whole class activities. During my reading block I use Daily 5 in between my mini-lessons. This works out perfectly with the different levels of learners I have in my classroom. The students are focused on reading or language arts activities that will help improve their reading and writing abilities and I can teach my small literature groups at this time. Since I teach two grade levels and I have to use the core reading curriculum in my reading block, I have taken the 3rd grade reading text and the 4th grade reading text and organized the stories I think are the best and would be the most beneficial to students into genre units and I teach them as a genre unit rather than in order. My reading block schedule is posted below:
7:50-8:25- Daily 5 rotation 1. I am giving differentiated spelling tests to a small group of students that take spelling on that day (see spelling below for more specifics on how I teach spelling in a multiage way)
8:25-8:40- Core Reading Program- On Monday we learn new vocabulary for our story of the week and do our vocab. word of the week. Tuesday, we listen to the story of the week on cd and follow along in our reading text. On Wednesday, I read our story of the week to the students and have a literature discussion as we go. On Thursday, the students partner read our story of the week. On Friday, we do an activity to go along with our story.
8:40-9:00-Daily 5 rotation 2-Students choose a Daily 5 activity while I teach in small literature groups reading interventions and book club books.
9:10-9:30-Daily 5 rotation 3-Students choose a Daily 5 activity while I teach in small literature groups reading interventions and book club books.
9:30-9:45-Word Work Mini-Lesson
In my classroom, as well as every classroom, there are not just two levels even though I have 2 grade levels in my class. I have several different grade levels that I teach to depending on the students’ needs. I developed a differentiated system for spelling this year. Each student took a pre-test at the beginning of the year that included 3rd grade words and 4th grade words. I looked at the results of those tests and placed the students on a level for spelling. Some students started at the beginning of 3rd grade, some in the middle of 3rd grade, some started on 4th grade, some students even started on 5th grade. To differentiate further, I also varied the number of words I give each student based on their ability. Each student has a specific day of the week they take their spelling test. I meet with 5 different students every day. If a student gets a word incorrect, they get it on the next week’s spelling list again along with new words. When I give out new spelling words, I just move up to the next spelling list in line. I give “big” spelling tests at the beginning of every marking period to see if I need to move a student on their spelling list.
Authors’ Creations is my writing time. This year I started using the Lucy Calkins program. During our Authors’ Creations time, I start off with a writing mini-lesson that covers a concept I noticed we are struggling with, something from the Lucy Calkins program, or something from our curriculum that I have to cover in writing. After our 10 minute mini-lesson, the students work on their currect writing activity whether it is a persuasive piece, a personal narrative, a research report, etc. While the students are working, I will meet with a small group of students who are struggling on a certain concept or I might conference with students to see if they are on the right track and if they need help.
During our math block I start out correcting our problem of the day from the day before. I purchased monthly math packets from Teachers Pay Teachers that review the concepts we are learning in school. Then I ask if anyone forsees any issues with the problem of the day for that day and we go over any questions the students have. Then the students work on their problem of the day, their group worksheet (explained a little later), any other math activity I assign, and their writing packets for the month if everything else is complete. Meanwhile, I am working with a small group on a lesson. When I call students to work with me, I teach a lesson, we do a couple of examples as a group and sometimes we will do a practice page together. Then I have each individual student do a problem or two so I can check to see if they learned the concept. When we are done, I assign the group worksheet which is an assessment that covers the lesson I taught that day. Before I teach a unit, the students take a pre-test to show me what they know and what they don’t. After that, I can get them into a leveled math group. At the end of a unit, we take the math test again and I look at the progress made. I do teach most math units twice throughout the year. If the students didn’t quite get to where they needed to be the first time, usually they get there the second time through.