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We are in our 2nd year of multiage with 4-6 graders. There are 3 classes
out of the whole school who are configured in this way. Another piece of
the puzzle (that I will try to keep separate in this response) is that this
muti-age setting is also project based in it's teaching and learning
approach. The music teacher and myself have tried several different
approaches to delivery and I'll share with you the most successful one for
us (although, not perfect).
We have scheduled for all 3 of the multi-age rooms to be in either music,
art or the learning center for the same hour 3 times a week. In order to
do that the music teacher sometimes sees them for 1 hour straight once a
week instead of the usual 1/2 hour once and 1/2 once again. By doing this
the music teacher, learning center director and myself have more
flexibility to group them as we feel is appropriate for whatever length of
time we feel is appropriate. For example, in the beginning of the year we
had to lay some groundwork for many of the projects we wanted to be
involved in this year. So for the first 8 weeks we had them by grade
levels for one hour once a week to do some of the skill building necessary
to move onto bigger and better things. Then we had them as multiage groups
for an hour once a week for 6 weeks for a more involved project to apply
their new skills. Sometimes we team with each other and do a music and art
activity either together in the same room or we'll switch after 1/2 of the
hour is up.
Anyway, the key is flexibility because there are skills that require them
to be separated by grade level because otherwise the spread of abilities
can be overwhelming. The low end either doesn't get the help they need or
the high end isn't pushing their abilities. But the multiage groupings are
wonderful for some of the more thought provoking applications and the
spread of abilities is an asset.
The pitfalls come into play if you do not have common planning time with
the other teachers involved. In my case, the music teacher and I have an
hour once a week together to plan but we never see the LC director beyond
lunch, before and after school. The other pitfalls for us have to do with
the project based learning approach... and that's a whole other ball of
Hope this is food for thought as you start out on your adventure. Good luck!