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Multiage Education

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by

Alison Read

on 2 December 2010

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Transcript of Multiage Education

Multiage Education:
Does it work? (and could its strategies work in a single age classroom?) What is multiage education?
"Any class comprising of more than one age or grade level is often mistaken as a multiage class, when in fact, it may be a split class or a combined class, put together to solve number bulges in the school population. As long as the teacher is grouping the children according to their age or grade for instruction, assignments, and expectations, the multiage concept will be non-existent.
A successful multiage class is formed by placing together a balance of numbers of students of different age groups with a range of achievement levels. The teacher plans instruction and assessment expecting and celebrating diversity within the class." Multiage education has many benefits. Most research provides evidence of these benefits such as:
better peer group relationships, reduced stress, increased problem solving and critical thinking skills, higher levels of independence, and higher academic achievement.
More research is done in other parts of the world, where multiage education is much more common than it is here in Canada (where most multiage classrooms are made because of enrollment numbers, and are not often taught as 'true' multiage classrooms). Stuart, Connor, Cady & Zweifel 2007, Aina 2001, Edwards, Blaise & Hammer 2009, Fosco, Schleser & Andal 2004. (Marian Leier, http://www.choosingmultiage.com/marions_resources/The_Multiage_Classroom.pdf ) Multiage education is child centred. It allows students to make decisions about their own learning. It groups children in levels of readiness instead of grade or age levels. A student will have the same teacher for 2 or 3 years, allowing a bond and trust to grow between teacher and students. This allows older students to teach younger students classroom rules, routines, and mores - saving time for the teacher at the beginning of each new year and new activity. The research supports multiage education. Its benefits are numerous. But what if we believe in multiage education and teach in a single age classroom? Can we integrate multiage strategies into a single age classroom? Essential elements to a multiage classroom:
*freedom *challenge *respect *warmth *control *success I think we all strive to have these elements in our classrooms. View class as a community,
not a combination of grades. Keep this mindset, focus on the class as a whole instead of the "high, average, and low" students. Custom design a program to suit your class. This strategy will help in any classroom. Changing your deliverance of the curriculum from year to year to suit the learning needs of your class will allow students to learn within their own style and use their strengths.
While only having one year's curriculum to work with, there are still options to change up the way the curriculum is explored and the way the students demonstrate their learning. Encourage in-depth investigation according to student interest. Build in choice and emphasize self-directed learning.
Encourage collaboration and peer tutoring. By allowing students to choose their own topics to focus on (within the curriculum), you ensure that they are interested in their learning which generally produces better results. This also allows for jigsaw learning as students can share with their class mates what they've learned. Teach to the top:
-enriched curriculum
-differentiated instruction
-compacting curriculum
-offering choice
-independent projects/agendas
-clearly defined expectations Teaching to the top gives high and cleary defined expectations for all to aim for. Differentiated instruction and choice allow every type of learner to reach these at their own pace.
Compacting the curriculum may not be possible, but making instruction cross-curricular will save time and allow more time for exploration.
Also, integrate the curriculum to use meaningful, real life topics that students can relate to. Have students sit in clusters with easy access to materials. Use a variety of dynamic grouping. With only one class and classroom to work with, this may be more difficult in a single age room. It can sometimes be accomodated though and by using clock buddies or a similar grouping system, dynamic grouping can be ensured. Mainstream exceptional children, both advanced and delayed. By not relying solely on the resource department, this allows all students to share their own strengths and weaknesses and encourages students to help their fellow students. In a single age classroom there will not be as wide of a variety of students which will not provide the amount of support that a larger group will. However, this still teaches all students valuable lessons. Become knowledgeable of developmental stages and allow students to work at their developmental readiness in each discipline. This is an important part of teaching, regardless of single or multiage classroom. Being aware of the developmental readiness of your students allows you to plan instruction and work at which they are capable of succeeding. Avoid using letter or numerical grades. This can be difficult as we are required by the Department of Education to produce (at the elementary level) letter grades at the end of each term. While keeping your own gradebook, focus on giving students other types of meaningful feedback in order to nurture their learning growth. Marion Leier, http://www.choosingmultiage.com/marions_resources/Teaching_Strategies.pdf Yes! While some strategies are better suited for larger groups of students and/or multiple teachers, there are many concepts, such as dynamic grouping and self-directed learning that can be introduced into a single aged classroom. Success will be demonstrated by students leading more of their own learning, self-advocating, and working together in more productive groups both within their own developmental level and without. Students who struggled to 'conform' to a traditionally delivered curriculum should see better results when able to direct some of their own learning. Parents and administration should also see differences in students' initiative and academic success.
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