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excitedteach excitedteach is offline
 
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Advice for breaking the news
Old 07-29-2010, 04:24 PM
 
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I am at a small private school. I found out today that I am teaching a multiage 1/2 class starting in 2 weeks. Parents are not super thrilled for the most part so I hear... the office was spreading negative thoughts (WHOLE other topic) last year...
Anyway, I am preparing a presentation for parents highlighting the various positives of a 1/2 combo. I some kids it will be ideal for! I already know all of them except 1 new student.
However, do you have any possible questions that the parents will have (perhaps not so positive) so I can be prepared with an answer?
I really appreciate any insights!


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Call parents early
Old 07-29-2010, 04:30 PM
 
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This is going be extra work on your part, but if you know the parents and have a rapport with them already, can you call them and tell them how excited you are to have "Tommy" in the 1/2 class? Also, add how "Tommy" will benefit from and make it specific to their child. IE: He's a great leader and he can help the younger kids since he knows your expectations.

Since you know the kids you can tailor it to the specific child. Calling the parents ahead of time, tailoring it to the child and answering questions one on one might help aleviate problems before they even step foot in the classroom. Also, when they do come in the classroom the tone and feeling will be different since they have talked to you.

When I have done these phone calls, I set my oven timer for 2-3 minutes (or how long you want to spend per parent) and when it goes off I say, "Dinner's ready, I need to go. I look forward to seeing you at open house." Make 4-6 phone calls a night and you have it done in no time. It's time consuming but I think it pay off big time down the road. Just a thought.
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Parents
Old 07-29-2010, 04:31 PM
 
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are going to want to have assurance that their child will be given all the attention they need in order to be successful. You might want to highlight those things you will be doing to meet their needs (Guided Reading, Daily 5, Guided Math, Writer's Workshop etc). Also you might want to ask your admin to give suggestions to you, perhaps they can be available for opening day...certainly ask for the OK to refer parents to the office with any questions they may still have. Good luck!
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Old 07-29-2010, 04:45 PM
 
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I have taught multiage classes many times. Usually the biggest concern is the parents of the students in the higher grade concerned that their kids are going to be held back by being with younger kids. I stress the value in community building and working at everyone's unique developmental level. I talk to parents about how all students will be encouraged to grow and develop at their own pace. Also about how beneficial it is for older students to practice what they know by teaching younger students and being great role models. It is a great opportunity for older students to really shine and develop confidence and maturity by mentoring the younger students. The ability span is often no different in a multiage class than it is in a straight grade. There is always a range of abilities. The parents tend to react positively if you have a positive and enthusiastic attitude about it. They just want a little reassurance usually.

1/2 is a ton of fun to teach. I hope you enjoy it.
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thanks!
Old 07-29-2010, 04:52 PM
 
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Keep em coming... I am making a list!


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As a parent of a 1 and 2
Old 07-29-2010, 05:07 PM
 
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my questions would be:
What are you going to have my first grader doing while you are working with my second grader?
Are there going to be time for them to work together?
How will you handle my second grader when he has a question with his assignment while you are working with the first graders?

Just some thoughts. I, too, taught a multiage classroom. I taught in a small private school 1-4 grades. I worked hard at having centers set up around my room for the students to complete when they finished with their work. I have different bins for each level at each center. I taught the students how to use the center. Then they could complete them at their speed. I usually left them up for two to three weeks. Then i would change out one or two.
Good luck.
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class size
Old 07-29-2010, 05:31 PM
 
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Are they going let your class be smaller than other classes? That is a real selling point. Talk up your strengths. Hands on, science experiments.... etc. Thanks
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oddly no
Old 07-29-2010, 05:51 PM
 
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... we are a small school so I actually will have the largest class... with 13 kids. Kindergarten has only 7. This year we are K-2nd
But still smaller than our 24 in public school.
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Differentiated instruction
Old 07-29-2010, 06:08 PM
 
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When you think about it - first grade is all about introducing many skills and second grade is about refining and practicing those skills.

If you differentiate you should be able to create lessons that can fit all of your students.

Many times I read about public school teachers with reading levels that can vary a huge amount, and they have very large classes. I think you will be able to be very successful with a smaller class.

Often in school we reteach, refine and practice many of the same skills year after year.

Good luck to you!
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here's a good quote...
Old 07-29-2010, 06:33 PM
 
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"this isn't a class of 20, it is 20 classes of one"--it will make parents feel like you will meet needs of each child.


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here is my initial draft of the info letter
Old 07-29-2010, 06:42 PM
 
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I have drafted this letter- I have not finetuned it yet, but what do you think? We will have a question and answer time at open house, but this should be what they would want to know. I am trying to work out each class going to specials seperately 1-2 times a week so I can do testing and math seperately, but this is not set yet so I am not mentioning it.

What are the benefits of my child being in a multi-age or blended classroom?
There are many benefits for your child!
Children are all seen as a unique individual with their own set of strengths and weaknesses. A multi-age classroom allows the teacher to focus on each child as an individual and meet them where they are. Therefore, students will be learning at their own ability level, and not at a set age level. Students will have more time to learn concepts at their developmentally appropriate rate; children all learn at different rates, regardless of their grade level . This will help those that are high in reading but perhaps lower in math thrive as they work to challenge their reading skills and reinforce math concepts. A strong writer that is weak in phonics will have the same opportunities.

In a standard public school size classroom with a single grade level you will see a large span of abilities, however only one level of curriculum is taught. In a blended classroom remediation and challenges are available to all students, regardless of their grade level, where the same span of abilities are present, even with a small class size.

Additionally, there is a strong bond between teacher and child as we spend more time with each of them and learn their strengths and weaknesses. The teacher/parent relationship can also grow as the child spends more time in the class. This will not be 1 class of 13, it will be 13 classes of 1!

What benefits are there for my First grader in a multi-age class?
Children acquire skills in cooperative learning and experience mentoring from the older students. Children are exposed to higher level material and if they are ready for the challenge are not held back from it. The curriculum is not repeated year after year in an identical pattern so there is no risk of them being bored when they move on to 2nd grade, however they will move on to 2nd grade with a taste of the expectations and material so they hit the ground running.

What are the benefits for my Second Grader in a multi-age class?
The 2nd graders will also have excellent opportunities for cooperative learning, independent work, and a chance to put what they learn into practice by teaching the younger children from time to time. Second graders will develop confidence and maturity by mentoring younger children all the while reinforcing concepts they need to master.

What subjects will the 2 classes learn together and what will be taught separately?
Bible, Science, Art, Music, Spanish, Physical Education, and most of the Social Studies Curriculum have extremely similar standards for each grade level and will most often be taught as whole group lessons. Arithmetic, Reading, Phonics, and Spelling will be taught in ability based groups and grade level groups where appropriate. Writing will often be taught first as a whole group concept, with differing expectations set for each grade level.


How will you teach 2 separate lessons in one classroom?
With our A Beka Curriculum there is a certain amount of independent seat work that is used in every grade level to support the concepts learned in class. When one grade level is completing this independent seatwork the other will be receiving their group instruction. This is also when we do our ability based reading groups. In addition to seatwork, students will also utilize journal writing, computer based learning, learning based center activities, silent reading , and reading to a partner to make sure their independent learning time is always constructive. We will spend sufficient time in the beginning of the school year learning to work independently and learning what our classroom procedures are so that each student is receiving adequate individualized learning time with the teacher.
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