The Multiage Classroom

By , April 15, 2014 6:43 pm

What is a Multi-age Classroom?

One Definition: (as listed in Exploring the Multiage Classroom by Anne A. Bingham) –

  • “A [multi-age] classroom is one in which the developmental range is wider than that in a single-grade classroom…children’s developmental diversity is celebrated, valued as part of a natural community of learners, and is harnessed in subtle ways to support learning…It is not a classroom where a (for example) “second-grade” curriculum and a “first-grade curriculum” go on simultaneously. All children may work on the same topic but in different ways or at their own individual speed.” (p.6-8)

All classrooms include students working at varying levels and, as educators, we address each student’s individual needs. Therefore, philosophies defining the multi-age classroom can in fact be used in every classroom.

Some Beliefs that Guide Multi-age Teaching

(as listed in Exploring the Multiage Classroom by Anne A. Bingham)

  • A belief in child-centered learning
  • A belief that active, concrete learning experiences are essential for young children
  • A belief in the importance of community
  • A belief that many kinds of learning are essential
  • A belief that human interaction, including conversation, supports rather than detracts from learning
  • A belief that continuity in the school setting is of value to young children
  • A belief that the traditional role of schools in society remains important
  • A belief that children’s progress should be assessed by looking at their own growth rather than by comparing them with others in their age group
  • A belief that the learner can be trusted
  • A belief that the teacher is also a learner
  • A belief that a wider-than-usual range of ages best supports these convictions

What does the Research say about Multi-age Classrooms?

As written in Exploring the Multiage Classroom by Anne A. Bingham:
“The Canadian study includes a review of research literature and also questionnaires to teachers and administrators across Canada. Its summary of research states: “Do children get as good an education in a multi-grade classroom as they do in a single-grade one? The answer is ‘yes’. The data bear out the findings of research about the many positive aspects of teaching and learning in a multi-grade class.” In fact, it is more than “as good” in the realm of psychosocial development, where “researchers generally agree that students in multi-grade classes tended to be higher or better than those in single-grade classes in the following affective areas: study habits, social interaction, self-motivation, co-operation, and attitudes toward school.” Studies of academic achievement showed that children from multigrade classes perform just as well or better on achievement tests than those from a single-grade setting.” (p.9)

What does/can Learning Look Like in a Multi-age Classroom?

  • Send in a photo of your classroom (a task, centre, or corner) that visually defines what a multi-age classroom means to you?

Peek into a Typical Day in one Early Years Multi-age Classroom

DAYS 1, 3, 5 Teacher: Mrs. Klenk DAYS 2, 4, 6 Teacher: Ms Weaver
8:30 Daily Edit / Word Families 8:30 Journal
9:00 Reader’s Workshop 9:00 Writer’s Workshop
10:00 Recess 10:00 Recess
10:15 Music / Gym 10:15 Music / Gym
12:15 Math Workshop 12:15 Math Workshop
1:15 Theme / Inquiry Centres 1:15 Theme / Inquiry Centres
1:45 Recess 1:45 Recess
2:00 Theme / Inquiry Centres 2:00 Theme / Inquiry Centres
2:30 Independent Reading / Community Building 2:30 Printing & Handwriting / Community Building
3:00 Dismissal 3:00 Dismissal

2 Responses to “The Multiage Classroom”

  1. Hi Michelle. I too need help regarding multiage teaching. I am a reading coach, never taught multiage classroom. I panicked when I was asked what should a multiage classroom look like today with all of the common core standards having to be implemented and students learning at all different levels? Wow! The teachers have been in this role for a few years until common core standards changed instruction. I will respond to them at our next professional development. Meanwhile I am doing my own research on this. I would appreciate whatever resources you can have to share. I am on the Navajo Indian reservation in northern Arizona. The student at this particular school are ELL-monolingual speakers. Can you help me? Thank you very much.


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