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Q & A: Managing Split Classes

This month’s question comes from Robin.  Can you help answer her question and ease her anxiety?  If so, leave a comment below!

“I need tips and tricks on handling a split class – management, orchestration, etc. I will be having my first 2nd-3rd grade split next year and haven’t got a clue how I’m going to manage it with two curriculums.”

Do you have a question you’d like to have answered next month? Submit it here!

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The article above was featured in the July 2010 Classroom Connection Newsletter. Read more teacher tips from that edition:
An Art-T Method for Exploring Facts and Opinions
A Hidden Agenda for Meet the Teacher Night
Student Lists to the Rescue
A Tale of Two Teachers
Menu Memories Make for Charming Family Keepsakes
Help Kids “Take Off” for Learning
Put Content Review On Automatic Pilot
Rubric Encourages Positive Effort
Rest Room Rock Helps Everyone Rest Easy
“Book” a Puppet Birthday Party
Literature-based Writing Activity Helps Students Get Acquainted
Letter-writing Activity Helps Frame The School Year
July’s Q & A
June’s Q & A

Do you have a question you’d like to see answered in next month’s Classroom Connection Newsletter? Submit it here!


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12 comments
Ali7
Ali7

How do you set up your classroom, physically? In terms of where one grade levels desks go and the other's?


Wendy
Wendy

Although I have taught classes where my students ranged in ability from gifted to severely learning disabled, I have always taught student in the same age range of a few years. This year I will be teaching classes where my students ages are spread over several years. I am excited about the challenge and the possibilites that will present themselves! There are many great resources on differentiating the curriculum and adapting the information that is being taught, the process by which it is taught, and/or the product that is the outcome of learning. I plan to have a whole group lessons, independent work that is appropriate for each student, centers, and individual menus where students have a choice of activites to complete independently that either extends curriculum or reviews basic skills. Good luck, I know you'll do a great job!

vicki
vicki

I will be teaching a 4/5 combo this coming year. Thank you for all the ideas on this post! Are there any teachers who have experience with a 4/5 combo using enVision math?

Candace O.
Candace O.

I will be teaching a combined 1st/2nd grade inclusion class this year, and I have decided to limited my whole group instruction to just 20 minutes for each subject. This whole group instruction time will be a read aloud or game to keep students working together. The rest of my day will be spent split in groups where I will cover the topics needed with each group. I have each group coded by a fruit name and matching color (i.e....apples=green, grapes=purple, etc...) Centers are housed in the same bin, but they will know to find their center work in the folder that matches their group fruit. Basically my whole day will be differentiated from seatwork, small groups and centers! Good luck on your year!!!

Valery
Valery

I have taught split classes before. I combined the two grades for history and science because there wasn't time to do two separate lessons. For reading the top 2nd graders could be place with some third graders. You might be able to put some of your lower readers with the first grade teacher if it works out with the schedule. The other subjects will need to be taught separately. The key is keeping one group busy with something so you can teach the other. The older ones who finish work quickly can be a huge help with a struggling 2nd grader. You will have to keep the daily schedule tight and stay on track. Most days you will and after a few weeks things will be right where you want them.

Susan
Susan

I had a 3rd/4th split recently and understand your concern for"covering it all." When I planned, I first checked my lower grades expectations and then compared those to my higher grade. I found that most of the time it just meant the higher grade would have an extra step added to their expectations,(one learns measurement to the1/2 inch, the other to the1/4 inch.) I taught the entire class to the higher level but tested to their individual levels.It is chance to get early exposure to concepts for the lower grade or even a great challenge for some advanced kids. It's esp. great when you have those kids the next year!

Laura
Laura

Robin, I teach and 2/3 split. The students stay with me for two years. For science and social studies, I teach one grade's curriculum one year and the other the following year. Reading is easy since students are all reading on their own levels and the skills/strategies are basically the same, just applied with different text. For spelling we have a pattern or whatever. We brainstorm all of the words we can with that pattern (may be more than one). The students choose their own words with some guidance from me on how many words or how many syllables. On Friday we do a Buddy Check where students are paired and give each other their tests. It takes some training in the beginning, but then it works great. The second year is even better because you will have EXPERTS to help the new second graders.

Pam
Pam

I am in the same position this year with a linked 2nd and 3rd classroom. That means that I teach reading and math at each grade level and social studies, science, and writing to everyone at the same time. I plan to use the same skills for phonics, grammar, and story theme, then just modify to extend for third graders. Each grade will have their own reading text to practice these skills at their reading level. Math concepts are similar, so teaching the second graders is a good base for review for the third graders, the while second grade does work, third grade will have the concept extended for them. I am not sure how this will work, but that is the beginning of my plan. I also plan on using a lot of centers and reading assignments to help fill in the needed time when students finish, before I get back to them. Good luck to you.

Faith Irvine
Faith Irvine

I have been dealing with this problem for the 7 years of my teaching experience. I find it helpful to establish a regular routine for each day of the week, so the students are aware of what is coming next. I write seatwork assignments on the board each morning. The 4th graders know to begin seatwork while I am teaching the 3rd graders their lesson and vice versa. Last year I set up an area in the back of the room where one grade can work in "table voices" while I am working with the other group. An example of what they can do independently is 'say, spell, say' their spelling list with students taking turns leading each day (names posted on the board with the seatwork). I also liked the write on-wipe off chart available from Really Good Stuff that is titled 'What Can I Do When I'm All Through.' This reminds my students what their choices are for QUIET activities, such as, a center activity, read a book, write in their journal, etc. Organization is certainly key to split classes. I'm cetain you will find new ideas that work for you as the year progresses.

Marilyn
Marilyn

**Separate manuals to the side of the room/desk(if it is large enough)**I use sentence strips, laminate them, and cut them into chunks after writing each student's name - one color for boys and one color for girls so the class I am not instructing can leave one at a time for restroom breaks. I use magnetic clips near the door so a quick glance tells me if anyone is out and who it is. Only one boy and one girl is allowed at a time. **There are many wonderful "busy" reproducible books for early finishers. **Check this bulletin for core review idea and adapt it to anytime review. Good luck! It may be a challenge this year, but it does get easier - I know I had a two-grade class for over twenty years.

Susan Bard
Susan Bard

When I taught combination classes, I looked for the commonalities in the curriculums. For example, when I taught addition to my lower grade, I also taught it to my upper grade, but just expanded it to a higher level. When I taught nouns to my upper grade, I also taught nouns to my lower grade. This cut a lot of the work load. When teaching science and social studies, try to alternate assignments so that you have teacher directed activities for one grade while the other grade is doing individual or partnered projects. Good luck and enjoy!

Julia Mandeson
Julia Mandeson

Color code everything, from paper you print work on to folders. Our school colors are blue and gold, so I use the blue for the younger grade (Blue-New) and gold (yellow) for the older grade (gold-old), then I and the students knew what was for them and what was for the other grade.