LISBON Students at Lisbon Central School will have an expanded and extended opportunity to experience a multi-age classroom this fall.
The school will offer a new third- and fourth-grade combined classroom in addition to the multi-age first- and second-grade classrooms it has already offered.
We implemented the first- and second-grade multi-age program three years ago and had great success with it and decided that we wanted to expand the program up to include third and fourth grades, said Erin E. Woods, superintendent. The teachers that will be partnering strongly believe in the benefits of a two-year program and have very similar philosophies and teaching styles.
The third- and fourth-grade classroom will have 37 students.
At a recent meeting of the Lisbon Central School board, teachers Brittney Stewart and Jill Farrand presented the classrooms proposed curriculum.
A lot of the benefit is that students are going to be learning from two teachers two years in a row, said Ms. Farrand. It allows them to become familiar and accustomed to a classroom routine.
Ms. Stewart said that kind of familiarity can make a big difference to students. Once they learn the routine, they get a sense of independence and confidence, she said.
The program also allows advanced level third-graders access to fourth-grade lessons, and fourth-graders in need of review the ability to revisit third-grade materials.
That is the beauty of it it is so hard for teachers to involve all levels of learning in the classroom, Ms. Stewart said.
The teachers said the first part of their students day will include combined reading and writing lessons. Ms. Farrand said language arts classes lend themselves well to the multi-age environment.
Its not like math, it is more of a general focus of being able to read well, she said. It is not like its a totally separate set of skills.
While most students will experience independent reading time, one teacher may pull aside a small reading group to develop language skills. The age groups will also be separated so that fourth-graders may participate in a reading and writing biography project, Ms. Farrand said.
Ms. Stewart said the students would also separate for afternoon math lessons.
Math is the only thing we divide up by grade level, she said. We will do a problem of the day all together, then we split up to teach a lesson, and then they do their independent work as a group.
The teachers will give science and social studies lessons to the class as a whole, Mr. Stewart said.
Our real goal is to keep them mixed throughout most of the day, she said. It is a real benefit for the kids.
Both teachers argue that multi-age classrooms build a positive, nurturing environment where older children support and mentor their younger cohorts and students receive more one-on-one and small-group instruction.
Furthermore, they say, their teaching styles complement each other.
Weve had a chance to see how the other one does it, Ms. Stewart said. We have a similar philosophy: that the kids are the most important priority.
Lisbon Central School still offers traditional third- and fourth-grade classrooms.