In order to have personalized learning in a multi-age classroom, an elementary school has adopted a competency based approach as students set their own schedule for the day.
In Sarah Jean-Gilles' combined fourth and fifth grade classroom at Pittsfield Elementary School, her 19 students are scattered about, some at desks, some on the ground or standing up. One student, Elise Berry, leaved through a novel and referred back to the laptop she opened while sitting on the ground.
“You can set your plan for your day and you can do it on your own – and I like being in a small group,” she said.
After a short time, the students gathered in small groups and talked about the chapters in novels they had been reading.
“That’s been a big change – to go from, ‘Does it look like you’re working?’ to, ‘Are you actually working?’ ” Jean-Gilles said after class.
“Multi-age grouping does create the expectations that you personalize the education for kids,” said Chris Sturgis of CompetencyWorks.org. “In a multi-age classroom you can’t just deliver one grade level curriculum. Teachers will have to organize the classroom around personalizing instruction to ensure that students are getting instruction and building . . . skills based on their personal educational trajectories.”