Dear Terrace Road Families,
We are fortunate to be in a position of a growing student population at Terrace Road School. This Fall we have seen an increase in students in almost every grade. We're very thankful for this continued growth and support of our community school.
Each year in the Spring, CBE schools budget for the following school year based on projected and current student numbers. Historically at Terrace Road School we have planned for a mix of straight grade classes and a mix of split grade classes. The grade configurations often changed year to year depending on the projected numbers. As a staff, we engaged in many conversations about moving instead to an intentional, long-term and sustainable plan that a new model of combined grade classrooms would provide for students. The benefits of this model were also shared at our Spring School Council meeting and decisions were made in response to our Spring Parent survey on prioritizing lower class sizes at our school.
Below you will find common questions regarding this shift in practice.
What is the difference between a Split Grade Classroom and a Multi-Age or Combined Grade Classroom?
The difference between split grade and combined grade classrooms is in the overall structure, organization and philosophy of the school. Some of the differences are highlighted in the table below.
|Split Grade Classrooms||Combined Grade Classrooms|
|A mix of straight grade classes and split grade classrooms in the school||The entire school is organized into pairs or teams of combined grades|
|Often the teacher is the only one in the school with their particular split grade configuration||Teachers are organized into pairs or teams of teachers teaching the same two curriculums. This provides an opportunity for team-teaching.|
|Split grade classroom configurations can change year to year (ex. Grade 2/3 one year and Grade 3/4 the following year)||The school is organized into the same pairs of combined grades year to year (ex. Grade 1/2, Grade 3/4, Grade 5/6) |
|Teacher must manage two curriculums individually and concurrently||Allows for flexible groupings by task, grade, special interests, curricular topic|
|Teacher is responsible for their own classroom of learners||Pair or team of teachers share responsibility for knowing the group of learners in entire combined grade group. Students have access to multiple teachers to meet their needs|
|Classroom teacher changes each year||An effort is made for the students to stay with their same teacher(s) for two year's in a row. The learning community is supported by a team of educators already knows them well in their second year of looping. |
|Teacher is often responsible for all planning of tasks and assessments of both curriculums on their own and with their students||Pairs or teams of teachers plan common tasks and common assessments with and for their groups of students. This allows for alignment between classrooms and high- quality instruction with the benefit of two or more teachers' combined expertise. |
What are the benefits of Combined Grade Classrooms?
There are many research-based benefits of combined-grade classrooms including:
positive peer interactions between older and younger grades
ability to meet the needs of all learners more effectively which does not always correspond to their grade
opportunities for student leadership and extension activities
academic gains similar to straight grades
balances class sizes are often lower overall compared to straight grades
increased collaboration between teaching partners
Here are a few additional resources if you are interested:
How will the teacher(s) manage both curriculums?
When classes are organized in a combined grade classroom configuration, teachers organize concepts from the Program of Studies through common tasks, similar tasks, and/or tandem tasks. Teachers are able to plan and assess common learning outcomes for each grade while explicitly teaching the discreet outcomes for each grade level along with a different focus and expectation for formative and summative assessment(s).
Teachers often capitalize on cross curricular connections by embedding curricular content across subject areas. A common concept or skill can be addressed with the whole class with the flexibility to apply specific content for each grade. Tasks can be differentiated by content, process, and product. Teachers may also increase or decrease the breadth and depth of knowledge according grade and the specific learning needs of each child.
We appreciate your support as we move to this combined grade model of teaching and learning. Our teaching and support staff are very excited about this shift for the benefit of all of our students.
Principal, Terrace Road School