HOW DO COMBINATION CLASSES WORK ?
The short answer is: they work GREAT!
Combination classes (two grades together) often arise when there aren't enough students of one grade to have a whole class. Students from another grade are added until there are enough for a good class size.
Many parents were never in a combination class themselves, so they wonder how this situation can work. They are curious about how one teacher can challenge all students at their levels. Parents sometimes might worry that their child will be treated older (or younger) than their actual age or ability.
This is my 25th year at View Ridge. I've taught a combination 2nd/ 3rd grade for most of them. I believe I must be a little more organized in the years when I teach a combination class, but the benefits are great, both for the students and me.
Let me give you an example of how I teach these subjects:
READING: I find each student's reading strengths and needs, then teach accordingly. Instead of looking at each student as a second or third grader, I look at him as a student who might be strong in certain areas but needs help in others. I work weekly with all students according to particular needs in various reading skills.
WRITING: I teach this quite a bit like reading, except for the addition of cursive for third graders. Second graders can try cursive if they like. (Many are excited to do this).
MATH: Each grade is taught separately. While I instruct one grade, students in the other grade are working on their written assignment, then doing math enrichment activities.
SCIENCE: Our district prescribes three science units for each grade. Often for combination classes the district gives us special science units that students would not get in a one-grade classroom. These units are high-interest and hit all the science processes students in one-grade classrooms are also learning.
Earlier I said there are great benefits in a combination class for my students and for me. The benefit for me is that I get to stretch my thinking and try new things. I enjoy learning the curriculum of both grades. It's fascinating to see how the work of third graders builds on the strong foundation of second grade. I love watching the huge leaps of learning students of both grades make.
The benefits for students are even bigger. Every child seems to do better work when they are in a combination class. The second graders want to impress me and show they can do what the third graders do. The third graders do not want the second graders to catch them, so they seem to work extra hard. Second graders see the third graders as role models. Third graders gain amazing confidence as leaders.
I always look forward to combination classes. I know this will be a wonderful year for our class.