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Any idea about how multiple grade teachers can plan for differentiated age groups?

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In a multi-grade classroom, you need to throw out traditional methods and the assumptions that back them.  Rather than grouping students by grade, group and teach them by level.  In a combination class you want to make sure to teach each grade‚Äôs grade-level core, but also group students by like need.  Flexible groups are the key, so that students stay in a group based on what they need to learn rather than what age or grade they belong to.

The key to differentiated instruction is assessment.  You need to asses students before beginning a unit of study, to see what they need to learn.  Then group students that need to learn the same things together and teach them in groups.  Arrange your classroom so that some students have assignments on which they can work independently while  you teach the small group.

You might be asking where you can get the resources for this type of teaching.  You can find them online or develop them yourself, of course, but you can also use several different grade level textbooks and workbooks in one class.  Have your students ignore the grade level and change books depending on what they need to work on.

Of course, sometimes the same students always end up in the groups.  There is nothing wrong with this, because each child will still be working at his or her ability and also receiving the grade level core.  Do not be concerned with whether or not students master the grade level core, because they are still going to be learning in their leveled groups.

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Centers and small group instruction are a good way to differentiate.  The students can practice skills at differentiated centers.  Not every student has to have the same assignment at each center.  The teacher can groups of students with similar needs to help them with a given skill.

During whole group instruction, differentiation can be done through the use of differentiated graphic organizers.  The entire group can work on the same skill (cause and effect, main idea, etc.), but the depth of understanding required for each graphic organizer may be different.

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I think the key is differentiated instruction. Whether you are in a classroom with same age students or multiple grade students if you practice differentiated instruction you should be able to teach to all students.

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Your question seems to be asking about how we differentiate to cater to the needs of a mixed ability group of students. Differentiation is also known as accommodation as we seek to make our teaching meet the individual needs and strengths of all students. By thinking about such things, we consider how we can "teach to each," recognising that in any group of students we are going to have students who learn differently, who are of different abilities and some of whom need extra support or extra challenges.

There are lots of strategies and tactics you can use in such a situation. Differentiated work sheets are a very good idea, as you give a series of activities, but make it clear which activities you wish everyone to complete, which activities only some will complete, and which you only expect a few to complete. You also might consider mixed ability groups, where stronger students are set alongside weaker students to support and help them.

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The keywords in planning for differentiated groups is: Skills-based instruction.

What you need to do is get the list of standards from your specific district and, along with your teaching team, break them down into which particular skills the students are supposed to be learning.

Once you have it down to the skills, create activities that target them whether they are in the basal reader or not. For instance, if the students need to know fractions and the basal reader dedicates 5 pages to this skill, you may or may not feel at ease on whether they got it or not.

Hence, plan outside of the norm and make a list of several activities (you can find a myriad online) where you can address the skill by age level and developmental appropriateness without having to resort to traditional planning methods.

The important thing is that, as you plan, you should list the skills and also you should level the skills to the specific needs of each student. It sounds like a lot of work, but it isn't.

All you need to do is keep a checkerboard template with the name of each student on each blank space. As you do formative assessments, you can see ahead of time what skills some of the students (on both age groups) are missing.

After you make a note of that, build centers using online-based activities or other things found online to specifically address the needs for those skills.

The whole gist is: When you plan, do NOT do it by the book. Just list the skills, and put down the names of the students who need to master them. Whatever age a student is, whether 8 or 18, when a skill is not mastered, it should be addressed independently.

Just imagine if a 14 year old STILL cannot capitalize and punctuate. Then, unfortunately, he will need to master a 2nd grade skill. Yet, that is alright as long as you make it non-threatening and fun, and (yes) you may have to add that student to your elementary school skills list.Just do not tell him. :)

Those are the signs of the time, and they are changing when it comes to education. And those are good signs!

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