Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Cross Grade Grouping

This year we have been in the unique position of implementing cross grade group learning opportunities with our Prep to Year 3 students. At the heart of our school focus lies the belief that by establishing a strong culture of connectedness, we lay the foundations for a compassionate community of purposeful and fully engaged learners. This approach is guided by the understanding that each of us have varying strengths, skill and passion to contribute to our learning community.

Cross grade groups allow students to work with other students of varying abilities, ages and interests. We have found this helpful with students of all ability levels and to be especially useful in developing cross grade friendships with our older students, and particularly valuable for improving the social skills of our younger students. Developing a collaborative school culture that focuses on care, cooperation and consideration requires considerable thought around how students learn best. Learning friendships are a vital element of any school community. Valuing the unique contribution of every learner ensures an embracive approach to learning. This is the journey that we are on.

Multi-level learning opportunities have allowed time for our students who might be struggling to work alongside more able peers in a powerful peer tutoring experience. A student with a strength in reading enjoys the chance to read aloud to a friend while enhancing their own fluency and automaticity. A struggling reader listens to the flow of words, perhaps learns new skills for decoding unfamiliar words (or implements taught strategies with assistance) with both students delving deeper into the comprehension of text through a final discussion at the end. Likewise a struggling reader with strengths in another area is valued for their contribution during the collaboration process at another time. A focus on each students strengths means that every student has something to offer the learning community from their unique perspective. We can all learn from each other, young and old alike. I have learnt a zillion interesting things about the age of the dinosaurs from a very passionate young soul.

The flip side of this is that when we acknowledge those areas that need strengthening, we give ourselves permission to find answers, question thinking, ask for help and allow true learning to take place. Learning should be identifiable by these specific characteristics. On a day to day basis, teachers are always taking into account each students differences in developmental levels and styles and catering for this within the classroom. Collaborating with other teachers and classes extends the parameters of the regular classroom, thus opening new frontiers for learning. This assists in developing wonderfully homogeneous learning contexts.

A collaboration of ability, skill and passion builds strength in every individual.

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