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Teaching in/Managing Multi-level Classrooms. What are Multi-level Classrooms?. Most teachers teach multi-level classes in some form, whether it be due to class size or other factors. The actual classroom may be a combination of two or more different types.

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Teaching in/Managing Multi-level Classrooms

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Teaching in managing multi level classrooms l.jpg

Teaching in/Managing Multi-level Classrooms


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What are Multi-level Classrooms?

  • Most teachers teach multi-level classes in some form, whether it be due to class size or other factors. The actual classroom may be a combination of two or more different types.

    • Combined classes of different year levels

    • Classes of mixed proficiency levels

    • Native-speakers or learners with an extensive background in the target language along with learners of an immersion program

    • Classes of mixed motivation levels


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Reasons for Establishing Multi-level classrooms

  • Pedagogical philosophies in favor of multi-level classrooms i.e. a ‘continuum of learning’ across a two year span

  • Low student populations

  • Availability of space/faculty—i.e. no space/faculty available for special programs

  • Regardless of pedagogical or demographic reasons, multi-level classrooms can provide quality learning.


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Advantages of Multi-level Classrooms

  • Students are able to learn at their own pace (within reason)

  • Students learn to work well in groups

  • Students become independent learners, modeling future occupational work environments

  • Students become partners in learning

  • Students become partners in learning


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Disadvantages of Multi-level Classrooms

  • Finding appropriate resources and teaching materials

  • Organizing appropriate groupings within the class, especially when personalities clash

  • Building and effective self-access center in class

  • Determining the individual needs of each student

  • Ensuring that all students remain challenged and interested


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Advantages and Challenges of Multi-level Classrooms for the teacher: The PRO’s

  • A more rewarding teaching experience as you really get to practice your craft

  • Learn more about the way a student learns whether that is auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learning


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Advantages and Challenges of Multi-level Classrooms for the teacher: The CON’s

  • More preparation time

  • Not knowing where to begin as the year starts

  • More demanding in-class activity for the teacher


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Types of Multi-level classrooms

  • Multiple Grade Levels

    • Multiple curricula

    • As much as a 3 year difference in age

    • Potential for a very wide stretch of material needed to be offered for remedial/accelerated students in both grades


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Types of Multi-level classrooms

  • Multiple Proficiencies in Class

    • Even in classes as small as 7 or 8 students, it would be highly unusual to have a class that is completely homogenous in ability

    • Be prepared for differences and be proactive about finding solutions that best fit a child’s educational needs


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Multiple Proficiencies Multi-level classrooms

  • Identifying late developers, grade-level developers, accelerated developers, and gifted developers.

  • In lieu of full-time remedial or TAG/GATE programs, each class has to be a self-contained learning environment accommodating all learners.


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The Standard Normal Distribution Curve (Bell Curve)


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Standard Normal Distribution Curve Sample: IQ


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Reading Percentiles

  • A percentile number denotes “what % of the test population scored lower than that particular student on a particular test.

  • For example, a student who scores in the 90th percentile on a math test scored higher than 90% of the students who took that same test and scored lower than 10% of the population who took the same test. The percentile tells you NOTHING about the raw score.


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Sample Percentile Scores


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Multiple Proficiencies Multi-level classrooms

  • Techniques for identifying both late developing and gifted students

    • There are multiple age-appropriate tools, usually segmented into Pre-K (for 4 year olds), K-2nd, 3rd-8th, 9th and up (almost exclusively for non-native language speakers


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Multiple Proficiencies Multi-level classrooms: techniques for identifying gifted students

  • It is easier to identify an older gifted student since there are records of academic achievements although they may not tell the entire story

  • There are both intellectual and emotional clues that may, but not definitely confirm, a gifted student.

  • Intellectual signs: has a high verbal ability relative to age, reads earlier than average, often remembers large volumes of information or specific details, has a longer attention span at an earlier age, learns concepts and tasks quickly, ask plenty of “what if” questions, makes unusual connections at an early age, enjoys intellectual activities/games, can problem solve.


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Multiple Proficiencies Multi-level classrooms: techniques for identifying gifted students

  • Emotional qualities: responds well to the company of older people, is compassionate at an early age and displays many fears, has an unusual sensitivity to the feelings and expectations of others, is a perfectionist, expects early success and gets frustrated by failure, can spot inconsistencies, has a highly developed sense of humor at a young age.


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Multiple Proficiencies Multi-level classrooms: techniques for identifying gifted students

  • There are many different definitions of gifted students, but most programs and educational organizations consider students who score 3 standard deviations away from the mean on cognitive, aptitude or skills tests to be gifted.

  • Most TAG or GATE programs accept students who score in the 90th+ %tiles on reading and math tests.

  • We currently have 16 different students who would qualify for one or more TAG or GATE program


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Multiple Proficiencies Multi-level classrooms: techniques for identifying gifted students

  • Remember, there are multiple intelligences: visual/spatial, verbal/linguistic, logical/mathematical, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. It’s difficult to create a program for all of these types of intelligences.

  • Being identified as gifted does NOT necessarily produce results. The Potential is identified, not the actual production.

  • Harvard School of Education experiment: you, you, you, you, and you.


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Multiple Proficiencies Multi-level classrooms: techniques for identifying late developing students (especially younger students)

  • Intellectual signs: has a low verbal ability relative to age and finds it hard to articulate thoughts, reads later than average, finds it difficult to recall facts and information, has a shorter attention span at an earlier age, learns concepts and tasks arduously and through many repetitions if at all, finds it difficult to make connections between concepts, learns the alphabet later than average, finds it difficult to correctly write the alphabet in both cases after much repetition and time, finds it difficult to order numbers, finds it difficult to conceptual size and amount.


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Multiple Proficiencies Multi-level classrooms: techniques for identifying gifted and late developing young students

  • Tools for identifying ability in younger students i.e. grades K-2

  • 10 recommend tests as per Washington, Oregon, Texas, and other departments of education

  • The Auditory Analysis test, Decoding Skills tests, Degree of Reading Power test, the Observation Survey, Qualitative Reading Inventory, the Roswell-Chall diagnostic reading test, Slosson Oral Reading Test (SORT), the Test of Phonological Awareness, The Texas (or California) Primary Reading Inventory, The Yopp-Singer Test of Phoneme Segmentation


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Multiple Proficiencies Multi-level classrooms: techniques for identifying gifted and late developing older students

  • Identifying raw ability in older students i.e. grades 3 and up is much the same as it is with younger students, but it is easier to measure actual performance due to a body of work the student has produced i.e. writing samples, tests, standardized tests, etc.


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Sample Reading Test Evaluation with Corresponding RIT scores

*Likely to meet standards

**Likely to exceed standards


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RIT interpretation

http://www.nwea.org/support/details.aspx?content=532


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Multi-level Classrooms with a mix of native and non-native English speakers

  • Although there are a many differences, our classes have taken the approach that this is a variable of the multi-proficiency multi-level classroom.

  • Since there is no official ESL program at the school, currently non-native speakers go through a de facto immersion program


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Strategies for the multi-level classroom

  • The very first thing that a teacher of a multi-level classroom should do is assess the students ability as soon as possible.

  • For older students, past records, achievement/standardized test scores, writing samples should be checked to see where the student excels, where they need help.

  • The teacher should ask the questions: Is the student late in developing? Is the student accelerated? Is the student truly gifted?

  • For younger students who have no records, teacher observations should be cross-referenced with age appropriate milestones. If the teacher observes unusually slow development or unusually high ability, one or more of the available tests should be administered to get a better idea of what will best stimulate the child’s learning


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Strategies for the multi-level classroom: selection of texts and materials

  • Selecting a core text is of vital importance. Most texts offer challenge problems/activities/passages for the accelerated learner and remedial support for the late developing learner,

  • Multiple texts can and should be used when feasible. For a language class, multiple level books can be used to create reading groups to let students learn at their own pace.

  • Math classes can use ‘application’ texts along with ‘concept’ texts. Concept texts challenge the student to think logically and not just copy/follow the examples shown.


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Strategies for the multi-level classroom: self-access materials

  • Make sure everything is well labeled and organized.

  • The materials should reflect the needs and interests of the students in your class. Self-Access materials can be intimidating for students if you just have a shelf full of textbooks.

  • It is best to photocopy many copies of worksheets and exercises.

  • You can provide a lot of these materials via the myteacher webpages. 

  • Have puzzles, intellectual games available for the student who routinely finishes early and needs stimulation. Get to know this student’s habits and see what works well in intellectually stimulating him/her.

  • Crosswords, suduku, other puzzles


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Strategies for the multi-level classroom: groups and pairings

  • Successful pairings and groupings are key to a successful multi-level classroom

  • Sometimes the most obvious pairings or groupings i.e. by ability, reading level, etc. don’t work due to clashing personalities or other issues

  • Cross-ability pairings along with like-ability pairings should be rotated throughout the year to keep things fresh.

  • Some students might also spend time by themselves depending upon their ability with a special assignment. It is up to the teacher to continually find projects to keep this type of student stimulated. The internet has hundreds of ideas. 


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Strategies for the multi-level classroom: groups and pairings

  • Start with a warm-up that involves the whole group.

  • Break part of the class off into one type of grouping (i.e. pairs) and work with part of the class on a lesson, grammar point, or activity.

  • Break off the class into another type of grouping (i.e. small groups) and have the other students use self-access materials.

  • Bring the class back together for a whole group activity/game.


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Strategies for the multi-level classroom: other ideas

  • Isolate students within the class who are interested in peer tutoring.

  • This doesn't always have to be the student with the highest level of English/Math/Etc. Your students who fall somewhere in the middle may in fact be the most valuable to you, as they strive to attain a level of competency comparable to the most advanced students. Remind your students that the best way to practice and improve a new language/skill/concept is to teach it to someone else.

  • Consider enlisting a volunteer

    • Teaching a multi-level classroom will be exhausting for even the most energtic of teachers so getting a volunteer to help with some of the non-pedagogical task i.e. copying, collating, organizing, etc. may be helpful.


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Strategies for the Multi-level Classroom: know your limits

  • It may be that you have tried everything in your power to help a student learn and they simply have not for one reason or another.

  • If this is the case, simply continuing on with failed strategies (given that a reasonable amount of time and effort has been put in place) is not beneficial for anyone


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Conclusion

  • Multi-level teaching is difficult and time consuming

  • However, it leads to a rich curriculum for students

  • In lieu of an official ESL, TAG, GATE, or remedial program, multi-level teaching is the ONLY way to ensure that each student gets an education that is intellectually stimulating.


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Conclusion

  • Multi-level teaching is difficult and time consuming

  • However, it leads to a rich curriculum for students

  • In lieu of an official ESL, TAG, GATE, or remedial program, multi-level teaching is the ONLY way to ensure that each student gets an education that is intellectually stimulating.


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Conclusion

  • The teacher if he is indeed wise does not teach you to enter the house of wisdom but leads you to the threshold of your own mind. - Kahlil Gilbran

  • I have lived some thirty years on this planet, and I have yet to hear the first syllable of valuable or even earnest advice from my seniors. - Henry David Thoreau

  • The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires - William Arthur Ward

  • To know yet to think that one does not know is best; Not to know yet to think that one knows will lead to difficulty. - Lao-Tzu


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