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What is multigrade teaching

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Multigrade teaching ultigrade teaching involves the teaching of

guide for Zambian children from two or more grade levels in one
teachers. classroom.
Such contexts requires the employment of
particular teaching methodologies and
classroom administration.
Since Multigrade classes are smaller and can be
established more cheaply than complete schools, they
can be more numerous, therefore more dispersed and thus
Home located closer to the settlements where the children
live. This means both that younger children can attend
Guide for organizing a and that the time children spend travelling between
Multigrade Teaching
Workshop in your
school and home can be reduced to an acceptable level.
province,district,zone or This in turn means that there is sufficient time
school. outside school hours for the children to continue to
What is multigrade teaching contribute to the family's economic activity .
Attending school is therefore likely to be more
Classroom management
Multigrade material
acceptable to the families concerned, and thus both
development increase the number of children receiving education and
Tips for the multigrade reduce the failure rate.
teacher Multigrade schools, being smaller and more dispersed,
Teaching in the multigrade would enjoy much closer links with the smaller
Survey to assess the impact
communities that they would be set up to serve.
of a multigrade teaching This would have a very positive effect on local
workshop attitudes and access to education.
Demonstration lesson plan for The professional teacher is a key resource person in
a multigrade lesson on the
subject staggering option the Multigrade context. The local content is a
Lesson plans integrated per significant part of the curriculum, it is particularly
grade.You can put yourself important to resolve the issue of appointing well-
the lessons in the multigrade trained and locally-oriented teachers.
More sample lesson
preparations. Have a good
Lesson preparation book
made by students.

Definitions of terms
Multigrade and monograde terms need to be used with precision because the conflation of studies from
different contexts has possibly led to misleading claims being made for the cognitive effects of multigrade
settings. It is particularly important to distinguish between terms referring to mixed age classes formed by
administrative necessity and those formed by choice (Mason and Burns, 1997; Veenman, 1995). The
latter usually occur within a non-graded context where there may be special curricula, instructional
materials, and teachers, while the former occur in graded contexts where there may be no special
provisions made. The following terms are defined here:

 Small school
 Monograde school
 Multigrade class
 Monograde class
 Multiage class
 Other multigrade contexts
Small school

This is defined as a primary school in which there are fewer teachers than grades and consequently the
majority of classes must of necessity contain more than one grade level. Small schools are frequently
found in rural and sparsely populated areas in both developed and developing countries. They are also
sometimes referred to as multigrade schools. Phillips (1997) provides a useful critique of the small school

Monograde school

This is contrasted to the previous term and is defined as a primary school in which the majority of the
classes are organised along monograde lines. These schools tend to be larger in both pupil and teacher
numbers than multigrade schools, ensuring that there are sufficient teachers to take a separate grade
level class. Although these schools sometimes employ multigrade organization to deal with fluctuating
enrollment, it is unlikely that this will occur in the majority of classes. When it does occur, there is likely to
be selection of students to the multigrade class (see below).

Multigrade school
This term is used to describe any class in which students of different grade levels are placed together for
administrative reasons. This includes multigrade classes in both multigrade schools, where multigrading
is a response to the fact that there are less teachers than grade levels, and larger schools, where
multigrading is a response to uneven pupil intake (Veenman, 1995; Mason and Burns, 1997). Several
other terms may be used in the literature to refer to a multigrade classroom. These include combination
class, vertically grouped class, mixed age class, split-grade class, and double grade class (the latter two
terms for classes containing only two grades).It is also necessary to distinguish between multigrade
classes to which students cannot be selected on the basis of such things as ability or attitude (non-
purposefully assigned) and multigrade classes to which students can be selected (purposefully assigned).
Mason and Burns (1997) introduce these two terms to explain why many studies of multigrade settings
find no difference in cognitive achievement when compared with monograde settings. Students are
always non-purposefully assigned to multigrade classes in multigrade schools. Studies of the effects of
multigrade classroom organisation have not always made this distinction explicit.

Monograde class

A class that contains students of a single grade level, but usually of mixed abilities. Normally such classes
contain students of a similar age range, but in countries where repetition and acceleration are common, a
monograde class may also be mixed age (Noonan and Hallack, 1987). The term single age class is
sometimes used to identify classes that contain students of a specified age range congruent with grade

Multiage class

A class that has been organised across grade levels and ages by choice and for pedagogical reasons
(Veenman, 1995; Bacharach et al, 1995; Mulcahy, 1999). Such classes may occur in either graded or
ungraded school contexts. Other terms used to describe classes formed across age/grade level
boundaries by choice include vertically grouped classes, non-graded classes, and ungraded classes.
Multiage classes can vary in terms of the complexity of the instructional strategies employed. For
example, students of different ages may be deliberately grouped together for one subject with the
intention of reducing heterogeneity of ability and making it easier to teach the whole class. On the other
hand, multiage grouping may be introduced across the curriculum in order to take advantage of the
perceived advantages of mixed age classes for focusing on the developmental needs of individual
children (Gutierrez and Slavin, 1994). Multiage classes, particularly of the latter type, tend to differ in two
important respects from multigrade classes (Mulcahy, 1999: 5):

 Multigrade classes tend to be graded whereas multiage classes are intended to be ungraded

 In multiage classes students of different ages and grade levels are integrated into one learning
community, whereas in multigrade classes, grade levels remain distinct.

Other multigrade contexts

Multigrade classes may also occur in large urban and suburban schools that have uneven or fluctuating
student enrollment. For example, a two form entry school may have an intake of students only sufficient
for one and a half classes. Consequently, a class may be formed from two year groups. While these
classes have much in common with those found in small schools, they differ in one important respect.
Students can be purposefully assigned to a multigrade class in a large school on the basis of such things
as ability or attitudes. Mason and Burns, 1997 describe the possible implications of purposeful
assignment in their review article.