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Classroom management
Multigrade teaching guide for Zambian teachers.


Guide for organizing a Multigrade Teaching Workshop in your province,district,zone or school.
What is multigrade teaching ?
Classroom management
Multigrade material development
Tips for the multigrade teacher
Teaching in the multigrade classroom
Survey to assess the impact of a multigrade teaching workshop
Demonstration lesson plan for a multigrade lesson on the subject staggering option
Lesson plans integrated per grade.You can put yourself the lessons in the multigrade way.
More sample lesson preparations. Have a good time.
Lesson preparation book made by students.

a. Organising the Multigrade Classroom


When you have a wide range of age, ability, maturity and interests among the class, it is very important that your classroom is highly organised and structured. Everyone needs to know where to find things, how to store things, where to sit for different activities, where to put completed work etc.

The multigrade classroom may look quite different to a traditional classroom. Instead of desks in lines, all facing the chalkboard, you may see:

-Desks organised into small groupings

-A space in the centre of the room, or perhaps some marked spaces around the room where groups can sit on the floor and work

-Workstations or learning centres, where individuals and groups may go to complete activities. These will be made by the teacher and could include maths, writing, language centres, or focus on the theme being taught.

-Resources kept on shelves around the outside of the room, in boxes which are labelled to help the group identify what they need

-Boxes or folders for students work to be kept in

 -Plenty of examples of individual and group work on display

-Whatever the physical arrangement, multigrade teachers need to be flexible in their approach and their classroom space may be reorganised often.

b. General guidelines for classroom organisation


Decide which parts of the classroom are appropriate for display of the students work, charts, etc. Make the best use of the space available. It is not a good idea to block the light by covering the windows with posters and paintings. Display boards, soft boards painted white are very useful. You can pin or staple work on them and change displays easily.

Some points to consider:

The classroom environment should be interesting for the whole range of students in it.

All students should feel it is their classroom

-Students work should be shown carefully and thoughtfully so they can see you value their efforts

-Students can learn something from discussing with the teacher which work should be chosen for display

-Ensure a balance of work is displayed, not just the best students work

-Students like to see their name on their work. It makes them feel proud

-Use displays to reinforce thematic work that you are working on in the classroom

-Try to change displays regularly. It allows all students to have a chance at showing some of their work and increases motivation


c.Making good use of display boards

Art and Craft Display

Materials: Two pieces of paper for each student, scissors and glue .Draw a picture on one piece of paper. Use another piece to make a window. Stick it around the edges.Cut it so it will open


d. Other ways to display materials

Students written work, drawings or paintings can be hung on strings above their heads. This is also a good way of displaying a large print story for the whole class to read together.

String can be bought from the local store, or fishing line works well too. You could make your own string from coconut fibre.


Getting to know Grade 3/4

Back your board with large pieces of paper.Each student draws and colours a large portrait of themselves. Cut them out and stick them together to make a class group.Add some greetings, use the different vernacular languages spoken in the room.


Art and Craft

Prepare your board first. Pin up paper to cover the whole area. Paint or colour the background. Paint the blue sea,rocks, green seaweed.Students draw and colour fish. Stick on the background. Label if  you wish


Using mats made locally of pandanus or coconut leaves are a good

way to create display space. The displays can be attached to the

mat, hung on a nail, and later stored away if necessary.

Attaching a mat to a wooden frame also provides more display

space. Work can be attached with pins, tape or staples.

Where the wall space is unsuitable for display, attach a mat to the wall to create more display space. You could make a portable display stand using a wooden frame of soft wood or bamboo with a thick pandanus mat nailed permanently to it. This can be used as a divider in your room and is useful when small groups are working on different activities.

Mobiles are an interesting way to display students craft work, like wood carvings or small models.Words displayed in English on one side, and vernacular on the other can also be displayed on mobiles.

Multigrade teachers may find it useful to have several blackboards in the classroom. They can be fixed to the wall, (maybe at a low level for smaller children) or mobile, so they can be moved around the room.


Activity 6


Choose one way of displaying students work, and make it. It will be a

useful teaching aid when you are posted to a school.


Activity 7


In your group, draw two classroom plans. The first one should show a traditional classroom that you are familiar with. Show how the room is organised and where resources are kept. On your second plan, design a multigrade classroom. Show how you might organise things differently.



Try to make the best available use of cupboards and shelves by placing them where they will suit your needs. Students need easy access to books and

materials. Facilities for storage will vary. Many classrooms will be short of space and wont have purpose built storage units. Here are some hints:

-Store similar things together

-Collect similar sized containers. Eg margarine,

ice cream containers, plastic boxes or strong

cartons of all shapes and sizes

-Label clearly all storage areas. The students

could complete this task as a language


-Let the students share in the storage activities.

They should know where and how things are stored. Students should be given the job of maintaining the storage areas.

-Check storage areas regularly and throw out things you dont need

-Useful storage. If you have some things you wish to keep, but are not using at the moment, put them into a storeroom if the school has one. Dont clutter up your classroom with them.

-Personal space. Make sure every student has personal storage space for their own things. This could be a container, properly labelled and stored on a shelf.

-Cleaning. Make sure personal storage units are cleaned out regularly. If not, their space will end up piled with all sorts of rubbish taking up valuable space. Make time for a clean up every few weeks.


e.Managing the teaching in a multigrade classroom


When you have a wide range of abilities, and often ages, all together in the same room, it is not always effective to try and teach the class as a whole in all subjects and all the time.

There are a number of teaching strategies that a multigrade teacher could use. These strategies are equally as useful in a traditional classroom of one grade level.




Whole class teaching

This is the simplest approach for the teacher. There is only one lesson to prepare and the lesson is aimed at the average ability in the class. It is easier for you to keep an eye on the students and keep good discipline


There are disadvantages for the multigrade situation if you use this way of teaching all the time.

-The whole class teaching is often very teacher centred

-The lesson is aimed at the average student and in the multigrade classroom, there will be a wide range of abilities. Low achievers may get frustrated, high achievers may get bored.

-Discipline can become a problem with students who are not interested because the work is too hard or too easy.Whole class teaching is still important in the multigrade classroom, but student centred activities should be presented most of the time. Some activities where whole class teaching works well are:

-Story telling and reading by the teacher

-Students news

Introduction to lessons, where the whole class works together with the teacher, then breaks into groups to complete activities

-Modelled reading and writing by the teacher to introduce the language lesson

-Physical education, music, drama

Individualised teaching

The teacher works on a one-to-one basis with a student. The student may be working on the same task as others, or may have special work to suit the level of the students ability. The rest of the class must be engaged in purposeful activity if the teacher is to focus on one student only. This can be hard to organise if you have a lot of students in a crowded classroom.

One of the common ways teachers spend individual time with students is hearing the student read aloud. You can organise to hear every student read over a period of a week if you schedule the times when the rest of the class is working independently.You must be sure that all students at some time get your individual attention, not just the ones who may be experiencing difficulties.


Small group teaching

This is the most effective way of allowing for student centred learning at a level to meet the needs of the student.


Grouping students in the Multigrade Classroom


Activity 8

Write down a few examples of group work you have seen during your

practice teaching, or during your lectures. How were the groups formed?

How did the groups work? What were they doing? Was it a successful

strategy? Why?

In the multigrade classroom (and also the traditional classroom), there will be students of different ages, abilities, needs and interests. If we are catering for the needs of students in the class, we cant give everyone the same work to do all the time. A variety of activities, requiring different outcomes can better cater for the individual student. Working in groups is one way to enable students to engage in different activities at the same

time.Grouping students enables students to work on tasks suitable to their needs,and the teaching and learning are focused on the student, not so much the teacher.






Activity 9

A.Reflect on your learning experiences in groups. Did working in a group

assist your learning? How? What is your experiences with group work in

the classrooms you have visited?



B.Read the following extract from a student teachers reflective journal. Answer the followi ng questions.

1. What do you think went wrong with this lesson?

2. What could the teacher have done to improve the way the students

worked in groups?

My lesson was a disaster today. The students were ok when the whole class

was together, but when I told them to go and work in groups, the lesson fell

apart. The students couldnt get themselves into groups and they didnt know

what to do. Many of the groups just played around, wandered around and

didnt complete the work. They were noisy, not on task, and it seemed just

one or two m embers in each group were doing all the work. They cant work

on their own. How can I keep every group under control, when I can only be

with one group at a time? Working with groups is too hard. Im not going to try it again.



Activity 10

Look at the following activities and decide which type of group(s) would be most suitable. Discuss your answer with your partner.

-Big book shared reading lesson

-Reading aloud/ buddy reading

-Art activity

-Maths activity covering different levels of objectives

-Morning talk / show and tell

-Story writing

-Role play of a story

-Word building/vocabulary activities

-Problem solving in Mathematics.




f. Working in groups: structuring the group


The difference between successful group work and disorganised, unproductive group work is structure. There are two important parts of group work to structure:

1. Structuring the group process

2. Structuring the task


Structuring the group process: roles in groups


There are several reasons why teachers assign specific tasks to individuals in a small group:

-To keep the group organised

-To optimise the chances of using higher order thinking skills

-To stop outgoing members dominating the group

-To help shy students participate

-To give easily distracted students something to do

The roles you choose for a particular lesson will depend on the nature of the task and how well the teams are working together. The following table lists a number of roles that teachers have found useful. You probably wont use all these roles in one activity, but choose the ones that best match the objectives of the lesson.


The students routines


Students need to know how the classroom operates and what they are responsible for doing.

Clear routines assist students in developing responsibility for their learning.

Students should know what work they should be doing at any one time. The teacher needs to establish the ways in which work will be set. It may be for the whole class, for a group or for an individual. Blackboards, verbal and / or written instructions, worksheets, etc can be used.

Students should know how books and other learning materials are

distributed, collected and stored. The individual or group should be

responsible for returning teaching and learning materials to their correct place.

Students should know what to do when they need help but the teacher is unavailable. If a student is having difficulties with the instructions or the task, they should know who they can ask for help, eg the group leader, their partner, etc, before they approach the teacher.

Students should know how to have work marked or checked. Teachers should avoid long queues at their desk of students waiting to have their work marked.

They quickly get bored and restless. It is good to have other activities they can

carry on with on their own. Many teachers find it better to actually leave their

desk and move around the room to the students. They can sit beside the

student to help them and to check their work. Other ideas include letting

students mark their own work, or make self-check work cards with answer

keys. Older students can check the work of younger students. Of course, the

teacher will need to closely monitor this, and students will need to be taught

how to mark work. This leaves the teacher free to collect the books less

frequently, perhaps checking at the end of each day. Not all teaching will be

suitable to be marked in this way.

Students should know what to do when they are finished. When students are working in small groups or individually, they must know what to do when they are finished so they will not cause disruption to the teacher and the class. The students who finish early should know what they can carry on with without the teachers help. They should know where to go, what to do and why they are doing it. A list of activities could be put on the board, they might go to the learning centre, finish incomplete work, play some games prepared by the teacher for such times, read etc. If the students are clear on what to do they

will not bother you and the other students.

Students should be given responsibility. Multigrade teachers can help themselves and at the same time help their students by giving them real responsibility in the classroom. They should tell them which tasks and duties are the responsibility of the students. The use of monitors, or helpers for particular jobs is most useful. These students should be rotated so that different students have an opportunity to develop responsibility.


Activity 11

Make a list of jobs that students could take responsibility for in your

classroom. Think of a way that you can display this changing list

((remember you need to rotate the students)


g. Learning centres: managing individual learning


A learning centre is a carefully constructed learning component of the

classroom in which the materials and resources are arranged to allow

students to learn knowledge, skills and understandings in an independent

mode of learning.

Learning centres can take any form that teachers want them to take and they can last one day, a week, or have a life of the entire year. Many teachers set up learning centres to match with the theme being studied in the classroom.

The learning centre can serve one or a number of purposes. Most teachers who begin with learning centres begin with one initially until they feel comfortable and relaxed enough to setup another. Whatever the number and form of the learning centres, the most important point is to recognise that learning centres are places in the classroom where students go to learn and practice.

There are great benefits in having learning centres in multigrade classrooms for both students and teachers. Learning centres provide opportunities for students to work at their own pace and at their own level through a series of activities on the same topic. Activities can range from

easy recall and comprehension activities which teach and revise basic skills and concepts, to intellectually challenging, creating and judging activities.

A well planned learning centre allows very able students to go further with a topic and challenge themselves. It also allows students who need more work on a topic to go over it again and practice specific parts independently or with the teacher and another student. Learning centres are very useful for those students who have finished early or who already know a topic and dont need to work through it again with the whole class. Instead, they can work at the learning centre on another related task.

At a learning centre a student can work:


-With a partner

-With a small group

-With a teacher

-With a peer tutor

-With a parent/volunteer


Learning centres help to shape a range of students skills in:

-Making decisions

-Working independently

-Following directions

-Revising and practicing work done in class

-Learning new concepts and being challenged to extend their thinking.

-Developing responsibility in using, caring for and packing up materials.

-Working with others

-Sharing ideas and materials with classmates

-Creating a variety of products

-Seeking direction and help when necessary

-Keeping records on what they are doing

-Evaluating how well they have worked and what they have produced



A Step by Step Guide to Planning and Setting up a Learning


1. Decide on your topic

2. Check the syllabus objectives for the topic

3. Decide what your completed centre will look like

4. Write a range of task cards for the topic

at different levels

5. Write instructions for the use of the centre

6. Collect resources to put in the Learning Centre. Make sure there are resources related

to each of the task cards.

7. Use people power to help you run the

learning centres.


Writing Task Cards

-Write one task per card. Use Blooms taxonomy to help you write tasks

that range from easy recall and comprehension tasks to challenging

higher-level thinking tasks.

-Make the cards attractive and interesting. Some illustrations, drawn or cut

out add interest to the card.

-Write the topic and a number on each task card. This helps the student to

keep reliable records.

-Use different colours to code each level: Colour coding creates an easy

way of ensuring the students work at appropriate levels for their abilities

and are challenged by the tasks.

-Write simple, clear directions so that students can work on their own.

-Explain teaching points on the cards, then follow with practice examples

and opportunities for the students to complete.

-Include a self marking component if possible, so that the student can

gain immediate feedback. This can be included on the back of the card,

or on a separate answer card.

-Organise the task cards into three levels.

o Level 1 asks the user to find out something out (yellow)

o Level 2 asks students to use their knowledge in some way (blue)

o Level 3 asks students to create something new or give an opinion


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