A Teacher’s Guide to Combined Grades
Evaluate yourself as you
foster independence
Fostering independence in learning is not
easy. It requires that teachers teach the skills
to students so students can adapt and tailor
the strategy to their own learning needs. As
always, reflection is needed to ensure that
this gradual release is productive for student
Here are some tips from experienced
combined grade teachers who have done this
Do not rush this process. Take your time
modelling and practicing with students. By
going slowly at the beginning, students will
gain increased independence and confidence
later during the application stage.
Take baby steps when sharing responsibility
with students. After teacher-directed
modelling, it is important to choose roles for
students that are appropriate, manageable
and easy to access. As students slowly begin
to master these tasks, increase the length
and complexity of the tasks.
All students do not learn at the same pace.
Some students quickly grasp a concept or
skill while other students might need many
opportunities to practice and refine their
To differentiate instruction, clearly lay out your
lesson beforehand and encourage students
to share responsibility on a variety of levels
based on their learning needs and ability.
Ensure that all students are consistently
being challenged and valued for their
differences in the classroom.
At the end of each lesson, make brief
anecdotal notes about student observations
based on whole and small group work.
This informal assessment tool will enable
you to easily develop small groups for
further guided practice and also allow you to
target individual students that are ready to
demonstrate and share their understanding of
a strategy with the whole group.
How can I make this happen in my classroom?