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Multiage Learning

A Parent’s Guide to Multiage Learning - Kennebunkport Consolidated School, RSU 21

What is Multiage Learning?

  • Students of different ages and grades are placed together in a classroom

  • Teaching is based on developmental levels rather than age/grade

  • Students remain with the same teacher for two years


Why Multiage Learning at KCS?

  • Multiage classrooms help us to balance enrollment with even class sizes.

  • Multiage classrooms provide students with more opportunities to be connected with a larger variety of students over their six years with us. 

  • Multiage classrooms allow our staff and students to collaborate in many ways throughout the year. 

  • Multiage classrooms allow teachers to personalize learning experiences for each individual child.


What are the benefits of Multiage Learning?

  • Authentic Social Situations that mirror family and society groups

  • Instruction focused on Personalized Learning

  • Increased Collaboration and Sense of Community

  • Mentorship and Leadership Experiences

  • Continuity (staying with a teacher for two years)

  • Experience with a Wider Spectrum of Learning Progressions for Goal Setting


Overview of Key Concepts in Multiage Learning:

From Multiage Learning Network Video Series on YouTube


FAQs ~ Multiage Learning - Kennebunkport Consolidated School, RSU 21


What curriculum resources do teachers use?

We use the scope and sequence information from the same curriculum resources as the rest of RSU 21 elementary schools (ie Fountas & Pinnell and Everyday Mathematics), yet design learning progressions of those standards to plan instruction. We continue to access Fountas & Pinnell and Everyday Mathematics curriculum resources and supplement with other resources as needed. We do NOT expect our teachers to teach two different grade levels of lessons from those resources on a regular basis.. 


How do teachers balance the needs of all students?

Just as teachers in straight graded classrooms work hard to differentiate learning for students, our teachers in a multiage classroom do the same. Since the instruction is planned with a closer eye to the students’ needs, personalizing learning experiences is actually easier in a multiage classroom than one would think. Learning is not limited by curriculum guidelines. Instruction is provided in whole class, small group, and individual groups as needed based on the learning concept/skill. Data is reviewed regularly as a collaborative team; so with three teachers planning for students, it helps to ensure that all needs are being addressed. 


How do students move throughout the day? Are they shared amongst the three classes on a team?

Teachers are still working on structuring how they may share students across the three classes in their grade level cluster teams. Each team looks a little different, and we update this information as needed. In the past, teachers have collaborated by specializing in one particular content area, so that students experience teaching with more than one teacher throughout their day. I expect that some of the teams may consider this type of approach within the multiage structure. During COVID when we are not able to mix classes, each class is be self-contained with one teacher and the same students for all content areas.


What does training and preparation look like for staff?

We spend time at Early Release Wednesdays and staff meetings learning and planning together. In addition, the teacher teams of three have release days to meet and plan as a team. Teachers do extensive curriculum work each summer. Teachers do learning on their own by researching websites, books, articles, etc. We have reached out and spoken with experts in the field who have years of experience with multiage learning. Some have offered to host some of our teachers to visit them, and others have come to speak with us here at KCS about their experiences. 


How do you know if the program is successful?

We have specific goals that we have set and monitor progress throughout the year. For example, one of our goals is that students have opportunities to connect with students beyond their own age/grade. Another goal is that students have more than one classroom option for placement. One more example is that the classes allow us to better balance class size within the school. While one factor influencing our decision to shift to multiage classes was our enrollment challenges, that is not the only reason for our decision. We believe that the philosophy of teaching in multiage groups is best for our students. As part of program success, we continue to monitor our students’ academic performance as well with classroom-based assessments, district-wide NWEA, and state MEA testing as well. Parents receive the district report cards and participate in conferences to hear/learn about your child’s learning during the year. 


Are some activities grade specific?

Yes, we recognize that there are some activities that are grade specific. For example, our first graders take the NWEA assessment, yet our kindergarten students do not. There are activities at the end of the year for our graduating fifth graders that are not necessarily for fourth grade students. These activities are just examples of a few times when we separate students based on their grade levels. Depending on the academic skills, there are times when students may receive instruction in grade level groupings. 


What about our field trips and collaboration with Kennebunkport Conservation Trust?

Multiage programming develops a plan to do field trips based on year one and year two rather than grade level specific content. So, they start with the year two field trips, so that no one missed any opportunities to participate in any field trips during their experience here at KCS by this transition. Of course, we continue to collaborate with the staff at Kennebunkport Conservation Trust for future planning.


Does this structure drive away some families or attract families?

We hope that this approach attracts families to KCS, especially once we’ve established the model and people have a better understanding of what it is and how learning happens in a multiage setting.