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Classroom management.
The Multigrade Teacher training module for Zambian teacher trainers
The history of Multigrade teaching in Zambia.
Challenges of multigrade teaching.
Classroom management.
Curriculum planning in a multigrade classroom.
Assessment and evaluation.
Documentation in multigrade teaching.
Instructional materials.
Final word





In the typical multigrade classroom where multiple activities are likely to occur at the same time, classroom organization is a critical factor in developing smooth, predictable routines.

We also know from research on effective classroom practice that when students have a clear understanding of classroom structure, procedures, and rules, they are more likely to follow them, especially if they had some involvement in decision making.

Although there is no single abest way to arrange your classroom, there are some general guidelines that apply to most multigrade settings.



a. The activity centres approach


An example is seatwork where students work independently at a desk.

Another example is pairwork where two students work together.

Three or more students working together is generally characterized as groupwork.

An activity center is best described as an area of the classroom that the teacher has designated for a specific purpose.

Another type of centre is a learning centre, a self-instruction learning activity that has been placed in clearly defined area of the classroom.

I can be in any subject and generally includes objectives, instructions and evaluation.

Another type of center is a subject area resource center. This is an area where student resources relating to a specific subject are located. For example resources related to the study of science may be allocated in one well-marked area of the classroom.


b. Answers to these questions should help you decide how to arrange your classroom in terms of activities that engage students.


What types of activities normally occur in your classroom?

What types of activities would you like to occur?

Do you have group projects?

Are there students who tutor?

Do you meet with individual students and small groups?

Is it important for students to be self-directed, or to be able to help themselves with little teacher interruption?


c. There are seven general types of activities found in most classroom:


1.    Quiet or individual study.

2.    Testing

3.    Whole-class instruction

4.    Partner work

5.    Group discussion

6.    Audiovisual and reference work

7.    Teacher tutoring or small- group instruction.


In the multigrade classroom there may be many different kinds of activities going on at the same time. Some students in fourth and fifth grade might be working on a group art project while two students may be peer tutoring in math. Two first-graders may meet with the teacher, and several students might be completing independent assignments requiring the use of a tape recorder and the computer. The teachers task is to arrange the classroom so that all these activities can take place at the same time with a minimum of disruption and of teacher direction and supervision.



d. Three step designing your multigrade classroom:


Step 1 = Describing the way it is now

Draw a floor plan of the room you will be teaching in. This may be the classroom you taught in last year or a new one.


Step 2 = Deciding on the types of activities that will occur.

Identify the specific learning activities that will take place in your room and write them on the lines below. It may be helpful to write down the types of behaviour you expect for each activity.


Step 3 = Drawing the final plan.

Review your drawing of the classroom in which you will be teaching in terms of the activities you have listed in step 2. Now lay out your classroom to promote the learning activities you desire, noting the placement of furnishings, materials and storage areas.


e. General guidelines:


        Room to move:

Bear in mind that children and you also need to be able to move freely between the groups of desks with a minimum of disturbance to others. Try to avoid jamming childrens desks and chairs against the wall.



Arrange the desk as far as possible so that the children do not have to work facing into direct sunlight. The light should come from the side of the child.



Two BB, one at either end of the classroom, are very useful for multiclass teaching.

Portable BB that can be moved for group work can be very handy too.





        The teachers table:

This should be carefully placed to give you the teacher an unobstructed view of the whole classroom. Of course the effective teacher spends very little time sitting at his or her desk.


        The reading corner:

The children come to this area for quiet, personal reading or to receive reading instruction. Be kept there, along with books, flashcards, reading games, etc


        The science & nature corner:

Children at primary school have an enormous curiosity about natural world around them. In this corner they can collect things that interest them. They may grow seeds here, collect fruits and nuts, or display their leaf rubbings. They may keep insects, reptiles, small mammals or fish in transparent containers.


        Art & craft corner:

This is where the art and craft materials are stored and if there is enough room, where are art and craft activities can take place. If there is a sink and tap in the room, the A&C corner should be located there.

Scrap materials could be stored here, string, wire, tape, pieces of dress material, plastic


        The shop:

In lower classes the class shop is valuable for childrens social language and mathematical development. The children play the roles of shopkeeper and costumer. Empty tins and packets can fill the shelves and coins and banknotes can be made from cardboard and paper.


f. Teaching-learning strategies:


Grouping is on of the strategies in Multigrade Teaching situation which can play an important role in the teaching-learning situation.

In multigrade teaching a teacher teaches more than one class in the same time or period.

The way Multigrade should be practised in Zambia is the Pamong approach;

P             Education of

A            Children by

M           Community

O            Parents

N            and

G            Teachers


In this multigrade approach the local community is invited to participate as tutors, local school-management coordinators, contributors of finds, materials and facilities and para-professional teaching staff, such as local experts in arts, culture, handicraft, language, history, religions etc


The school can be organized according to the seasons, weather, crops and customs of the area. Where children need to work school can take place after work.

Ability groups are used.

Teachers are left to organize their own time.

Teaching can be undertaken in turn in separated classrooms.

Block times and group activities are utilized.

The teacher comes from the local community, and parents are expected to support childrens education.


g. The function and the role of the multigrade teacher:



-         After cooperative group explorations activities and assessment, learners should be ready for independent work.

-         Create the appropriate learning environment.

-         The teacher is modelling the task.

-         Circulate the room and encourage each student to work hard.

-         Ask the children to talk quietly as they complete the work.

-         Once children are trained in working independently, they can go into a small group.

-         Learners keep their work in a folder.

-         Assessment is very important in determining learners levels as they progress through the activities.

Ex:  a week sample


a.     The first two-day of the week are used to introduce a concept to all the learners.

b.    The next three days are spent exploring and expanding the concept with small groups of learners.

c.     Children are grouped together according to their development needs

d.    While the teacher works with a small group, the other learners are rotating through activities, working on their own level.

e.    Two of the three activities are related to the concept previously introduced.

f.      During the week the small groups extend their knowledge through teacher led instruction while other learners work on their individual number.


Implementing this program involves a through explanation and modelling of the structure in order for the children to become responsible for their work, especially during small group days.

He activities and rotation schedule must be reviewed everyday.

Learners are required to ask other learners for assistance instead of interrupting the small group.

It takes time to build the structure without which this type of program could not exist.




g.Implementing the Multi-class


First: Will the benefit accrue through simply putting various ages together in the same room?

What are the advantages of having the same children over several years?

Second: Build a solid base of support among key-stakeholders:

-         community and parents

-         Teachers and administrators

Third: Build a climate throughout the school and community that is characterised by open communication and trust.

Finally: Implementation requires:

- Planning

-         Patience

-         Time

-         Understanding of the process of change.

Putting a multigrade program in place is easy compared to changing the way people think, especially when grade materials dominate curriculum and the textbook industry.




1.    Teachers of MC should have extra preparation time.

2.    Teachers assigned to MC should preferable be those who are most willing to teach.

3.    In service and information concerning appropriate groupings, classroom organization, instructional strategies and curriculum modification should be provided to principals and teachers.

4.    In a MC there is respect for different learning styles. Teachers structure a positive learning environment where children feel successful, develop positive self-concepts and are helpful and sensitive to others.

5.    The student benefit from having the opportunity to stay with the same teacher and classmates and experience the same teaching style and routine over a two-year (ore more) period.

6.    In a MC there is time to recognize that a childs social and emotional needs are as important as academic needs.

7.    Another advantage of more than one year in a MC is the relationship developed between the teacher and the entire family.

8.    Students feel they are successful when they are working at their own level and know that everyone should be able to do the same thing at the same time.

9.    Each child is accepted at his or her own place on the developmental learning situation. The teacher takes time to assess evaluates and plan next steps for each child. Separate subjects are replaced by an integrated curriculum, which engages children in meaningful activities that explore concepts and topics relevant and meaningful to the lives of the children.

10.                     In a classroom where all children are learning at different rates and are not all the same age, there is a little competition.

11.                     By helping each other, students reinforce their own understanding of knowledge, skills and attitudes.

12.                     Conversations are encouraged as the children talk through their work in progress. These conversations help them understand just what they have learned.

13.                     Multigrade classrooms take the focus of meeting the needs of the whole group of learners instead meet the needs of each individual student.




Learners are taught writing skills through large and small group lessons.

These skills may be mechanics, like punctuation or capitalization, or content skills, such as using description words, develop a good beginning or closing


1.    Students write independently or with partners about anything of interest to them. They may write      stories, reports, letters, directions, rules, autobiographies, songs, poem

2.    Students write for 30-45 minutes per day.

3.    As students are writing, the teacher is conferencing with individual learners on their progress in writing.

4.    If several children are having problems in a particular area, the next days mini lesson will be on that topic.

5.    Children learn more about writing by sharing their writing.

6.    They also learn how to tell someone how to make a piece of writing better.

7.    They learn to make comments such as:

-         I liked the part in your story where you told what it was like to be in the scary house.

-         I think your story would be even better if you made that part longer and told how you felt when the door closed loudly.

8.    The classroom is usually not quiet there is buzz of activity as children ask each other for help and share their writing with their friends.

9.    They learn that it is good to share your ideas with other people and get ideas from them.

10.                     But, some children need quiet time to concentrate so there are quiet spaces or quiet times for those children who need this type of environment.





As beginning writers learn what the letters are and how to form them they usually ask how words are spelled.

At this point we spell the word for them.

However, once the child made the connection between the letters and the sound, he/she can make a fairly attempt at spelling on their own.

By the time a child is about 7 or 8 s/he is probably ready for more formal spelling.


1.    We start the week with a pre-test to see which words s/he is really going to have to think about the next 5 days.

2.    Then each day, children work with these words in some way, perhaps:

-         Alphabet zing them / using them in sentences/ adding the number of vowels to the numbers of consonants in each word.


3.    By Friday s/he is ready for the post-test, which tells us which word, they should be able to use correctly. Any misspelled word goes onto next weeks list.


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