Volume 14, Number 1
An Age-Old Grouping Method Is Still Evolving
Seven years ago, when Connie Chene took over as principal of the Puesta Del Sol Elementary School in Rio Rancho, NM, she issued this challenge to her teachers: If they had any ideas about how to do things differently to benefit kids, all they had to do was talk to her. This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.
Located just outside Albuquerque in one of the state's fastest growing cities, Puesta Del Sol had a not-so-progressive classroom arrangement. All special education students were taught outside the school in portable buildings; all regular education students were taught inside the main building. Chene was immediately besieged by proposals from regular and special education teachers who wanted to combine their students. Teachers knocked down walls between rooms, more proposals came in, and Chene now presides over a smorgasbord of classrooms: both single grades and mixed ages in both regular and inclusion classrooms, including one inclusion class that spans kindergarten through the 3rd grade.
"Teachers began to see the power of kids with different abilities and different points of view working together in the classroom," says Chene. "They began to buy into the idea that society is multi-age, families are multi-age, and we wanted the classrooms to reflect real life."