FAQ for the 4/5 Blend
What is the ratio of Fourth Graders to Fifth graders?
At this time the 4th to 5th grade ratio is projected to be 15 to 13 . Best practices from mixed age research places a high importance on maintaining a near 50/50 ratio with mixed age children. This helps to establish a truly heterogeneous grouping of students (academically) similar to the practice we use in single-grade classrooms.
What is the criteria for choosing the 4th and/or 5th graders?
There is no criterion specifically different for choosing students for the blend than there is for choosing students for a single grade classroom. The criteria for all student placement is created for ensuring a basic heterogeneous group of students based on gender, varying achievement levels, behavioral characteristics, leadership, special needs, support services, student combinations, ethnic groups, parent information, staff, and principal input.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of the blend for learning?
There are pros to blended classrooms, just as there are pros to single-grade classrooms. The first and foremost positive aspect is the increased ability children in mixed age classrooms have for learning in varied groups. In any classroom, mixed or straight grades, you have varying levels of understanding. This is true for a single 4th or single 5th grade or a 4/5 blended classroom. The greatest effect on the continuum of student knowledge is not in the difference from the polar ends but in the varied points along the continuum. That is to say that students are more likely to learn from a greater range of experiences as students learn best in a community of learners who can bring their different strengths in different areas to the table.
Having been a principal of a school with 4th/5th grade classrooms I do not believe there are disadvantages, for students in either of the grades as long as the classroom is set up carefully, with an effective teacher and an A/B curriculum cycle is implemented for two years (see next question).
Much of the research states that academic results do not seem to differ with any substantive significance in any academic area. The academic impact tends to be similar in both academic models; students in multi-grade (blended) classes do not appear to learn more or less than their peers in single-grade classes. Without trying to overstate the benefits and effects of a blended class, research and review of literature on the topic states that students in blended classes tend to score as well or higher on attitudes toward school, personal adjustment, and self-concept than students in the single-age classes, although the differences are rather small.
How is curriculum altered?
Curriculum falls into two basic categories. Math and Language Arts (reading/writing) are essentially concept curriculums. Science and Social Studies are essential content curriculums. That is to say, students learn the same concepts in math and reading at all elementary grades (at different and deeper levels): grammar construction, reading comprehension, geometry, numeration, etc. Science and social studies are based on content (life science, earth science, Oregon history, US history, etc.). With that understood, the instruction of reading and writing is not all that different in a 4/5 then it is in a single grade classroom. The same skills and strategies are covered. The teacher uses a variety of groups from needed skill building groups, to like grade, to whole and small groups, working on the abilities of each individual child. WE have not yet decided how we will approach math instruction. There are several models out there that range from teaching the blended classroom together by providing whole group instruction in relation to a concept (i.e. fractions) and then providing small group instruction and grade level practice activities or by providing a walk to math model in which students are grouped after each unit test and then assigned to a cohort with students at similar instructional levels.
We will utilize an A/B curriculum cycle. Fourth grade science and social studies content would be considered cycle A. Fifth grade content would be considered B. As mixed grade classrooms are formed, most often we begin on the B cycle to ensure the oldest kids receive the oldest grade content. The youngest students in the initial cohort will then receive the A cycle content curriculum the following year. Since we cannot predict our program model for next year, ALL 4th and 5th grade students will be on a B cycle (5th grade content for social studies and science for the 2017-18 school year. During the 2018-19 school year, all 4th and 5th grade students will be on an A cycle (4th grade content for social studies and science). Please ask any further questions of me that will help clarify this.
Is the class size smaller than the other 4th or 5th grade classes?
At this point, yes, but not significantly. The mixed age classroom will have approximately 28 students. The 4th grade and 5th grade classrooms will have approximately 31. If any new 4th or 5th grade students are enrolled, no more than one or two will enter the mixed age, capping this classroom at 30 if at all possible.
How does a blended classroom support or hinder TAG students?
TAG is handled no differently in a blended grade classroom then it is in a single grade classroom. The teacher will review the student’s TAG information to understand where s/he has demonstrated his/her gifted skills. In the fall, teachers assess students on many levels in math and reading and continues to do so throughout the year. The teacher then prepares lessons and plans extended learning opportunities, if appropriate, to ensure the students’ rate and level of learning are maximized. Students identified TAG will continued to be clustered in classrooms with other TAG students and high achievers.
How does a blended classroom work to an advantage for a TAG student?
The number one advantage documented time and time again with gifted students (or high level learners) is that they learn extremely well in mixed ability academic settings. Some educators contribute this to the “learner as teacher” phenomena. This is not to mean that high level learners (or 5th grade TAG students in this case) will play a teaching role in a blended classroom. Rather that gifted students more often than not take on leadership roles in classroom setting. This is heightened in a blended classroom. During lessons and group work where students naturally have conversations that explore the concepts at hand, students learn from one another. Moreover, exploring a concept individually, we learn a concept to a certain depth of understanding. When one explores new information while sharing, teaching, and conversing with others about their exploration, the depth of understanding is greatly enhanced. This is seen in every classroom at every level and well into adulthood. Research shows that these effects are greater in blended classrooms.
Will the 5th graders assigned to the blended classroom be prepared for middle school?
Of course. Regardless of the student’s grade level they will be prepared for their next grade. The blended classroom will be structured with much of what has been utilized by the 5h grade teachers to prepare students with the necessary organization & study skills needed for middle school. However, as in any classroom there will be students who excel and those who need additional supports and encouragement to succeed. Mrs. Jeppesen will continue to be an active member of the 5th grade team. In addition the 4th and 5th grade teachers will be a collaborative cohort next year; working together as they implement the new reading adoption and prepare/teach the 5th grade science and social studies concepts.
What can I do to support a blended classroom?
First and foremost, remember that our words and tone of voice have a profound effect on children. Our shared perceptions carry a great deal of weight with our children. Our words and actions convey our assumptions and expectations, which, in turn, influence children’s’ assumptions and expectations about situations. If we approach something with a great deal of worry or apprehension, our children will often sense that from us and then assume a similar frame of mind. If we make positive or negative statements about either grade configuration our children’s words and actions are likely to mirror ours. Regardless of what grade level configuration you believe to be best, we support our students and each other by remaining positive and looking at this as a wonderful opportunity for all students.
Dear Glencoe Families,
Wow, we are in the month of May? I am hoping that the saying “April showers bring May flowers” is true and our rain subsides. I am ready for some Portland sunshine!
Last week our 3rd grade students held two performances of the play, “Portland”. Once during the day for our students and then one in the evening for families. The students, with guidance from their teachers, support from their parents, and leadership from Ralph Nelson, put on a great performance. Arts opportunities like “Portland” and others such as the Native American Story telling residency in 4th grade, musical puppet theatre, Red Yarn in 1st grade, the Oregon Ballet Theatre in Kindergarten and our upcoming Historical Wax Theatre in 5th grade are all made possible by our annual Run for the Arts fundraiser. We also use the funds for Art Infusion and musical instruments/supplies. Please encourage your children to get their pledges and run their little hearts out!
Let’s keep our fingers crossed that we have a fairly dry week; or at least a dry Friday since our run is now scheduled for Friday, May 5th. Bark chips are being delivered on Tuesday, May 2nd to help with the muddy path. If you are available to help spread the chips our RFTA coordinators would really appreciate it. Volunteers will be meeting on Tuesday at 3:30 in the back of the school.
As I shared in last month’s newsletter, Glencoe will be one of the next ten elementary schools adopting the new English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum next year. We will receive new assessment and curriculum materials to support the effective implementation of a reading workshop in each classroom. The district will be providing us with a substantial amount of books for teaching lessons and some for small guidance reading lessons. I would also like to give students a great deal of choice and agency within the reading workshop by building up our classroom libraries. Glencoe’s teachers have done an amazing job developing their own collections of student books for their classrooms by using their own money. As a school community, I would love to gift them with even more books for their libraries. As you have read from the PTA we are asking for gift cards (Powells Books or Amazon) or a donation to support our classroom libraries during the week of Teacher Appreciations. In addition to this I am hoping we can have our own, school book drive, like we do for the Harvest Festival. Starting on Tuesday, May 2nd, there will be a “book bin” in the main hallway to collect donations for Glencoe’s classroom libraries. Feel free to donate gently used or new books that we can put into our classrooms for student use. Any books that we do not utilize for our classroom libraries will be saved for the Harvest Festival bookroom (so all books will benefit our students).
As you know, this week is Staff Appreciation week; a dedicated time to honor and celebrate all the work our staff does each and every day. The job is so much more than what you see; the discrete instructional decisions a teacher makes to challenge a student, the overt encouragement they provide to the discouraged learner, the sleepless nights they have ruminating on past decisions and future lessons. Everyone in our school has a role in educating our children; teachers, custodians, educational assistants, secretaries, cooks – EVERYONE. I feel very fortunate to work at Glencoe with a dedicated group of individuals who make an honest effort each and every day to make a difference in the lives of children. I am glad we take the time to appreciate those that are so well-deserved!
At the end of every school year, the
School-family Partnership program sponsors Student Recognition Award ceremonies
for successful students across the district. These award ceremonies are
essential to honor and reward students whose achievements represent the best of
PPS, and to inspire their fellow students in the coming school year. We’re
excited to celebrate these students and are looking forward to sharing their
stories with you.
Please congratulate all who participated. They all were fantastic and made Benson Tech proud!
Hello PPS families and staff,
On April 4 I presented my proposed budget for the 2017-18 school year to our School Board. I want to make sure you know what our spending priorities are, and what they will mean for you and your PPS student or students.
This is a budget of difficult choices. We made extra cuts to central administration to prioritize direct services for students, but we still must make some painful cuts to our schools. Although the cuts will affect each school differently, they will be noticeable. This proposed budget is the first step in a long process, and we will be seeking your input and engagement as we manage this difficult fiscal climate.
CORRECTION: 2nd budget listening session is Tuesday, April 25
We want to hear from you about the 2017-18 budget for PPS! The Portland School Board has scheduled three listening sessions to take your comments on how we should allocate our dollars in the coming year.
8:00 AM - 9:00 AM Spirit Day
2:20 PM - 2:45 PM Popcorn Friday
9:30 AM - 12:30 PM Oster/Schiada FT Zenger Farm
8:30 AM - 9:30 AM Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast
8:15 AM - 2:00 PM Roddis FT Downtown
9:00 AM - 10:00 AM Storybook Parade
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM Father-Daughter Dance
9:30 AM - 1:30 PM Williams FT Downtown
9:30 AM - 1:30 PM Button FT Downtown
8:30 AM - 2:00 PM Richards FT Downtown