Walk into a traditional elementary school in the U.S.A. and you’ll likely encounter a 1st grade hall, a 2nd grade hall, a 3rd grade hall…you get the idea. Students sorted by grades and, it follows, by age. But why? Historically, were grade level corridors more efficient? Was there a research base that testified to the validity of this model? Or has an American educational system handed this structure down, merely because “this is the way we’ve always done things”?
In May 2017, a group of innovative-thinking 2nd grade teachers at Hoosier Road Elementary (all housed in the 2nd grade hallway, btw) wanted to build connections among students to foster caring and learning together. What new approach, these colleagues wondered, might be more conducive to the type of learning community they envisioned?
In August 2017, The Village was born. The prior second grade hall is now a multi-age learning community, composed of one classroom for each grade level. Enacting this vision meant that several of these former 2nd grade teachers are now teaching new grades – a bit challenging, but totally worth it, the colleagues say. In The Village, students still spend time primarily with their grade level teachers, but time each day is reserved for cross-classroom activities. And Village classrooms all share a common lunch/recess period.
From the teachers:
In talking with Village teachers and students recently, it was clear that this cross-age experiment has been a success. Students work together on projects, share study trips, and learn together. The children have made new friends, and look out for one another. The Village has indeed grown into the authentic learning community envisioned by the teachers.
The scrolling Sway presentation below (and linked HERE) was created by the five teachers, Mrs. Sergi (K), Mrs Gue (1), Mrs Loftus (2), Mrs. Ceglio (3), and Mrs. May (4), to highlight some of the many collaborative experiences that Village teachers and students have shared throughout the year. Enjoy!