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Teaching and Learning Strategies for Multigrade Classrooms

The mlutigrade teachers have to deal with a class of students that often has a very wide range of ages and consequently of learning abilities, all together in the same room. Thus, most of the times it is not feasible for the teacher to encounter teaching of the class as a whole. Teachers should not use just the usual style of teaching that they have been trained for, i.e. teaching a single class of students in one subject at the time. The situation in the multigrade classroom is completely different, not only teachers have to teach more than one grade of students in the same classroom, but also most of the times they have to teach different subject to each grade. In order to be effective multigrade schoolteachers must utilise very good planning and develop teaching and learning strategies specially targeted for their classrooms. Above all they must be dedicated and willing to work hard to overcome the problems and the peculiarities of multigrade education. They have to be flexible and use various teaching methods (grouping, individualised instruction, independent study, team-teaching, group project work, peer tutoring etc.) according to their specific teaching needs at the time. The use of such strategies not only supports the educational work of the teachers and serves the national curriculum goals, but also represent flexible methods that encourage children to be independent and develop their personalities: they gain the skills and attitudes of "learning to learn".
The purpose of this document is to present briefly the basic teaching strategies used in most multigrade classrooms, their main characteristics and provide simple instructions on how multigrade teachers, as such participate at the MUSE project, could implement these methods in their own classroom settings. Several variations and alternations or developments on the basic teaching strategies exist and the most important of them are presented here also.
According to Collingwood's book, Multiclass Teaching in Primary Schools, a handbook that was published in 1991 by the UNESCO Office for the Pacific States, there are three main methods to use for teaching in multigrade classrooms, namely:

• Whole Class Teaching

• Group Teaching

• Self directed learning

These three basic teaching strategies are indicative as well as characteristic for the multigrade setting and can be used in combination among them or separately depending on the situation. Thus, it is equally important for the teacher not only to comprehend and know how to implement a strategy but also to know when to use these teaching methods or what strategy combination to choose.
Firstly, we will illustrate the three teaching methods separately and then there will be a discussion on their variations and combinations in different classroom situations.

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