Managing combined classes

graphic organiserIt is quite hard teaching two different year levels at the same time in the same classroom. It requires all your teaching skills and then some good co operation and input from students. Many language teachers have to teach combined classes for reasons of cost effectiveness and staffing formulae so the trick is to find the things which make it a pleasure for you and your students. This year I have 9 year 11 students and 11 year 12 students in the same class and a high level of co operation. The courses are quite different as are the time frames. So this year I need to really think this out and make it work as I literally haven’t done it for years. Before it was easy because the courses were similar and so I could adjust requirements for the lower level. I started off by teaching one class for half the lesson and then the other class for the other half a lesson. The class I am not teaching then needs work they can do purposefully alone. I have used little texts, small videos, podcasts and questionnaires. That has been quite good but not really engaging as such. So today I went to my graphic organisers and printed up 2x A3 versions of a concept web. The lower level has been working on La neige. We are working up to a piece written by Théophile Gautier – La première neige. They have watched little videos, slide shows, we have built vocabulary up around la neige. Today I said they were working in petites équipes – petits groupes and they would work on the concept web for La Neige together and then type it up onto their electronic version. That would reinforce their learning. Then with the older group I could get on with the slide presentation on agriculture biologique because we are doing La Cuisine. The year 11s threw themselves into their concept webs and were talking it through quietly and then there was silence as they typed it up. My year 12s and I got through the tough piece on agriculture biologique and they were very focussed. Somehow my plan had really lifted the game and we were all working hard for the entire 40 minutes of our lesson. At the end I looked at the concept webs my year 11s had done and was thrilled with their efforts on their champ lexical. I asked them how they felt. They all said it was much better that way. I could see the pride on their faces and the feeling of a job well done. That is what we all need. I need to keep working on this. Tomorrow I have a double lesson and will see how that goes with our petites équipes, our whole year level work and then some one to one. As teachers we need to share how we manage combined year levels. We’ll struggle less and come up with some good plans!

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