As we look at developing our classrooms for next year, there are three important items we want to tell you about:
1. Class sizes – even though we have lost a number of students for next year (choosing other schools to attend), we have worked hard to keep our class sizes very manageable. At this point, our class sizes look to be similar to what they have been in the past (20-25 students each).
2. Once again, we are going to have two combined-grade classes for next year; a grade 3/4 and a grade 5/6. At Venture Heights School, we do not see combined grades as a negative. In fact, our current combined-grade class families were recently surveyed about their experience this year. Some of the comments we collected (including any negative ones) are listed below:
Grade 1 Responses:
Benefits were definitely having him around other children that were learning at a higher grade level, being exposed to a higher level of learning begins the process of learning new skills at an earlier age. Ms. Block did amazing with the children and I did not see any deficits with the split grade. I think my child almost learnt more!
I definitely saw my daughter (being in the younger grade of the split) benefiting from being with the older kids. She was striving the whole year to catch them with her reading skills and made friends with many of the older kids. I would love another split.
Miss Block has done a great job with this class! I think it is beneficial to have smaller class sizes for a combined-grade class. My child had the opportunity to be challenged in a good way that he may not have experienced in a single-grade setting. Although a split would not have been my first choice, it was a positive experience.
Some of the benefits I saw: My child excelled in subjects such as reading and math, perhaps motivated by the older class. She seemed like she grew leaps and bounds academically and personally.
Made friends from a different grade.
Variety of friends. Understanding of patience and independent learning.
Grade 2 Responses:
My son loves to teach and this gave him a great opportunity to share what he has been learning with other children who are as excited to learn as he is to teach. It’s been great to see him grow!
He was not afraid to make friends with kids younger then him. He did not feel like he was not good as other kids because they are all at different levels.
Giving of time/ serving others/ sharing talents, gifts, setting good example
Making friendships with other kids.
His reading level went up and socializing skills
Deficits: being moved to different classes when the other grade is on a field trip.
Grade 4 and 5 Responses:
The older students had an opportunity for leadership and the younger ones had an opportunity to learn and grow
Kids have good opportunity to express their ideas with younger children too.
Benefits of working both individually and in group work on your own
A leadership role and an opportunity to work independent as well as in a group. Learn how to try and figure out solutions prior to asking for help.
My son is strong at Math and I believe he was able to go farther in his learning.
My child was in grade four and when a challenge was needed some grade 5 material was presented. My child likes to be challenged and enjoyed their year. My child enjoyed it so I had no concerns about the split class.
Meet new friends My child enjoyed learning some of the grade 5 curriculum
Growth maturity hindered. More difficultly transitioning to senior end.
New friendships. One deficit was feeling a bit cut off from her peer group, especially being on the other side of the school.
3. Classrooms –because we will have less actual classes next year, we are going to be able to take advantage of some open rooms:
a. Our K-5 Music program, will be moved from the Gr3-4 wing to the Gr1-2 wing. We feel it is better for the younger kids to be closer to the Music Program.
b. Our Before and After School program will be moved to the Gr. 1-2 wing (most easterly room). That can free up our library for the morning, and also make the entrance for grade 1-2 students more consistent.
c. We are going to be able to create a “multi-purpose” room for larger scale art projects, break-out space, even a body-break room for smaller groups. Our staff is very excited about this prospect!
Ron Biberdorf, Principal
Venture Heights School