The first-second grade combined classroom is new at Dowling this year. Half of the students in the class are first-graders, and half are second-graders. Having a mixed-grade class provides more flexibility in planning specific instruction based on each student’s individual needs—all students will have more opportunities to be challenged and to learn beyond grade-level standards, as well as spend the time needed on foundational skills. This set-up also provides the older students an opportunity to act as mentors to the younger students, as well as the flip-side of that same coin—younger students have the opportunity to learn and grow from the older students!
In terms of what this will look like: much of the day will be spent together as a whole group, just as in “traditional” single-grade classes. Students will also spend time working in small-groups to allow for grade-level instruction and differentiated teaching based on each child’s needs.