Each year, Ashwood’s grade school teachers consider whether or not to include a “block swap” in their calendar. Will it be of benefit to the students? To the school? In the past several years, the answer has been a solid “yes.” So, once again, this year, we will have a block swap from Monday, January 28 through Friday, February 15, in which our tightly-knit multi-age classes “unzip” themselves, temporarily joining classes above or below them for a three week block focussing on math skills. Following main lesson the classes return to their normal configurations for the remainder of the day.
Why do we swap? The purpose of the block swap, according to Class 2-3 teacher Michelle Buczacz, is “to build social connections with neighboring grades as well as to give the children in the older grades of our multi-age classes the experience of being the younger group and vice versa.” Additionally, the older grade in each temporary grouping has the opportunity to review and practice essential skills while the younger group has the help of the older half as they encounter new material.
So, where, oh where, will they be, and what, oh what, will they all be doing? Mr. Clough and the 7th grade will go it alone on a journey through algebra. (Equations, variables, and coefficients…Oh, my!) Joining Mr. Kaczor and his 5th grade, the 6th will study metric measurement and decimals. They’ll be tasked with “designing ‘tiny houses,'” says Mr. Kaczor, “with some emphasis on the business aspects of budgeting and design.” Meanwhile, 4th grade will join with 3rd grade and Ms. Buczacz for a hands-on block on measurement. For First Grade and Class 2-3, the morning will begin with the usual happy circle time together. Following this Grade 2 will go to Ms. Doshi’s classroom, joining First Grade for a block on the four marvelous math functions: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.