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Departmentalizing across grades

Reading | Literature 


Senior Member
I know there are archives about this topic, but my principal just came to me for my opinions on departmentalizing. Since I love the ideas on PT, I thought I'd ask around:).

So, our school is small (1 class per grade) and the principal possibly wants to departmentalize next year across 3-5th grades. Currently I teach 5th, but she was thinking about me teaching reading to 3, 4, and 5th. The 3rd grade teacher would do math with all three grades, and the 4th grade teacher teach writing to all three grades. She also mentioned ability grouping. (I know this sounds radical since the ability groups would be across grade levels.) Not sure about social studies and science. Maybe the writing teacher teach that on alternating days?

Her rational is that my class did very well on the state reading test, the other teacher is strong in math, and the third in writing. I'd LOVE to only teach reading all year, but what about to three different grades??!?!

Ideas/ responses/ opinions on this?


Senior Member
When I team taught, I was teaching 3rd and my partner taught 2nd. I was in charge of Language Arts, and she did...well, everything else (as LA takes up most of the day) So I did the LA for 2nd, then switched and did it for 3rd. It was double planning, but I found that since I was only focused on one subject, it wasn't all that difficult for me. I really liked it actually!


Senior Member
We do this

but with 6, 7, 8 (middle school). I teach only ELA (reading is a separate class). I find it's great to have the same kids for the same subject for 3 years, because I really get to know their strengths and weaknesses as well as help them develop as writers. A concern I would have for such young children is having to get used to different teaching styles. In the middle school environment we are preparing them for the changes they will face in high school, but in your case, I would suggest that you all get together and work out a similar classroom management system so the kids will have similar expectations as they move from teacher to teacher.


Senior Member
I can see doing this

for 4th and 5th, but I think 3rd may be a little young to rotate teachers. We start rotating in 4th and faced some initial opposition from parents who thought their babies were too young to experience different teachers. It's worked out fine, but I think 3rd may be a bit too young.

In terms of only teaching 1 or 2 subjects, I teach Reading, Writing, and LA to 3 diff. sections of 5th grade, and as pp said, it really helps you focus on your specific subjects. I think all the kids benefit from teachers who have a real passion for the one or two things they teach.


Senior Member
last year

I (in 3rd) team taught with 4th grade. I did LA and she did science/social studies. With 3rd grade, she did a lot of reading instruction in the content areas. It worked well, the students loved it, and the third graders had no trouble switching back and forth.

We are looking at creatively departmentalizing next year; 3 teachers across 5th-8th....not sure how that will look yet...


Senior Member
We've been doing it with 4th & 5th for 3 years now. We added 3rd grade for 1 year. I taught science & social studies. The reading teacher did the language arts/writing. It works fine and you can gear your room specifically to your subjects. From that standpoint it makes planning easier because you don't have to set up for every subject. You may be doing different things with each group but at least you have the same basic materials at hand. Plus you get very good at your subject area. 3rd grade students can handle it if you structure things well and stick to your routines!