Educators from across Kansas will descend on Lawrence this weekend to learn what's happening in multi-age classes at Riverside and New York schools.
When Donna Osness began planning a statewide meeting on multi-age grouping, she thought maybe 70 educators from across the state would attend.
As it turns out, about 235 people have registered for the Kansas Multi-Age Consortium, which will be Saturday at the Lawrence Holidome. One teacher is coming from Birmingham, Ala.
Osness is principal of Riverside School, which started multi-age grouping this fall. Three classes at Riverside combine grades one through three, and another three classes combine grades four through six.
New York School also started multi-age grouping this school year but combines grade levels in a different way.
Osness said she decided to organize the statewide meeting because of the growing interest in what Riverside was doing.
"We were getting a lot of calls from people around the state," she said. "We decided we didn't want them visiting the school during the first semester while we were still getting used to it."
Osness notified superintendents across the state about the meeting and said they could bring teachers, board members, principals and parents as well.
Deborah Ayers, principal of Hoxie Elementary School in northwest Kansas, said she's looking forward to the meeting.
Hoxie Elementary School hasn't moved fully to multi-age grouping. But teachers of kindergarten through second grade have a common planning time and often plan joint activities for their students. Similar arrangements are made for teachers of grades three and four, grades five and six, and grades seven and eight.
Ayers is bringing six teachers with her to Lawrence.
"We want to see what other schools are doing because there really aren't other schools out here doing this," she said. "We want to get some ideas."
Margie Eaton, who teaches grades four through six at New York, said eliminating the artificial grade barriers makes it easier to work with students at their ability level.
For example, she said, she's currently working with a small group of her students who need some extra help with writing dialogues. The group includes students from all three grades.
About 65 of the visiting educators will attend a social Friday evening at Riverside. All 235 educators then will meet in workshops from about 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.