I don't know about the rest of the world but here in Regina people worry if their kids are in a split class at school. Basically, a split is one that has students of more than one grade level in the class. Personally I don't know what all of the fuss is about. I have taught straight grade classes and split grade classes and I don't find much difference except for a little bit of extra planning. In my mind all classes are split classes as the students have a range of maturity, abilities, and prior knowledge. They are at a variety of learning levels.
Here's a little story that proves my point. I am currently teaching a straight grade two class.
We talk a lot about strategies in my class. Especially in math, students are asked to share the strategies that they use to solve problems and they are eager to do so. They often provide strategies of their own that I didn't even realize that they were using. The wonderful thing about this is that they demonstrate their thinking to teach others and they provide a lot of information for me about what they know, how they are learning, and what they need to learn next. It also provides some moments that I need to stifle my urge to laugh out loud.
We were in the gym for phys. ed. and were playing a dodgeball type of game called Benchball, a favorite among kids of all ages. There are two teams of players on each side of the gym and they throw nerf balls at their opponents. When hit, players go to a bench on the opposite side at the back of the opposing team's players. If they can catch a ball from their teammates while on the bench, they free their team's benched players.
One little girl came up to me and conspiratorily told me that she had a strategy for playing the game. I was quite interested to hear her strategy, thinking that she had found a good position on the floor for hitting her opponents while they were off-guard or for keeping herself relatively out of direct hit territory. Nope, she said to me, "I try not to get hit with the ball."
Okay, same group of kids, vastly different thought processes. A University of Regina Education student doing a practicum in my classroom was teaching a nutrition lesson. She had the titles of the food groups on the board and was asking students to provide examples of each for her to list under the labels. When she got to the Bread and Cereals group, one student offered "Bread", which she listed. Another student said, "Well, cereals, I guess." Small chuckles from the class. There was pause when she asked for more examples as the obvious ones were already stated. Suddenly one boy said, "Oh, I know, And." It took a minute for it to sink in and then I started to laugh out loud.
You can't tell me that these two kids are at the same developmental level, straight grade or no straight grade!