One day last spring my husband got sick. This rarely happens, but when it does, we usually cover for each other. So it was that I had the orange room (eleven third through sixth graders) in the red room with the seventh through eleventh graders. And it was time for our Anabaptist history class.
We are reading and answering study questions on the book “Fire in the Zurich Hills”. That is a fabulous book. So several members of the younger class chose to join our Anabaptist history class while others finished up their work or their 3D popsicle sculptures we’ve been working on.
I began asking questions. I try to look around and give everyone a chance to answer, so I call on anyone whose hand goes up. And a third grader's hand went up, and he answered -- correctly I might add. He remembered what was going to happen to Felix Manz even before we got to that part of the story. You see, we had studied Anabaptist history several months ago in the younger grades, and he remembered.
That is what is so wonderful about a one-room schoolhouse type concept IF it is done correctly and well. The students are constantly getting a review and a preview. Yes, they have quiet study and do-your-work times, but when all their work is completed, they are still learning. In this type of environment we find that there is often something going on to interest the students, and they have opportunities to listen, watch, and sometimes participate in classes that are above and beyond their normal grade level. They grow academically, and their relationships are strengthened with other students younger and older than they are. The older ones encourage the younger ones, and everyone is accepted and valued. That is a good place to be.