Tips for Multi-Level Planning

Here’s one approach to developing a working outline that is easily adapted to multi-level teaching.

Divide a planning page into three columns with the headings Subject, Names, and Resources.

1. Column 1: List all the subjects you will cover during the year:

Reading Readiness Math Readiness Art
Reading – Phonics Math Music
Reading – Literature Science Typing
Reading Comprehension Health Bible – devotions
Spelling History Bible – history
Handwriting Geography Other (name)
Composition Physical Education

2. List subtopics or objectives under the subject. Whenever possible, choose those that several children can work on. For example, first aid would be a subtopic in science that could be studied by everyone.

3. Column 2: Next to each subtopic or subject write the name or initials of each child that will be studying in that area.

4. Column 3: Next to the names, list any books, games, field trips, software, and other resources you want to use in that subject with those children. Activities can be written out in order to have an easy reference for gathering materials or in order to remember what was already done when planning in the future. Otherwise, simply write the title and page numbers of the resource to be used. Note any connections between subjects. For example, a topic listed for a composition may be followed by (science) because it connects to that subject.

5. Outside activities can usually be assigned to a subject area, but when that is not the case, include it on your list as an additional subject in order to have a complete profile of each child’s work load.

6. The outline does not have to cover the entire year, it can be expanded as you go. Because it is a working plan, you will add to and subtract from as experience dictates. Allow yourself room to go on tangents rather than feeling bound to the plan, adding it to the list as a point of record keeping. It is not necessary to give each subject area equal time or weight, but it is important that over a period of time there is some balance.

7. If you write your outline on a computer, you can delete anything not done, add new ideas and resources as you go, and by the end of the year have a permanent record with a minimum of effort. Detailed objectives covered can be checked off within the Design-A-Study books, or on the charts included in some of the guides, with dates and initials for a permanent record. This also makes future planning easier, since you can see at a glance what has been covered and what still needs to be included.

Sample: Since I received a request for this kind of help, the following sample is written for two children—Xavier, age 5 who is able to read, and Alina, age 3, who is learning to read. Sample subtopics, objectives, and activity ideas are taken from Design-A-Study books. I did not attempt to provide a complete plan, simply a model to which other materials and ideas could be added.

Subject/subtopic Names Resources
readiness Alina (A)
  • Read aloud poetry, and stories.
  • Identify sounds (bell, knock on door…)
  • Identify basic shapes (Maximum Math)
  • (Continue by listing titles or activities)
phonics Xavier (X)
  • (List program)
comprehension A and X
  • Read aloud from various library books.
  • Critical Conditioning discussion questions and various appropriate sections.
literature A and X
  • Read folktales, fairytales, realistic fiction, etc.
  • Identify the type read.
  • Act out stories themselves and with puppets.
  • Dictate their own endings.
  • Draw pictures to go with the stories.
  • (Add other activities in Critical Conditioning.)
  • Field trips: plays, puppet shows.
composition A and X
  • Dictate own stories (literature).
  • Dictate letter to relative or friend.
  • Dictate a sequence of events just completed: cooking experience, field trip
  • Find out about an animal and dictate the information for a simple report.
  • (Continue this list with various ideas from Comprehensive Composition.)
spelling X
handwriting X
  • Write (or copy) spelling words.
  • Write (or copy) sentences for spelling words.
  • Copy a poem or letter dictated as part of literature and composition.
readiness A
grade 1-2 X
A and X
  • Play with puzzles, peg boards, parquetry boards (copying patterns), board games (Candyland), cooking experiences to measure and mix.
Science: A and X
  • In this case, the three year old is along for the ride—absorbing various experiences.
  • Trip to orchard, supplement with library books – (titles of library books)
  • Animals and habitats (see Geography)
  • Seasons – (titles of library books)
  • Fall: why leaves change colors, leaf prints (art)
Health: A and X
  • Daily care of body: brushing teeth, bathing, dressing according to weather.
  • Calendar – place symbol on the calendar for daily weather (sun, cloud, snowflake, raindrop).
  • First aid—cuts.
  • Food groups/nutrition – cooking.
  • Library books.
  • (Science Scope — list pages)
History: A and X
  • Field trips and library books: The neighborhood
  • Post office – write and send a letter. How does it travel?
  • Fire department – fire safety at home.
  • Grocery store. How does food get there?
  • Field trip to a farm.
  • Thanksgiving. (List library books, cooking activities and related art activities)
  • (Refer to Guides to History Plus to choose additional ideas and activities.)
Geography: A and X
  • Trip to the Zoo.
  • Stories of animals in their habitats: cold climate, tropical climate, desert, forest, sea, etc. Find some habitat areas on a globe.
  • (Refer to Guides to History Plus and Science Scope to add to the list.)
Physical Education: A and X
  • Jump, hop, ball catches, daily climbing at playground.
  • Skip, hopscotch, gymnastic lessons twice a week.
Art: A and X
  • Play doh: roll and form letters (reading)
  • Finger paint: shapes, letters, name (readiness)
  • Paint with large brush at easel: mix primary colors to discover secondary colors.
  • Glue dried beans and noodles for a mosaic.
  • Spatter leaf paintings. (Fall/seasons)
  • (Continue this list with a variety of activities or book titles and pages.)
Music: A and X
  • Move to music. (list record titles)
  • Imitate rhythms with instruments.
  • Learn songs with accompanying actions.
  • Piano lessons and daily 15 minute practice.
Bible: A and X
  • Read aloud Bible stories. (List titles.)
  • Listen to tapes and sing. (List titles.)
  • Memorize Scripture verses.

There are a wide variety of ways to keep records and you may find your methods changing year to year. At the very minimum it is helpful in the long run to maintain lists of books read and videos watched, field trips, outside classes (art, sports, music) and titles of resources used in every subject area, as well as samples of compositions.

Once children enter high school record-keeping needs are different. Each student needs his own record. Information about each subject should include the number of hours spent in that subject, titles of all resources used, all assigned activities and tests with accompanying grades. Outside activities should be listed with dates of participation and total hours. This information will then be used to put together a transcript and a resume. The hours are used to determine whether the subject is one credit or less (180 hours per credit). The activities and/or tests can be used to determine a grade, but should also be kept on file for future reference.

Records must be kept, but finding the method that works best for our own situation often requires some experimenting. Hopefully, some of you will be able to use this model to make your job a bit easier.