Narrowing the gap in the regular classroom: successful strategies for teaching and learning in the middle school years
Bellert, A 2008, 'Narrowing the gap in the regular classroom: successful strategies for teaching and learning in the middle school years', in L. Graham (ed.), Proceedings of the Narrowing the Gap: Addressing Educational Disadvantage Conference, Armidale, NSW 26-28 April, University of New England, Armidale, NSW, ISBN: 9781921597015.
This paper focuses on the educational disadvantage experienced by middle years’ students with learning difficulties. It has a specific focus on those students living in regional, rural and remote areas of Australia. Students in the middle school years who experience challenges with learning are repeatedly disadvantaged, yet the planned efforts of a reflective, well informed teacher can make a great contribution to overcoming obstacles to successful learning encountered by these vulnerable students. The paper begins with a review of the concept of learning difficulties in a contemporary context and then goes on to identify obstacles to effective learning commonly experienced by middle years’ students with learning difficulties. After a brief examination of these issues in the context of regional, rural and remote areas of Australia, the information is then synthesised into proactive frameworks forteachers, which link the factors of disadvantage with strategies for overcoming or ‘working around’ these cognitive obstacles. Based on the understanding that teachers have great potential for ‘narrowing the gap’ in performance and participation of students with learning difficulties, the frameworks describe evidence-based adjustments to teaching and learning in literacy, basic mathematics and content area learning, that can be readily implemented in a range of teaching and learning contexts.