Supporting students with difficulties in learning

Students may experience difficulties in literacy and numeracy for a variety of reasons. These difficulties may vary in nature, intensity and duration. Effective planning and programming therefore requires a response to individual characteristics and learner histories. Evidence demonstrates that individualised planning combined with a carefully structured and explicit teaching approach provides the most effective support for students with learning difficulties. This is especially true in the early stages of learning and when learning new skills. For these students their learning needs can be further supported by collaborative engagement with their parents/carers.

By using the teaching strategies in this section and other strategies in the resource which teach skills and strategies explicitly, teachers can provide students with effective instructional support to develop their skills and achieve syllabus outcomes.

Instruction for students with difficulties in learning requires teachers to:

  • explicitly teach skills and strategies rather than relying on incidental learning
  • teach small amounts of material and emphasise key points to address problems with attention
  • teach to mastery and provide cumulative review of skills previously mastered to aid memory
  • teach the academic vocabulary required for each task to support language development
  • teach skills in various contexts to assist students to generalise their knowledge

Some individuals or groups of students may also require additional support to ensure their full participation in learning activities.

Students with a sensory impairment or disability

Teachers of students with a sensory impairment or disability who meet guidelines for additional support will have access to a support teacher. The support teacher can advise and assist in selecting and implementing teaching adjustments to enhance a student's curriculum access. Individualised adjustments will be supported by provision of the following general adjustments.

For students with low vision, it is important to:

  • present written material in the appropriate print size, including all worksheets and material recorded on the board/charts
  • verbalise all written information, for example information in wall charts, spelling lists, brainstorming activities
  • provide the student with on-desk copies of any overheads.

For students using Braille, it is important to:

  • verbalise all written information, for example information in wall charts, spelling lists, brainstorming
  • allow the student to record brainstorm information in Braille
  • present worksheets and activities in Braille and tactile format
  • provide access to a Braille or auditory dictionary.

For students with a hearing impairment, it is important to:

  • ensure the student is seated appropriately within the class to participate in the activity
  • ensure the teacher is correctly located to optimise the student's chance for oral/aural interpretation
  • ensure sufficient emphasis is given to the development of vocabulary through explicit explanations and use of similes.

For students with a physical disability, it is important to:

  • ensure the environment is accessible for the student
  • ensure the student has a height-adjustable table/desk
  • provide access to a scribe if required
  • provide access to the appropriate technology.

For students with a reading difficulty, it is important to:

  • provide the student with access to every text used in the class program. This can include:
  • reading text to students
  • providing text on CD or MP3 or computer using text reading software.
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