Inclusive Education for Students with Learning Disabilities

Today’s classroom is promoted to be an inclusive cross-section of intelligences. We as teachers should expect to have as many as five different AusVELS levels in a single class. How can a teacher effectively teach to such a wide range of abilities? From my experience teaching at a school for students with mild intellectual difficulties, as well as my PhD research, I have found that a games-based context provides a familiar and engaging foundation from which a variety of extension activities can be based.

A games-based context does not necessarily mean just playing games in the classroom (though some of that can happen). It is about providing a concrete and exciting place to start a topic such as creative writing. Many games have narratives that explain the game’s goal (e.g. ‘save the princess’). I use that story, setting, and characters as a way to excite students to write a similar story. Depending on the student’s ability, the task can be extended in a variety of ways. For students with a lower ability, they can simply write what they know about the game (which might be a lot!).

No doubt you have a heard the phrase: ‘teach to the middle’. This is an unfortunate reality in many classrooms; one that disengages brighter students and leaves behind those who are struggling. I argue that through using a games-based context to teach literacy, you can create a lesson that caters to the lower students, while providing rich extension activities for higher ability students.


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