Analysis Of Indigenous Students In Message Stick: Strong And Smart

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Despite the Australian government’s pledge to “close the gap”, many Indigenous students continue to struggle with their educational outcomes at school. The writing and language skills of Indigenous students in year 7 have been found to be behind their non-Indigenous peers by approximately 58 months and many Indigenous students continue to leave school prematurely (Australian Government, 2015, p. 5; Rose, 2011, p. 89). In ‘Message Stick: Strong and Smart’ (2003), Principal Chris Sarra has proven that it is possible to change these statistics and help Indigenous students to reach their full potential. The documentary provides many examples of effective strategies and useful resources for improving the outcomes and engagement of Indigenous and non-Indigenous
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The teacher shows the students a real avocado and discusses the characteristics of it with them. This strategy is called Shared Book Reading and is the first step in the Reading to Learn approach which requires students to learn from the top down about each part of a reading and writing activity. Firstly, the teacher explains the topic of the text and supports the students to comprehend the words and sentences as the story is read to them. Subsequently, the teacher incorporates relevant pictures, objects and activities and encourages the students to say the words as they are read. This process is repeated until students are familiar with the text (Rose, 2011, p.95 – 98). Shared Book Reading is useful for teaching literacy to students unfamiliar with books and or suffering from hearing loss as it is engaging, utilises visual tools and follows an explicit routine. However, it should be applied as just one aspect of a holistic approach to literacy education as Indigenous students are also affected by differences in cultural understanding and language (Hanlen, 2010, p. 1 – 3; Rose, 2011, p. 95 –

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