Module 1 The Middle Years Learner

1)     Defining the Middle Years

i.In a tweet length response (140 characters), describe a middle years learner.


2)     The teenage brain

i. Identify and describe three ways you will use this information in your teaching of adolescent students (1 sentence for each description).

The idea of teenage rebellion:

Within guidelines, allow and encourage students to seek alternate ways of completing tasks.

Connection to learning:

The connectivity between learning and using judgement is weak – need to help students grow the judgement capacity.

Addiction occurs in a similar part of the brain as learning

Work with students exposed to and/or using addictive substances by monitoring effects on learning and development.

3)     Stages of learning development

Note any observations you have made about middle years students and their learning development from the two tables and the video clip.

The middle years learner is adding to their early learns learning of basic academic functions with most being able to master basic addition or spell commonly used words – “That’s easy-peasy” and often challenging each other.  There is influence by the group to take on more responsibility for their own learning and this is reflected in the classroom where projects and assessments can be completed with the student choosing their own focus of study within the parameters of the project and rubric.

As students are demanding more from their education at this stage, it is also an opportunity for teachers to co-develop or guide the creation of a marking rubric so as students are aware of the expectations from the assessment and can self-assess their own work.  The dynamics of the middle years’ classroom is different to early years in that there is a growth in the formation of groups through peer relationships however this can lead to issues of bullying and exclusion adding a social level to the learning not previously seen.  The social, emotional, and academic development of the middle years’ students are dynamic and grow at a unique rate for each individual.

Students in the middle years apply their different learning strategies to approach their learning using a combination of their life experiences and previous formal education experiences.  The development of their knowledge, application of this knowledge and skills to obtain, question and critique information contributes to a more complex learner than in early years.


i. Teaching and learning strategies

The four strategies discussed in this blog are: embrace their social nature; develop growth mindsets; provide structure; take time to breathe. Do these strategies cater adequately for the learning needs of adolescents? Compile your thoughts in a PMI Chart.

Plus Minus Interesting
embrace their social nature


Develop relationships with all students


Maintain awareness of the positive and negative relationships within the classroom (and the likelihood of these to change)

The volatility of relationships within this cohort


Reliance of students to seek the support and assistance of others rather than learning for themselves.

Dynamic within small groups as to the ‘natural’ vs selected leaders.


Use of friendship groups, but also the use of in-class experts to peer mentor

develop growth mindsets; Encourage the process for the student


Greatly assists child in academic and other areas


Outcomes become a lower priority – difficult when dealing with parents seeking traditional ‘marks’


Intelligence mindset


Don’t praise Intelligence and Ability, instead praise Process and Effort

provide structure; Create a reliable and comforting environment through structure


Preparation for the structures and expectations of post-school life

Can limit creativity and individuality



Having a reliable and stable environment through structure is important, particularly if home life is busy, dynamic, hectic or even chaotic.
take time to breathe A welcoming place with a welcoming face. Whilst it detracts from mainstream curriculum requirements, it helps students ‘check-in’ with themselves. Helps control emotions and build peer-to-peer relationships – critical in this age group

List your top 10 strategies from this chapter that you can use when teaching middle years students


Develop relationships – develop and maintain positive relationships with students as individuals, students as learners, and students as part of a group.

Acknowledge differences is development rates – the rates of which students develop is beginning to spread.

Connect learning to lives – learning needs to be relevant to the students’ lives to inspire motivation and interest.

Show respect – encourage student learning through a nurturing environment and respecting differences of students.  This in turn should result in mutual respect.

Predict unpredictability – there are outside school and biological issues beyond the teachers’ control.  Understand that these can influence greatly

Use the peer factor for good – utilise the social aspect of school by designing activities for groups to enable students to explore the relationship building and dynamics within a safe, supervised environment of the class room.

Input to rules – allow students to have input into rules and expectations to encourage their ‘ownership’ of these.

Assist in time-management strategies – the transition from childhood to middle years also sees an increase in wanting independence.  With independence comes responsibility and help in using planning tools and meeting work requirements will assist this.

Keep an eye on the time – set time limits, use time warnings to increase the urgency.

Let them choose – by providing the parameters of where the students can choose the direction of their learning (i.e. the assignment topic), students take greater ownership and interest in the learning as it has personal interest.


Summarise (using dot points) your learning about how academic behaviours, academic perseverance, academic mindsets, learning strategies and social skills can impact the learning of adolescents.


  • Observable activities that reflect preparedness and engagement with education.
  • Commonly not observed (and/or irregularity with low performers)
  • Classroom behaviours can reflect the academic investment of students (i.e. engagement, motivation, completion, time on-task etc.)


  • Overcoming typical personal, organisational and motivational challenges to complete tasks
  • Difference between doing enough to pass and doing additional learning to know when and how to use the knowledge gained.
  • Sacrificing pleasures and delaying satisfactions by prioritising academic activity.


  • Positive mindsets belong to achieving students, whilst negative academic mindsets are often found in under-performing students.
  • Academic persistence is the accepting of a challenge to improve rather than an opportunity for failure
  • The sense of ‘belongingness’ to and within the classroom (socially and academically) effects confidence to attempt and complete tasks


  • The approach students have to learning opportunities to utilise the knowledge and learning tools available are key in cognition of new topics or building on existing knowledge.
  • Process of breaking-down, or ‘chunking’ learning into manageable components – the successful learner will be able to implement these within their own skill set.
  • Self-regulation to identify areas of achievement or to adopt additional strategies to develop effective and productive learning opportunities.


  • Within the classroom, social skills such as cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and self-control are important in determining a student’s real or perceived acceptance within the social group
  • Whilst social skills within a classroom are relatively difficult to measure against academic performance, the value and connectedness a student’s perception of the value of their own education (i.e. enjoying school experience as a middle to low performing student academically).
  • Social and emotional growth and development are seen as important in schools, hence a focus to implement social-emotional learning rewards the school with more socially-aware students and increased focus.


Find two other resources that will help you with your teaching of adolescents. Record them in your journal with an explanation of why you have chosen them and how they help your understanding of adolescent


Implications of Brain Research for Teaching Young Adolescents  (Wilson & Horch, 2002).

This resource discusses the physiological changes in the brains of the middle years learner, covering important findings from brain research as the child develops through to adolescence and beyond and it’s influences on a student’s learning (and therefore teaching strategies used) “Growth and then pruning is an important stage of brain development that can influence learners for the rest of their lives.” (p. 58)


Building Happiness, Resilience and Motivation in Adolescents A Positive Psychology Curriculum for Well-Being.  MacConville & Rae (2012).

This resource is based on the premise around the “importance of individuals knowing and using their strengths is central to positive psychology because they relate to understanding and building each individual’s psychological health and well-being. Greater well-being in turn enhances learning, the traditional goal of education.” (p13)

4)     Transitions

Think about the range of transitions that a middle school student is likely to encounter. Can you predict the effects of these transitions on the young person? Record your thoughts in your journal.

Students are taking a major step in their education by transitioning from primary school at the end of year 6 to secondary education.  The changes in social and structure (traditionally referred to as going from being a big fish in a small pond to a smaller fish in a bigger pond) where rights and privileges senior students in primary school are afforded may no longer be available.  Combined with the physiological changes that take place during this time, there is often conflict at this time.

To assist with the transition between primary and secondary, schools are taking on the responsibility to assist with the transition by not only directly supporting transition students but their families by providing information sessions etc.  Support from schools, and in particular, welfare specialists at the destination school are important for the induction and inclusion of students to the new environment.  Students in rural and remote locations may find transition more difficult as they are in most cases leaving smaller school populations and travelling to larger regional centres with many times more students and teachers – a potentially daunting task.  The use of realistic and relatable resources such as students visiting their former primary school and guiding visitors through the new school are just some of the transition strategies used with success.



Bongolan, R., Moir, E., & Baron, W. (Eds.). (2009). Keys to the Secondary Classroom: A Teacher’s Guide to the First Months of School. Corwin Press

Carol Dweck – A Study on Praise and Mindsets. (2016). YouTube. Retrieved from (2016).  ‘Starting Secondary School’ Retrieved from

Encouraging Students to Persist Through Challenges. (2016). YouTube. Retrieved 23 July 2016, from

Farrington, C. A., Roderick, M., Allensworth, E., Nagaoka, J., Keyes, T. S., Johnson, D. W., & Beechum, N. O. (2012). Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners: The Role of Noncognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance–A Critical Literature Review. Consortium on Chicago School Research. 1313 East 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637

MacConville, R., Rae, Tina, & Ebook Library. (2012). Building Happiness, Resilience and Motivation in Adolescents A Positive Psychology Curriculum for Well-Being.

Melcher, A (2015) ‘How To Become More Mindful In The Classroom.’  Tchers’ Voice. Retrieved from

Romero, C.  (2015). ‘Growth Mindset Made Visible’ Tchers’ Voice. Retrieved from:

Teaching Channel (2016) ‘Assess and Group’ Retrieved from:

Teaching Channel. (2016). Mindfulness in the Classroom. Retrieved from

Vierstra, G. (2015) Four Strategies To Create A Culture of Success in Middle School’ Tchers’ Voice Retrieved from:

Wilson, Lucinda M., & Horch, Hadley Wilson. (2002). Implications of Brain Research for Teaching Young Adolescents. What Research Says. Middle School Journal, 34(1), 57-61.




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