Language Arts Curriculum

for High Ability Learners

Denver Public Schools
Denver, CO
June 6, 2011
Overview Session
Presented by
Dr. Kimberley L. Chandler
Curriculum Director
Center for Gifted Education
The College of William and Mary

Curriculum Framework
Constructing Meaning Through Literature
Learner Needs
The Integrated Curriculum Model

Learner Characteristics and Corresponding Emphases in the Curriculum

(Advanced development in some
curricular area)
(Capacity to focus and
concentrate for long periods of time)
(Can engage in high level
and abstract thinking)
Language Arts Curriculum Framework
Language Arts Curriculum Goals
To develop analytical and interpretive skills in literature
To develop persuasive writing skills
To develop linguistic competency
To develop listening/oral communication skills
To develop reasoning skills in LA
To understand the concept of change in the LA

Language Arts Units
Beyond Words (gr. 1-2)
Journeys and Destinations (gr. 2-3)
Literary Reflections (gr. 4-5)
Patterns of Change (gr. 4-6)
Autobiographies and Memoirs (gr. 5-6)
Persuasion (gr. 6-7)
The 1940s: A Decade of Change (gr. 7-9)
Utopia: Man’s Changing Ideas of the Ideal (gr. 7-9)
Threads of Change in 19th Century American Literature (gr. 8-10)
Change Through Choices (gr. 10-12)


LA Teaching Models
Concept Development Model
Literature Web
Hamburger Model
Dagwood Model
Reasoning Model
Research Model
Vocabulary Web
Assessment of Learning Outcomes
Pre- and post-assessments for literary analysis and interpretation, persuasive writing, and grammar
Portfolio of writing assignments, literature and vocabulary webs, other work
Research project and oral presentation
Response journal
Unit evaluation
Grading Considerations

Portfolio materials (persuasive writing; literary analysis)
Research project and oral presentation
Response journal
Major Findings - Language Arts
Significant and important treatment effects for literary analysis and interpretation and for persuasive writing
No significant gender effects
Student performance showed that additional attention was needed to enhance higher-level thinking and elaboration skills.
Students were able to improve significantly after unit instruction regardless of the grouping model employed.
Students enhanced their learning each time they were exposed to the units and maintained their level of achievement between interventions across the years.
Constructing Meaning

Through Literature
Criteria for Selecting Unit Literature
Challenging for high-ability learners
Appropriate multicultural literature
Concept of change
Criteria for Selecting Literature for Gifted Readers
Rich, varied, precise, complex, exciting language
Open-ended, with capacity to inspire contemplative behavior
Complex, leading to interpretive and evaluative behaviors
Help build problem-solving skills
Role models
Broad-based in form
Baskin & Harris, 1980

Considerations for Multicultural Literature
General accuracy
Avoidance of stereotypes
Authentic, up-to-date, age-appropriate language
Attention to author’s perspective
Currency of facts and interpretations
Concept of audience
Integration of cultural information
Balance and multidimensionality
Accurate and appropriate illustrations
-- Miller-Lachman, 1992
Literature Web - Full Form
Literature Web
Key Words: What were some words and phrases that were especially interesting or important? What words were new to you?
Feelings: What feelings did you get reading the passage? What feelings did the characters have? How were those feelings expressed?
Ideas: What was the main idea? What other major ideas and concepts were important? What was the author trying to say about those ideas?
Images/Symbols: How did the author use description and imagery in the novel? What sensory images came to your mind? How did the author use symbols?
Structure: What type of writing was this? What literary and style elements did the author use? How did the structure of the writing contribute to the meaning of the novel? May identify such features as: use of unusual time sequence in narrative, use of voice, use of figurative language, etc.


Grandmother Moon
Each day is a journey,

a leaving home,

over paths that wind

between rocks and bog.

Behind each rock

is a shadow;

behind each shadow,

a flower,

or a wellspring,

or a trembling rabbit,

or an unfolding fern
Building Textual Understanding
Underlying Assumption: Discourse that promotes
understanding needs direction, focus, and movement towards
Marking (focusing)
Revoicing (repeating student ideas)
Turning back (textual or student-based)
Recapping (synthesizing)
Modeling (thinking aloud)
Annotating (providing information)
Beck & McKeown, 1996

Follow-Up Questions
What is a journey? What words or phrases can you use to describe a journey?
How is a journey like a day? What important characteristics of a day is the poet trying to emphasize by calling a day a journey? How are a day and a journey different?
What does the poet mean by the words “as day unrolls itself along the road toward night”?
How is traveling, or movement in a place or space, like living in time?
Assessment for Literary Analysis

and Interpretation
Short reading selection (poem, short story, fable, essay)

Four short-answer questions assess analysis and interpretation through focus on main idea/central theme (2 questions), quote analysis, and explication of connection to unit concept.

Rubric rates responses on 0-8 scale per question, for total possible score of 32 points.

Pre- and post-assessments are drawn from same genre.
Resource Book
Online Resources
Poetry and Literature Center of the Library of Congress:

Academy of American Poets:

Glossary of Poetic Terms:

Glossary of Literary Terms:

Kendall/Hunt Publishing

Contact Information
Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company
4050 Westmark Drive
Dubuque, IA 52004-1840

Contact Information
Dr. Kimberley L. Chandler
Center for Gifted Education
The College of William and Mary
P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795