Interdisciplinary Studies Language Arts



Fall 2007 Interdisciplinary Studies Language Arts


Language Arts—the foundation for everything else. I was a history and geography teacher, but I knew that without language arts expertise, my students would not be able to excel in my classes either. In fact, I often teamed with a language arts colleague in order to plan interdisciplinary activities.
Many gifted learners are already proficient in language arts; however, there are subgroups within the larger pool that face serious disadvantages in language arts.


We look at two of those groups in our feature articles. We begin with Saundra Sparling’s piece, “Black English and Academic Excellence: Emerging Practices for Student Success.” She first discusses why it is that Black students insist on using Black English even when they recognize that it hinders their academic success. She then shares recent research showing successful use of Black English as a bridge to mastery of Standard English.


Another disadvantaged group is that of English Language Learners—particularly Hispanic students who come to school speaking Spanish. Crucial to their advancement is learning to read English fluently so they can understand and master all the disciplines. Katie Pedersen shares specific strategies she uses in her elementary classes in San Diego in her article, “Reading Support for Gifted English Language Learners.”  Michael Clay Thompson provides a thought provoking article, “Poetry or Prose: A False Dichotomy.” When I think back to my own early experiences with poetry, what comes immediately to mind is the first line of Joyce Kilmer’s, “I think that I shall never see, a poem as lovely as a tree.” It took place in my second grade classroom and was part of a larger unit on trees. I
truly cannot remember any other specific incident of the study of poetry throughout my elementary years.
Thompson argues that it is imperative to teach poetry and poetics co-jointly with teaching prose. He states, “Great prose writers tend, profoundly, to be both readers and writers of poetry as well, and they consistently employ poetic device in the sentences of their novels.” And he makes his case with a
lively array of examples from authors including Charlotte Bronte, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Thomas Hardy, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Toni Morrison.


Elizabeth Meckstroth and Kathi Kearney employ a provocative title to bring our attention to another language arts concern in their article, “Indecent Exposure: Does the Media Exploit Highly Gifted Learners?” In it they identify the vulnerability of highly gifted children and provide guidelines for

parents and teachers when considering exposing these gifted learners to the media. In the final feature article we share an autobiographical account of a young immigrant from Spain, Michael
Cárdenas, who learned English in a southern California school where several cultures meshed. He learned early the significance of understanding different cultures and this knowledge later aided in his success in business as an adult. Recognizing that the modern world values global knowledge
even more than before, he developed a non-profit Web site where teachers and students can communicate with others to gain greater knowledge of other cultures.


This issue also includes a number of reference-type inserts that we hope will be useful to busy teachers and parents. Thanks to Hall Davidson who graciously permitted us to print his “Copyright and Fair Use Guidelines for Teachers.” Thanks also to the National Association for Gifted Children for the Compass Points article, “Encouraging Students to Publish,” and also Elaine Wiener for preparing a quick reference sidebar on poetics terminology. To encourage students to publish their work as a way to assure an “authentic audience,” the Hands-On Curriculum column is devoted to this topic as well, including specific guidelines for carrying out the entire process of writing and publishing in the classroom.

In the Book Reviews section, please note the “Review and Tribute” to Annemarie Roeper on the publication of, The “I” of the Beholder,” by Jim Delisle. We hope the school year has started off well for all our readers. The Winter issue will focus on serving young gifted learners, Pre-K–2; it should reach you just after the winter holidays.

—Margaret Gosfield, Editor