Critical Thinking with Gifted Language Arts

Have you ever wondered if a gifted language arts curriculum could be a good fit for your homeschool even if your kids aren’t necessarily gifted? I found myself wondering the same thing recently and I’m excited to tell you what I’ve learned.

Critical Thinking with Gifted Language Arts

*I received a complimentary Autobiographies and Memoirs unit for review.
I was compensated for my time to create this post,
I wasn’t required to give a positive review.
All opinions are my own. See disclosure for details.

You see, the term gifted isn’t one I use often in our homeschool. Both of my kids have remarkable determination and have areas where they shine, but I’ve never labeled them as gifted. That alone is why I never expected to use a gifted language arts program, but here we are.

We’ve spent the last few years enjoying a Charlotte Mason approach to language arts, so you can imagine my surprise when my ten year-old son asked to dig deeper in this area.

I never dreamed a gifted language arts unit from Kendall Hunt Publishing would be exactly what he needed.

Gifted Language Arts:
Autobiographies and Memoirs

Before I share our experience, you should know a bit about the gifted language arts program we’re using. Our Autobiographies and Memoirs unit from William & Mary’s Center for Gifted Education Language Arts explores the theme of change through autobiographies and other memoirs.

In this unit, students reflect on what they already know of change and widen their understanding through selected life stories. These selections allow them to address generalizations about change such as how it can be good or bad, how change is linked to time, and how change happens naturally or as a consequence.

Critical Thinking with Gifted Language Arts - Autobiographies and Memoirs
So, why use a gifted language arts program to explore change? The William & Mary model aims to achieve these primary goals:

  • provide advanced, but age-appropriate content to satisfy precocious learners.
  • help students reason and think critically about subject matter.
  • lead students to make connections by focusing on overarching themes.

This is accomplished through Jerry Spinelli’s Knots in My Yo-yo String as the primary reading selection, as well as Roald Dahl’s Boy, and numerous short stories, essays, poems, art, and musical selections.

Critical Thinking with Gifted Language Arts - Autobiographies and Memoirs

Critical Thinking with Gifted Language Arts

After spending time in our Autobiographies and Memoirs Unit, I discovered what sets this program apart from others we’ve used: the emphasis on critical thinking.

Autobiographies and Memoirs uses several teaching models to encourage critical thinking. All of these models are outlined in detail in the teacher guide, making it easy to work alongside your kids as they process these systems.

Literature webs, vocabulary webs, and the Hamburger Model for Persuasive Writing are just a few of the models emphasized. These models are particularly helpful in regards to critical thinking because they all promote discussion and reasoning.

Critical Thinking with Gifted Language Arts - Autobiographies and Memoirs

Speaking of reasoning, my son is using these models in his personal writing projects. The Reasoning Model is his favorite because it breaks down the elements of reasoning for him. These elements are:

  • purpose
  • issue/problem
  • point of view
  • experience/data
  • concepts
  • assumptions
  • inferences

Would you believe he has found these useful for his comic book writing? I’m not sure the folks and William & Mary had that in mind, but I love that he is applying this challenging curriculum and not leaving it behind when our schoolwork is over.

The fact that he’s applying what he’s learned in his personal projects lets me know that our other resources weren’t helping him in these areas. Using a gifted curriculum isn’t just challenging him, it’s helping him outside of our homeschool.

Critical Thinking through Unique Media Sources

My son enjoyed all of the reading selections he encountered in Autobiographies and Memoirs. He loved reading Knots in My Yo-yo String and Boy so much that he never viewed them as schoolwork. It’s always good when required reading and reading for fun look the same!

There’s more to this gifted language arts program than reading, though.  If you follow along on Instagram, you may have seen us comparing and contrasting stories through music for one of the Autobiographies and Memoirs lessons.

Critical Thinking with Gifted Language Arts - Autobiographies and Memoirs
We listened to Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” and Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” and explored the backgrounds of each piece. This was an interesting lesson because both are timeless pieces of music that were written out of sorrow.

By analyzing these songs as autobiographies, he explored two pieces of music from completely different writers, styles, and points in history, but learned for himself the similarities they share.

Critical Thinking with Gifted Language Arts - Autobiographies and Memoirs
He explored other elements of critical thinking by analyzing art and poetry together. This mixture of media sources forced him to think beyond the pages of a book and look for life stories in different forms.

Get Connected with William & Mary’s
Center for Gifted Education

Interested in taking critical thinking to the next level in your homeschool? William & Mary has lots to offer through their Center for Gifted Education. In addition to the language arts program we’re loving, they offer programs for social studies and science as well.

Want to know more about William & Mary’s publisher? Visit Kendall Hunt Publishing Company and follow along on Facebook and Twitter.

Critical Thinking with Gifted Language Arts

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