Differences in culture or language can lead to misperceptions and communication gaps among students and between students and teachers. As a result, lack of preparation in teachers can limit their ability to provide culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse (CLED) gifted students effective instruction that will benefit their academic success. Schools serving CLED gifted students must adopt culturally responsive teaching approaches in addition to the gifted curriculum within the school. According to Gay (2002), “Culturally responsive teaching connects students’ cultural knowledge, prior experiences, and performance styles to academic knowledge and intellectual tools in ways that legitimize what students already know.”
CLED students may not have had experiences and exposure to stimulating cognitive activities that help build the language structure necessary for later academic success. Classroom studies and educator interviews indicate that students make greater improvement in reading comprehension when teachers combine instructional engagement approaches with students’ cultural and linguistic knowledge. The curriculum and classroom environment should “honor and reflect the lives of the students” (Kaplan 2019).
Other characteristics of culturally responsive teaching include the following:
- Engaging in conversation with parents through in-person, email, and newsletters to understand parents' needs and desires for the education of their children, inform them of school happenings, and to understand cultural backgrounds.
- Having consistent communication of high student expectations.
- Learning with cultural context so students have lessons and activities presented in ways that are familiar to them. Teachers should also acknowledge that cultural differences exist and are embraced in the classroom so all students are able to maximize learning.
- Ensuring student-centered instruction to enable students to direct their own learning. Opportunities are provided for students to work on culturally and socially relevant assignments/projects.
- Offering culturally relevant instruction that includes diverse ways of knowing, understanding, and doing that encourages multiple viewpoints. Educational environments should embrace and encourage students to share cultural knowledge, beliefs, and actions.
- Providing integrated, meaningful, and student-centered curriculum that relates to issues and topics of the students’ various backgrounds and cultures.
- Assuring teacher familiarity with his/her students’ backgrounds and who can use that information to better help students develop knowledge and skills, and facilitate the transfer of that knowledge in meaningful ways. Encourage students to share cultural information such as traditions and artifacts. Invite members of the community to speak to the class or deliver a lesson.
Carol Ann Tomlinson developed The Equalizer to assist teachers in differentiation content, process, and/or product for students. By sliding a lever on any number of continuums, anything can be differentiated based on students' readiness, interest or learning profile. In their book Differentiation and the Brain: How Neuroscience Supports the Learner-Friendly Classroom (2nd edition), Sousa and Tomlinson recreate a table illustrating cultural tendencies and beliefs that may influence a student’s learning. Just like the Equalizer, any one of these levers may slide in one direction or the other to modify instruction or activities based on a student’s cultural background.
Dr. Donna Ford has created a gifted cultural education model based on Bloom’s Taxonomy and James Banks’ levels of integrating multicultural content; contributions, additive; transformation, and social action.
Continua of Cultural Tendencies and Beliefs
Table illustrating cultural tendencies and beliefs that may influence a student’s learning.
Gifted cultural education model
Dr. Donna Ford has created a gifted cultural education model based on Bloom’s Taxonomy and James Banks’ levels of integrating multicultural content; contributions, additive; transformation, and social action. Dr. Ford’s matrix contains multiple pathways in which educators can develop curriculum that will affect students culturally and cognitively. The rows contain components of James Banks' Levels of Integration whereas the columns contain Bloom’s Taxonomy.
Levels of Integration
James Banks' article on the levels of integrating multicultural content; contributions, additive; transformation, and social action.
Culturally responsive instructional scaffolding involves teacher assistance with difficult tasks or use of cultural and linguistic backgrounds in order to promote high-level learning. These strategies should also be employed for culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse (CLED) gifted students as part of gifted services. Scaffolding skills involve the following:
- Using different types of open-ended questions
- Providing sufficient wait time
- Including references to students’ primary languages or cultures during classroom instruction
- Engaging in problem solving activities that allow student to be culturally responsive
- Supplementing the textbook with additional resources to better reflect students’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds
- Developing a curriculum that provides students with culturally responsive learning opportunities based on student-centered instruction, student choice, and student interest
Identifying and Supporting Gifted ELLs
A framework to locating gifted English learners by Edutopia author Louise Yaafouri.
Promoting Academic Literacy by Building the Verbal Intelligence among Secondary English Language Learners.
A synthesis of research, challenges, and best practices in the education of secondary English Learners (ELs) from UC Davis.
Over the years, research on children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds has shown that these students enter school with a weak literacy foundation, especially in vocabulary, reading, and oral language. Students with high nonverbal intelligence can harness their ability to improve their verbal intelligence by using visualization and verbalization techniques. Click on any of the resources below to read more about this technique.
Through guided visualization, students learn how to create mental pictures as they read.
Brain Movies: When Readers Can Picture It, They Can Understand It
Guiding students to visualize as they read is an engaging and enjoyable way to boost comprehension and retention.
Doodling, Sketching, and ‘Mind Mapping’ as Learning Tools
Resources, ideas, and suggestions to help students get started with drawing to learn.
Additional Curriculum and Instruction Resources
Cooperative Children’s Book Center University of Wisconsin
50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know
Teaching Culturally Diverse Gifted Students
Authors Ford and Milner provide an overview of multicultural gifted education, effective teaching strategies, and best practices to support a diverse population of students.
Gifted/Talented Teacher Toolkit - Teaching Research Skills to G/T Students
TEA resource designed to help teach research skills in addition to tips for differentiating instruction for Gifted/Talented (G/T) learners.
G/T Teacher Toolkit II - Resources for teacher of G/T, Advanced Placement and Pre-Advanced Placement classes
TEA resource designed to help educators evaluate curriculum and determine where to differentiate and add depth and complexity for gifted students.
We Are Teachers - 50 Tips, Tricks and Ideas for Teaching Gifted Students
Ideas to engage high-level thinkers in the classroom.
Working with Gifted English Language Learners
Book introducing educators to the complexities and challenges of providing appropriate educational experiences for gifted English Learners.
Prufrock Press Webinars
Prufrock Press offers free webinars that brings experts in the field of gifted education to educators.
Supporting English Learners in Texas
TEA web portal providing educators with resources that will positively impact efforts to ensure equity and the academic success of English Learners.
Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS)
TEA designed the TELPAS to assess the progress that English learners make in learning the English language.
Texas Performance Standards Project
TPSP is comprised of performance standards, curricula, and assessments for enhancing G/T programs from kindergarten through high school.