Guest Posts – School Outfitters Blog Furnishing Great Places To Learn Fri, 05 Feb 2016 21:51:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Guest Post: Helping Students with Stealth Dyslexia Fri, 31 Jul 2015 18:36:00 +0000 "Twice exceptional" students are academically gifted but also have a learning difference.

“Twice exceptional” students are academically gifted but also have a learning difference.

This is the last in a series of guest posts from Brian Smith, an educator from North Carolina. Please share your experiences with dyslexia or stealth dyslexia in the comments.

In the simplest terms, dyslexia is an unexplained learning difficulty in reading that is not typical of the students’ general intelligence. Dyslexia is not a vision problem but rather a processing difficulty that occurs “behind the eyes.”

I recently learned the term stealth dyslexia, which is defined by the Davidson Institute for Talent Development as a student who is intellectually gifted but also has dyslexia. Stealth dyslexia falls under the umbrella of “twice exceptional,” meaning an academically gifted child who has a learning difference. The most common learning differences that coexist with giftedness are ADHD, dyslexia and autism.

Twice exceptional students can be hard for teachers to understand and can seem to have a lot of potential but may struggle on seemingly “easy” activities. For example, a child may struggle in reading by inserting, misreading, or omitting smaller words like the, was, or like but have superior comprehension. These students often go years without detection. They aren’t challenged to their academic potential. They also aren’t given needed accommodations to help them demonstrate how smart they are. The lack of accommodations can lead to poor self-esteem in twice exceptional students. Having the ability but not being able to express your knowledge can be very difficult for students to understand.

As their school years go by, these students often become frustrated. Others might assume the child isn’t putting forth enough effort. In actuality, twice exceptional students can be very creative. Teachers should not lower their expectations because students with stealth dyslexia are capable. There are several accommodations teachers can use to help these students show what they can really do:

• Extend deadlines to help them gather and organize their thoughts
• Let them answer orally so that they can focus on their answer and not getting their thoughts on paper
• Use capital letters beside each answer choice in fill-in-the-blank word banks. They are more distinct and less likely to be reversed in the blank answers
• Let students read information and questions aloud to themselves. This can help them read with more accuracy – often times when a student misreads a word, if they hear it, they can “catch” their error and go back and correct
• Remember that fair isn’t everyone getting the same, fair is everyone getting what they need

Providing students with stealth dyslexia the accommodations they need to demonstrate their knowledge of a subject know benefits the student and the teacher. The student feels successful and is able to grow academically. The teacher gains a student who is engaged in the classroom.

For more information about dyslexia, please visit

For more information about twice exceptional students, please visit,

Guest Post: End-of-the-Year Storage Wed, 20 May 2015 15:50:43 +0000 This is the next in a series of guest posts from Brian Smith, an educator from North Carolina. Enjoy his tips for end-of-the-year storage and share your own in the comments.

Packing up any classroom at the end of year is bittersweet. It is sweet because you made a difference in a classroom of student’s lives and have now sent them off to continue learning and growing. It is bitter because you will miss those students and the bond that developed AND because you have to pack up your classroom, which can be a nightmare!

In the lower elementary grades, packing up means finding a way to store all the reading materials, math manipulatives, and centers that are your students used to learn with all year long.

If you are lucky, you have a closet, although it’s probably nowhere close to large enough. If you aren’t lucky, you have a classroom bathroom that hopefully smells like sunshine and lavender, but I doubt it does. I hope you aren’t one of those truly poor, unfortunate souls who have three cabinets and half a wall of counter space. My heart aches for those teachers.

Through the years, working in many different schools, with many different storage capabilities, I have come to rely on one tried and true packing-up-the-classroom solution: 20-gallon rubber storage bins.

Luckily, my wife loves these big bins and has taught me well about spending the few extra dollars to get the good quality ones. I once bought a great, clear plastic bin with a blue lid and that thing cracked like a plumber’s backside! It is barely able to store my Easter egg collection!! After of years of end-of-the-year organizing incorrectly, here are my top 5 tips for making it super easy for the end of the year and, more importantly, helpful at the beginning of the next school year.

  1. Get totes with the attached lids. This way you can always stack them because you will always have the lid for each tote. Please don’t ask how many tote lids I have lost, through no fault of my own! They just disappear (much like your student’s pencils!). These totes are also better because you can fill them a little more. The lids interlock in the middle of the tote so I am always able to gently position (cram) a few more things in each box and still get the lid on.

    Image of Akro-Mils Attached Lid Container

    Store supplies in the Akro-Mils Attached Lid Container and you won’t have to hunt down lids.

  2. Use different size totes. I find it helpful to have multiple sizes because I like to pack my teacher supplies by theme. One of the larger size totes is used for my Block Center supplies, like my marble track builder kit, blocks, Legos, etc. A smaller tote is needed for my Imagination Station Center which houses puzzles, Matchbox cars, and craft supplies.
  3. Purge when you pack. I have a one tote rule. I want all of my supplies for each center or station to fit in one tote. It may be a big tote but one tote is my goal. If I have too many supplies to fit in one tote then I begin purging until it all fits. Many schools have a designated area to put items teachers are getting rid of. This helps out the new teachers the following year. You can also donate items to Goodwill or Salvation Army. The final option is to throw it away because it truly qualifies as trash.
  4. Label your boxes. This is the biggest help in the fall when you are setting your classroom back up! I didn’t feel like labeling was that big a deal but those summer months are so full of professional development, theme planning for the following year, and trying to squeeze your nickels together to go on a small vacation, that I always forgot what is in each box. I would then end up having to open every box for the one thing I was looking for and that is one quick way to turn an empty classroom into a hot mess. Using this label maker and taping them to the ends and sides of your totes will make unpacking a breeze in August.
  5. Stack strategically. It takes one extra minute before leaving for the summer but will save countless minutes and frustration the following fall. If you have supplies that you don’t use at the beginning of the school year, stack them on the bottom or in the back. Everything is labeled so finding it when you need it will be a breeze but you don’t want to move that box around 10 times to get what you need to begin the school year.

Bonus tip! – Go ahead and have a few extra totes for the following school year because this is also a great way to store your holiday supplies with ease. When you get out all your St. Patrick’s Day supplies from their hiding places around your room, you can then put them all in one place – your labeled tote! By the end of the year, you will be super organized and you won’t have spent an entire weekend trying to get it organized. Those weekend organization plans always end with me being hungry, frustrated, and tad more disorganized anyway!

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