As the year progressed and Henry
became more confident, he learned to
use software that provides speech-to-text translation.
Tips for Meeting the Needs of Twice-Exceptional Students
Spelling and Vocabulary
The spelling portion of the program
consists of direct instruction in above-grade-level words tied to reading
material or instructional units. Henry
was required to complete the spelling
assignments, but he was excused from
taking the weekly tests. Instead, he
completed an alternate lesson in a workbook with spelling words at his level
and was tested on those words. This
allowed Henry to be exposed to spelling
patterns and vocabulary consistent with
his advanced level of understanding but
to be evaluated at his instructional level.
Henry attended science and social studies classes with his Challenge Program
classmates. These classes included many
hands-on projects and experiments for
which Henry needed no accommodation. When students in the program
were assigned to read material on the
subject and write responses, Henry
read his selections to an adult and then
dictated his responses. This strategy
enabled Henry to participate fully with
his classmates in these content areas,
and it addressed his deficits in reading
n Provide decoding instruction at the student’s level of disability but comprehension instruction at the gifted level. (A program such as the Wilson Reading
System can be beneficial.)
n Be sure that the student can demonstrate his or her content-area knowledge in
a format that does not require written language.
n Acknowledge the ideas in written work without penalizing the student for errors
in spelling and punctuation.
n Allow the student to participate verbally in classroom activities so that he or she
can feel successful and so that classmates have an appreciation for the student’s
n Make use of word-processing technology wherever possible. Don’t rely on just
Microsoft Word, but consider other appropriate software, such as Dragon, Naturally Speaking speech-recognition software, now available as a free app.
n Make sure that accommodations are made throughout the school day, not
just in language arts. This may include reading tests aloud and writing down the
student’s spoken answers, having the student read content-area assignments
aloud so that concepts aren’t missed, typing writing projects for the student, and
helping him or her keep materials organized.
What Made This the Right Fit
There were four reasons this plan for
Henry was effective.
First, his Challenge Program teacher
was willing to make accommodations
for Henry and design learning experi-
ences in which Henry could demon-
strate his knowledge. Occasionally,
other staff members and parents
questioned whether Henry was doing
what the other children did. The teacher
simply answered, “He’s learning what he
needs to learn in a way that works for
Second, the school’s special educator
recognized that even though Henry
wasn’t at the same level as her other
students, he had needs that she could
address. She was willing to make time
for him in a busy day.
Baum, S. M., Owen, S. V., & Dixon, J.
(1991). To be gifted and learning disabled.
Mansfield Center, CT: Creative Learning
Foley Nicpon, M. F., Allmon, A., Sieck, B. &
Stinson, R. D. (2011). Empirical investigation of twice-exceptionality: Where
have we been and where are we going?
Gifted Child Quarterly, 55( 1), 3–17.
U. S. Office of Education. (1977). Assistance
to states for education of handicapped
children: Procedures for evaluating specific learning disabilities. Federal Register,
Weinfeld, R., Barnes-Robinson, L., Jeweler,
S., & Shevitz, B. R. (2006). Smart kids
with learning difficulties. Waco, TX: Prufrock Press.
J. Christine Gould is professor of
teacher education at University of
Wisconsin–Stevens Point; cgould@uwsp
.edu. Linda K. Staff is a teacher in the
D.C. Everest School District’s magnet
gifted program housed at Riverside
Elementary School in Ringle, Wisconsin; email@example.com. Heather M.
Theiss is a multicategorical teacher at
Riverside Elementary; firstname.lastname@example.org