“I see so many kids struggle, and I know it doesn’t have to be like that. Learning can become easy. That is my passion, to make learning easy for everyone.” – Bonnie Terry, USA
Through her company, Bonnie Terry Learning, today’s Daily Edventures interviewee has shown hundreds of thousands of students and families how to overcome dyslexia, ADHD and physical or learning disabilities and go on to experience unprecedented success in reading, writing, spelling and math.
The breadth and depth of Terry’s experience is nothing less than impressive. She’s been an educator, learning disability specialist and educational therapist since 1973, and she generously shares her expertise through her website, blog, books (School Strategies for ADHD Kids and Family Strategies for ADHD Kids), and even as the host of a weekly radio show.
When she started her business in 1992, Terry was responding to countless requests she received from both teachers and parents for the materials she used with her students. Today, her games, books and guides are helping families around the world, and Terry is considered to be one of the top experts in helping teachers and parents identify their students’ learning disabilities and difficulties.
“Our philosophy is that all students can learn; they just need the tools and the encouragement to find their wings to reach their goals,” Terry says. “And we have results to prove that this is true.”
Terry is a great example of an educator who has deployed technology not only to improve her teaching, but also to expand her influence and impact. She uses flipped classroom techniques, leverages mobile devices and relies on collaborative technology tools to share her message. “Technology has revolutionized my teaching methods,” Terry tells us, “and allowed me to work with so many more families throughout the world.”
On October 23rd, you’ll have the opportunity to benefit from Terry’s expertise when she co-hosts a Virtual University with our own Nasha Fitter: Understanding the Learning Strategies of the 21st Century Learner. The session will cover the five best strategies every 21st century learner needs to succeed in school and in the workplace, how to remove learning roadblocks, the best study skills and technology strategies to enhance learning. You’ll also have a chance to win a copy of Amazing Grades, a worldwide goodwill book with 101 authors (including Terry) from 13 countries around the world with a special bonus chapter by Fitter. Be sure to register here, and join us for what promises to be an engaging and information-packed session.
In the meantime, enjoy today’s enlightening conversation with Bonnie Terry, and to get a better sense for her work, check out this instructional video for instance:
What drew you to the field of education?
I always wanted to teach – in fact, when I was in the second grade all I wanted to do was to become a teacher.
Why is it important to you?
Because learning doesn’t have to be so hard! I struggled in the third grade with reading. My mom spent time every day helping me and reading became easier. I see so many kids struggle, and I know it doesn’t have to be like that. Learning can become easy. That is my passion, to make learning easy for everyone.
Can you tell us about a favorite teacher, or someone who made a difference in your education?
My seventh grade social studies teacher. When I was in the seventh grade we were studying world history, and the textbook was pretty boring. One day, the teacher put on African music and then pulled out a bull whip and snapped it at the front of the classroom. That simple act made history come alive for me, and I’ve been a history buff ever since.
Please describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education. What has changed as a result of your work?
Some of my works have been validated by independent research. This has resulted in thousands of kids around the world reading with greater ease.
How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?
I teach online now using a flipped classroom – teaching parents and teachers how to help their kids/students improve their skills via online live interactive webinars and video lessons. I have also developed a variety of YouTube videos that have had over 750,000 views, teaching specific skills related to reading, writing, and spelling. I have also written several best-selling Kindle books – distributing information digitally.
In your opinion, how has the use of apps, cellphones, and mobile devices changed education? And your work?
The use of apps makes it easier for kids and parents to gain access to skill-building in an affordable way. Mobile devices allow me to help thousands globally vs. working with 50 – 70 students locally. It has allowed me to have a worldwide audience and to help parents and kids all over the world. Mobile devices also allow me to give access to strategies that work, in an affordable way.
In your view, what is the most exciting innovation happening in education today?
That education is no longer static and only done at school. Using the flipped classroom model makes the teacher’s/parent’s ability to interact with and differentiate lessons so much easier! The ability to touch kids and adults – as well as parents no matter where they live – making learning easier for everyone.
Is there a 21st century skill (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, or creativity and innovation) that you are most passionate about?
The ability to collaborate as well as teach innovatively – online using video lessons, cameras, white boards, and slides, so the students can see me and I can write over things, bring up slides or other tools, and show step-by-step how to do something to improve learning skills. Why? This makes getting the help you need affordable and accessible. This also allows me to give specific advice and coaching in how to change families’ lives as well as the lives of their kids and students.
If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?
A book that is narrated (for those who don’t yet read) that would teach children the power of words and books and how they open the world to you. This is how the world is going. This could be a digital book that would be interactive, so you would see a line go under the words as they are being read. Then, access to a digital library.
What is your country doing well currently to support education?
Raising the bar of education and focusing on core skills.
How must education change to ensure that students are equipped to thrive in the 21st century?
Pay attention to those who struggle and make specific interventions to make learning easier. Teach a love of learning and that everyone can succeed, everyone has talents, and everyone can improve their skills.
What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?
Working with parents and teachers together for the common goal of students to help struggling students succeed. Often I see kids just being “written off” because they have ADHD, dyslexia, or don’t learn like everyone else. These kids are not always given the tools or methods to learn. They are also not given the success strategies that let them know they can succeed.
How can teachers or school leaders facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?
Look at the brain research and see the possibilities, see how learning in positive environments makes a difference, focus on every positive rather than on mistakes.
How have you incorporated mobile devices/apps into your classroom and have you seen any improvements?
Kids use mobile devices for additional practice and brain training exercises. They have improved their skills.
About Bonnie Terry,
- Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois
- Current residence: Auburn, California
- Education: M. Ed., in Special Education: Learning Disabilities, Physically Handicapped; Board Certified Educational Therapist (BCET)
- Website I check every day: http://www.bonnieterrylearning.com/
- Person who inspires me most: My mom – Virginia Burke.
- Favorite childhood memory: Camping in the Tetons in Wyoming.
- Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Lake Tahoe
- When was the last time you laughed? Why? Today –my husband combined the name of two of my books into one and I just started laughing.
- Favorite book: anything by Dick Francis
- Favorite music: The Beatles
- What is the best advice you have ever received? Do your best, you’re worth it.
- Your favorite quote or motto: Listen, Learn, and Do.