What’s your background, and how did you get started in education?
I have been a Speech Language Pathologist for over 15 years. My undergrad is in Psychology with a minor in Education from FSU. I pursued my Master’s in Communication Sciences and Disorders from UCF and worked for several years with adult clients before transitioning to the public school setting. I wanted to be on the same schedule as my own kiddos, and I have always enjoyed working with school-aged children. I ventured into teletherapy seven years ago and have been loving it ever since. I hold an endorsement in Reading, and literacy is the foundation of everything that I create.
What’s your favorite memory from your time as an educator?
I am very passionate about making connections with my students, and I have several fond memories. Some of my favorites are when my students begin to believe in themselves as much as I believe in them. I have a “yes, you can” philosophy and challenge my students in a very positive, uplifting, and motivating way. I present them with things that others may not have encouraged them to do. When I have students come to me and tell me that they want to pursue their dreams and become an engineer, or a doctor, or a nurse, a teacher, an SLP, a business owner, a chef, a carpenter, or an author because of something that we worked on together in our sessions, it is so incredibly inspiring. If I can help my students feel empowered and confident in their abilities, I believe I have done my job effectively.
How did you first hear about Boom Cards?
I discovered Boom Cards about six years ago while searching for interactive digital resources to use via teletherapy. At the time, I had only been a teletherapist for about a year and was struggling to find the kind of resources that I wanted to use. I wanted a more interactive option, so I was very excited when I stumbled upon Boom Cards. Not only were they interactive, but I could create them myself. This was very motivating to me because it put me in the driver’s seat and allowed my imagination to soar. The ability to customize resources to fit the needs of my students allowed me to differentiate my decks and individualize them to address a wide range of important targets. I was immediately hooked and have now created almost 200 Boom Card decks.
Before you started using Boom Cards were you already working as a teletherapist? If so, what tools were you using?
Yes, I had been working as a teletherapist for about a year before I discovered Boom Cards. During that time, I was using a variety of static PDFs, interactive PDFs, interactive PPTs, resources for Google Slides, and several educational websites.
How did Boom Learning change the way you thought about using technology for speech-language pathology?
Boom Cards gave me the tools I needed to create the resources that I envisioned for my students. I wanted fun, interactive, vibrantly colored resources that were also challenging, dynamic, differentiated, culturally responsible, and language rich. As a creator, the ability to incorporate all of these essential elements into my resources has been a game changer. My students are excited and motivated to participate and really look forward to using Boom Cards.
When did you realize that you might be really good at designing curriculum with Boom Cards?
When I first started creating resources, I never planned to sell them. I was just creating what I needed at the time. It wasn’t until my sister (Akins Math Shop), who’s been a teacher for 30 years, saw my resources that I decided to start selling online. The feedback that I received from her, fellow SLPs, and co-workers helped me see that I may be onto something.
Who is your audience when you design new decks?
I design with my students in mind. I’m thinking about their needs and what might motivate them to be excited to work towards mastery of their goals. I also have created several decks based on direct requests from fellow SLPs and educators. I truly LOVE to create, and being able to share my resources definitely motivates me to keep creating.
Can you describe your publishing process?
For me personally, I start with the end goal in mind. I think about the goal that the resource will address, and then I develop strategic ways to incorporate literacy. I strongly feel an emphasis on literacy helps to ensure that our students are working on important concepts while still encouraging them to become stronger more confident communicators. I have several Boom Cards that have become series based upon their effectiveness and the requests from my students to have more. My Sequencing and Story Retell decks are my most popular series, and my students love them. I love them because I know we are addressing so many important skills in a single deck in a fun, engaging, and motivating way. I have differentiated this series to offer multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate mastery of reading comprehension, including answering questions, identifying story elements, sequencing the events in the story, retelling the story, vocabulary review, and use of comprehension strategies.
What are the steps you go through to prepare a deck for publication?
My preference is to create in PowerPoint first and then convert to Boom Cards. This approach ensures that I have the flexibility I desire to bring my decks to life.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get noticed as a publisher on Boom Learning?
I would say, quality over quantity. I think it’s important to find your niche and create resources that you are excited by. My niche is language and literacy. I love combining the two in a creative and innovative way to make my students feel excited to not only attend our sessions but to put forth their best effort. Once you’ve identified your niche, I recommend working towards polishing your decks in a way that the quality is apparent immediately.
What was the biggest surprise you’ve had while making and selling Boom Cards?
I think one of the things that surprised me about Boom Cards is how much I enjoy creating them. I get excited to release new decks, and the positive response that I receive is very encouraging. It certainly motivates me to keep creating.
What are some opportunities you see for new publishers that are just getting started?
I think the sky is the limit. If you are thinking about creating, I absolutely say GO for it! Tap into your passion and draw upon that to help guide the creative process.
Can you really make a living as a publisher?
Definitely! If you have a desire to turn it into a business, it can absolutely be done. The more you put into it, the more you will get out of it. Having an open mind, a willingness to adapt to change, and a passion for creating can lead you down the path of a successful business.
Have you always considered yourself to be an entrepreneur?
I think I have always been a creative person who is willing to take risks. I like to think outside the box, and I am driven by having freedom and flexibility. The idea of having multiple streams of income does motivate me, and I feel these are all characteristics of an entrepreneur. Becoming a resource creator has helped me to tap into my passion for creating, and it has definitely helped me grow my small business in a very positive, meaningful way.
Any last words of wisdom?
Have FUN with it! If you’re creating resources, be sure to think about ways that you can incorporate an element of FUNctionality into your creations. When students are having FUN WHILE LEARNING, we know that outcomes are better. Be patient with yourself and with the process. It takes time to build a store and, even though I’ve been doing it for a while, I am ALWAYS learning and eager to continue to grow along this amazing journey.
Check out some of Belinda’s recent decks in the Boom Store.