What’s your background, and how did you get started in education?
I’m a Moderate/Severe Education Specialist, with a Master’s in Education and a B.A. in Marketing. I was a moderate/severe paraeducator of various age groups for many years, and I am now a High School/Transition Teacher and Vocation Program Specialist.
What’s your favorite memory from your time as an educator?
When I hear from students that have graduated. I love getting a visit, email, or phone call from past students, catching up with them and hearing about the new programs or jobs they are participating in. I feel a sense of accomplishment that I did my job in helping them become more independent before they leave my classroom.
What’s your typical day like as a moderate/severe education specialist?
If you are a special education teacher, you already know no two days are the same, and each day has new surprises. As a class, we have our morning routine, time allotted for working on IEP goals, group lessons, and an end of day routine. Many of my students are in and out of the classroom all day with services and on- or off-campus work experience.
How did you first hear about Boom Cards?
I have always been a huge fan of digital activities because they fit the needs and learning style of most of my students. We don’t use too many worksheets in my class, and using digital activities such as Boom Cards has helped in getting my students to participate in more activities throughout the day. I was making my own interactive PDFs and Google Slides when I first learned about Boom Cards from fellow SLPs that were using them.
Before you started using Boom Cards did you have a preconceived idea of what “online learning” meant?
My class was already on board with digital activities in the classroom, so I felt like I was one step ahead of the game as far as utilizing these materials during distance learning. My students were familiar with how to use these tools, as well, which made my planning for distance learning easier!
How did Boom Learning change the way you were thinking about technology for your students?
I loved how interactive Boom Cards were in comparison to the digital activities I was making for my class. Being able to assign decks to students, have positive reinforcement for correct answers and redirection for incorrect answers, audio, and data collection was a huge game-changer not only for my students, but it made my job a bit easier as well.
When did you realize that you might be really good at designing curriculum with Boom Cards?
Before I knew about Boom Cards, I was making my own interactive PDFs and Google Slides. I was amazed at the interactive components and how easy it was to convert all of the activities I had already made to Boom Learning. From there, I was easily able to learn how to create other types of digital activities that wouldn’t have been possible without the Boom Learning platform & technology.
How did you come up with the name for your brand?
It became an interest of mine to become a teacher-author during my first year as an intern teacher. I solely relied on materials that were made by other teachers (collaboration is awesome!), but I noticed the few “adult transition” or “independent living” materials I was finding were not age-appropriate for my crowd. As you know, with special education, each student and their learning needs are so different from one another. I found myself consistently creating personalized materials. And so began, Adulting Made Easy.
Who is your audience when you design new decks?
My main audience is high support special education high school and transition students, but life skills materials can be utilized by any and all ages, so it has been awesome to see my materials reaching classrooms at younger grade levels that I hadn’t originally intended on making these materials for!
What was the biggest surprise you’ve had while making and selling Boom Cards?
I think that the biggest surprise was the pandemic happening. Distance learning created a need for digital activities, and I was one of the few sellers that already had a ton of digital activities in my store. With the pandemic came a wave of teacher requests. I was busier than ever trying to create more activities to help other teachers out with their lessons.
How has the pandemic changed the way you look at education technology?
I have been a huge fan of digital activities since the beginning of my teaching career. With that being said, I know many teachers are comfortable with using paper worksheets and change is hard, so it has been a mission of mine to get other teachers on board with using more digital activities in their classroom by showing how I utilize them in my classroom.
What are some opportunities you see for new publishers who are just getting started?
Every student and classroom has so many different needs, levels, IEP goals. . .etc. Even if a deck exists (eg. Addition), there are thousands of ways you can differentiate that deck to fit the need of one specific student, whether it be a holiday theme, larger visuals, cartoon clip art or real images, an answer field of 3 choices, typing in the answer. . .etc.
How do you balance selling and promoting your Boom Cards with your other work-related responsibilities?
I’m not going to lie—it’s A LOT of work. I spend my evenings after school working on resources. The to-do list is never-ending, but I think that the important thing to remember is to set boundaries on that to-do list for each day. Know that you aren’t going to complete that to-do list overnight and make having some time for socialization or relaxation part of that daily to-do list.
Have you always considered yourself to be an entrepreneur?
I have always been hard-working and creative but hadn’t always considered myself an entrepreneur until I stumbled upon a platform that has allowed me to share these talents with other teachers and classrooms.
Any last words of wisdom?
Many teachers including myself have to find and pay for our own resources. Purchasing resources can add up in costs pretty quickly. This is partially why I started making resources, but I think that it is important to mention that I don’t make all of the resources I use in my classroom. If there’s an activity already out there, I’m not going to waste time trying to reinvent the wheel. I will gladly support another teacher and purchase their resource. Your time is money—think about paying $3.00 for an activity versus spending hours (and money on clip art) trying to make the same resource. Which is worth more in the end? Plus, using resources others have created brings a fresh new perspective into your classroom. I can’t possibly come up with all of the best ideas nor do I have the time to create every resource I’ve ever needed, which is why utilizing platforms like Boom Learning is awesome. I can share my creations and save time by utilizing others’ creations!
Check out some of Fiona’s recent decks in the Boom Store.