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How it Works

Cognitive Training Plus Basic Skills of Learning

Bonnie Terry Learning’s Awaken the Scholar Within Programs address the underlying root cause of learning problems with cognitive training. At the same time, the programs teach you the basic skills of learning: phonics, spelling, reading fluency, comprehension, writing, study skills, and math skills. We help you create an environment for the brain to build the skills it needs for effectively learning new skills.

We are able to do this by addressing the underlying root causes of learning problems and the concept of neuroplasticity. The idea that the brain can reorganize itself and change and make more neural connections daily, is what allows Bonnie Terry Learning’s Awaken the Scholar Within (ASW) Programs to effectively change the way the brain functions to perform at its maximum capacity.

Address the Root Cause of Learning Problems

There are many training programs for various skills such as reading, math, or time management. Bonnie Terry Learning’s ASW Programs act on a different, more fundamental level than just teaching the skills your child or you struggle with. This fundamental level doesn’t do a band aid fix, but DOES address the underlying root causes of learning problems. Once your root causes of learning problems, whether it be visual processing, auditory processing, tactile/kinesthetic processing, vestibular function, or working memory problems, are addressed and you add in the step-by-step skill instruction, you will find that acquiring new skills is suddenly much more doable for you.

Focused solution, substantial benefits:

Bonnie Terry’s ASW Programs are not a one-size-fits-all answer because they address the root cause of the learning problems. The ASW Programs are solutions that improve reading skills (phonics, spelling, fluency & comprehension), writing skills, math skills, visual processing, auditory processing, tactile/kinesthetic processing, the vestibular system, and working memory skills which allows you to not only focus and resist distractions but also succeed in the learning tasks presented in a school or home-school environment with greater ease. This will help you academically, socially, and professionally.

Professional service:

When you decide to invest in Bonnie Terry Learning’s ASW Programs, Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET teaches you with video and audio lessons. The Awaken the Scholar Within Premium Program includes live weekly webinars, supporting you throughout your program. This is not a product – it is a high-quality service. You will be helped to get the most out of your effort.

How We Learn

The Integration of Brain Research and Learning: A Brain-Based Learning Approach Through Bonnie Terry Learning

We all learn by hearing (auditory processing), seeing (visual processing), and doing (tactile/kinesthetic processing). Within each of those areas, there are 9 sub-categories. When learning is difficult, it is due to one or more of those VAK (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) areas not working as efficient as they could, should and can. More on the 27 Areas of Perception and How We Learn: Brain-Based Learning Link here

Who Can Benefit

1st grade through adults with:

  • Dyslexia
  • ADD and ADHD
  • Learning disabilities
  • Auditory processing disorders
  • High-functioning autism

OR those that struggle with:

  • Phonics
  • Reading
  • Spelling
  • Writing
  • Study Skills
  • Math

Why It Works

Simultaneous Multi-sensory Instruction: Research has shown that learning that integrates as many modalities as possible facilitates learning. This is especially true for any struggling learner such as those with dyslexia. When a person uses all of their senses when they learn (visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic), they are better able to store and retrieve the information. So a beginning dyslexic student might see the letter A, say its name and sound, and write it in the air, on a white board, on the sidewalk with chalk, or on a large sheet of paper—all at the same time.

Intense Instruction with Ample Practice: Instruction for struggling learners or dyslexic students must be much more intense, and offer much more practice, than for average or advanced readers.

Direct, Explicit Instruction: Many students, including dyslexic students do not intuit anything about written language. So, you must teach them, directly and explicitly, what the sounds of the letters are, the eight ways we put letters together to make words, the six basic ways we put words together to make sentences, and the way we put five to six sentences together to write a paragraph. And you must teach and practice these concepts and skills until it is mastered in both reading and spelling.

Systematic and Cumulative: By the time most dyslexic students are identified, they usually have struggled for some time, and they may even be confused about our written language. So you must go back to the very beginning and create a solid foundation with no holes. You must teach the logic of our language by teaching the structure of the language (the spelling patterns) and practicing it until the student can automatically and fluently apply them when spelling. You must do reading fluency training to facilitate quick accurate reading so that meaning is not lost. You must continue to practice and do application lessons weaving previously learned concepts and skills into current lessons to keep them fresh and solid. The system must make logical sense to our students, from the first lesson through the last one.

Synthetic and Analytic: Those with learning disabilities, auditory processing disorder, visual processing problems as well as dyslexic students must be taught both how to take the individual letters or sounds and put them together to form a word (synthetic), as well as how to look at a long word and break it into smaller pieces (analytic). Both synthetic, analytic phonics and visualization must be taught all the time.

Diagnostic/Mastery Teaching: The instructor must continuously check for understanding and application of the skills being taught. When confusion of a previously taught concept is discovered, it must be reviewed and re-taught.

What Is Taught

Using the research from the National Reading Panel: Teaching Children to Read as well as the research from Dr. Sally Shaywitz: Overcoming Dyslexia the following elements are taught while addressing the root cause of the learning problems.

  • Phonemic Awareness
  • Phonics
  • Fluency
  • Vocabulary
  • Text Comprehension

Phonemic Awareness:

Phoneme blending: Children listen to a sequence of separately spoken phonemes and then combine the phonemes to form a word. /d/ /o/ /g/ is dog. (This is the process used in decoding words.)

Phoneme segmentation: Children break a spoken word into its separate phonemes. There are four sounds in truck: /t/ /r/ /u/ /k/. (This is the process used in spelling words phonetically: “invented spelling.”)

Phoneme/Grapheme Correspondence: This is the sound/symbol relationship which also deals with visual memory. You teach which sounds are represented by which letter(s), and how to blend those letters into single-syllable words and then multi-syllable words.

Two additional important points about Phonemic Awareness are:

Phonemic awareness instruction can help preschoolers, kindergartners, first graders, and older, less able readers.

The most important forms of phonemic awareness to teach are blending and segmentation, because they are the processes that are centrally involved in reading and spelling words.

Phonics: The Eight Spelling Patterns that compose English words are taught.

If students know the patterns they are looking at, they’ll know what sound the vowel will make. Conversely, when they hear a vowel sound, they’ll know how the syllable must be spelled to make that sound.

Special letters and silent are taught. For example, hard /C/ sound in cat vs the soft /C/ sound in city; kn where the /K/ is silent in the word know; the sound /SHUN/ can be spelled either TION, SION, or CION. The sound of /J/ at the end of a word can be spelled GE or DGE. Dyslexic students need to be taught these special letters.

Root words, prefixes, and suffixes, as well as language of origin are then taught to expand a student’s vocabulary and ability to comprehend (and spell) unfamiliar words.


Oral reading fluency is the ability to read with accuracy, and with an appropriate rate, expression, and phrasing. Fluency does not happen automatically. It is acquired word by word and happens when your child has fully mastered the words they are reading.

Important Points about Fluency

Fluency is important because it provides a bridge between word recognition and comprehension.

Repeated and monitored oral reading improves reading fluency and overall reading achievement.

Attention to fluency is often neglected in reading instruction.

Why Fluency is Important

More fluent readers focus their attention on making connections among the ideas in a text and between these ideas and their background knowledge. Therefore, they are able to focus on comprehension.

Less fluent readers must focus their attention primarily on decoding and retrieval of the meaning of individual words. Therefore, they have little attention left for comprehending the text.


Vocabulary refers to the words we must know to communicate effectively in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Vocabulary plays an important part in learning to read. Children use words in their oral vocabulary to make sense of the words they see in print. Vocabulary is also important in reading comprehension. Readers cannot understand what they are reading unless they know what most of the words mean.

How Vocabulary is Learned

Indirectly: Children learn the meanings of most words indirectly, through everyday experiences with oral and written language–e.g., through conversations with adults, through being read to, and through reading extensively on their own.

Directly: Children learn vocabulary directly when they are explicitly taught both individual words and word-learning strategies.

Teaching Individual Words

Teaching specific words before reading helps both vocabulary learning and reading comprehension.

Extended instruction that promotes active engagement with vocabulary improves word learning.

Repeated exposures to vocabulary in many contexts aids word learning.

Text Comprehension

Text Comprehension is a critical component of reading. Without text comprehension all you have is word calling with no meaning. One of the best ways to comprehend is to utilize the information you have read. Students learn comprehension through note taking, sentence writing, paragraph writing, and essay writing.

Instruction in comprehension can help students understand what they read, remember what they read, and communicate with others about what they read.

Research on text comprehension suggests what should be taught about text comprehension and how it should be taught.

Key Comprehension Strategies

Monitoring comprehension

Using graphic and semantic organizers

Answering questions

Generating questions

Recognizing story structure (and other text structures)


How It Is Taught

Phonemic Awareness and Phonics

Is taught with our ASW Spelling and Phonics Program and our ASW Premium Program through video and audio instruction and the use of a multi-sensory approach that includes a special VAK process and application lessons.

Systematic and explicit phonics instruction (step-by-step direct instruction in a logical sequence with a lot of practice built in)

Is more effective than non-systematic or no phonics instruction

Significantly improves kindergarten and first-grade children’s word recognition and spelling.

Significantly improves children’s reading comprehension.

Is effective for children from various social and economic levels.

Is particularly beneficial for children who are having difficulty learning to read and who are at risk for developing future reading problems.

Is most effective when introduced early (K or 1)

What is Systematic and Explicit Phonics Instruction?

Systematic and explicit phonics instruction provides instruction in a carefully selected and useful set of letter-sound relationships and then organizes the introduction of these relationships into a logical instructional sequence.

Children have ample opportunities to practice and review the relationships they are learning.

Some Approaches to Phonics Instruction

Synthetic (explicit) phonics–Children learn how to convert letters or letter combinations into sounds, and then how to blend the sounds together to form recognizable words. Children have learned the letters m, a, n and the corresponding sounds /m/ /a/ /n/. They blend them to make the word man.

Analytic (implicit) phonics--Children learn to analyze letter-sound relationships in previously learned words. They do not pronounce sounds in isolation. When children see and say the word ‘man’, the teacher tells the students that the letter /m/ makes the beginning sound in man.

Analogy-based phonics

Children learn to use parts of word families they know to identify words they don’t know that have similar parts. Children use their knowledge of keywords such as must and ate to read the word frustrate.

Phonics instruction is not an entire reading program for beginning readers.

“The best way to get children to refine and extend their knowledge of letter-sound correspondences is through repeated opportunities to read.” -Becoming a Nation of Readers.

Approximately two years of phonics instruction is sufficient for most students. If phonics instruction begins early in kindergarten, it should be completed by the end of first grade. If phonics instruction begins early in first grade, it should be completed by the end of second grade.

“There is no actual ‘deadline’ or ‘age limit’ for when a person can learn to read.” – Overcoming Dyslexia


Is taught with our ASW Reading Fluency Program, ASW Reading/Writing/Study Skills Program with 3 live on-line lessons, and our ASW Premium Program with 24 live on-line lessons as well as video lessons and audio lessons using a multi-sensory approach that includes a special VAK process, application lessons.

Repeated oral reading of single word drills (speeded word training) with a deadline imposed (timing the student for a specified time i.e. 1 minute)

Model fluent reading, then have students reread the text on their own.

Have students repeatedly read passages aloud with guidance.

Have students reread text that is reasonably easy (at their independent reading level).

Have students practice orally rereading text using methods such as student-adult reading, choral reading, partner reading, tape-assisted reading, or readers’ theater.


Is taught with our ASW Spelling and Phonics Program, the ASW Reading/Writing/Study Skills Program with 3 live on-line lessons, and our ASW Premium Program with 24 live on-line lessons as well as video lessons and audio lessons using a multi-sensory approach that includes a special VAK process, and application lessons.

Teaching Word Learning Strategies

Play with words

Visualize words




Prefixes, Suffixes, Word Origin

Advanced Word Learning Strategies

How to use dictionaries, thesaurus, and other reference aids to learn word meanings and to deepen knowledge of word meanings.

How to use information about word parts (prefixes, base words, word roots, suffixes) to figure out the meanings of words in text (structural analysis).

How to use context clues to determine word meanings.

Comprehension Strategies

Is taught with our ASW Reading/Writing/Study Skills Program, and our ASW Premium Program

Provide explicit (or direct) instruction: direct explanation, modeling, guided practice, application.

Teach note-taking with graphic organizers which facilitates higher level thinking skills

Teach visualization skills which improves both comprehension and memory skills

Teach specific comprehension skills: how to find the main idea, details, and sequence what you read

Teach writing skills: paragraph writing, essay writing, book reports, rough drafts to final copies

Choose the best strategy for the circumstances: Help readers use comprehension strategies flexibly and in combination.

Remember: All of these strategies are essential for a well-integrated, balanced reading program.

Supporting Research

Research that supports the Bonnie Terry Learning ASW Programs and Products are based on an independent 5-year study of her methods as well as the following additional scientific research:

Strategic Instruction Model: How to Teach, How to Learn
By Sheldon H. Horowitz, EdD

A Review of the Current Research on Comprehension Instruction

National Reading Technical Assistance Center

The Prevention of Reading Difficulties
By Joseph K. Trotesen

On Reading, Learning to Read, and Effective Reading Instruction: An Overview of What We Know and How We Know It
National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)

Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children
Catherine E. Snow, M. Susan Burns, and Peg Griffin, Editors

Teaching Children to Read
Report of the National Reading Panel

Summary of NIH Reading Research
by Dr. G. Reid Lyon, Ph.D.

Why Reading is not a Natural Process
by Dr. G. Reid Lyon, Ph.D.

Overview of Reading and Literacy Initiatives
Statement of Dr. G. Reid Lyon to Congressional Committee on Labor and Human Resources

The NICHD Research Program in Reading Development, Disorders and Instruction
by Dr. G. Reid Lyon, Ph.D.

Brain Research, Reading and Dyslexia
by Diana Moore, M.L.S.

National Center on Learning Disabilities Research Roundup Archive
by Sheldon H. Horowitz, Ed.D.

Catch Them Before They Fall, Identification and Assessment to Prevent Reading Failure in Young Children
by Joseph Torgeson

California Reading Initiative

Texas Reading Initiative

Plus additional published research by leading scientists: Wilson, 2000; Plomp, 1976; Tyler, 1992; Warren, 1984; Bregman, 1990; Duetch, 1975, 1982; Handel, 1984, 1989; Jones, 1987; McAdams & Bregman, 1979; McAdams & Saariaho, 1985; National Vision Research Institute of Australia; George McClosky, Ph.D, 2007; Rayner, K. (1997) Scientific Studies of Reading, 1(4) pages 317-339; Gibson, 1965; Mehta & Stakiw, 2004; Torgesen, Wagner, & Rashotte, 1994; Eric Jensen, author of Brain Based Learning, 1997; and Robert Sapolsky (1996, 1999).

I.E.P.’s and 504’s

For those of you with children with an I.E.P. or 504, remember, those are legal documents! The meetings can tend to be stressful. You want to go to your meeting with a plan of what you want to accomplish. Regarding what will be used to remediate or modify your child’s instruction, schools tend to NOT want to place any statement on the document. However, you CAN and should have the following description of a reading program should be included on the I.E.P. or in the 504:

“Independent scientific, replicated research supports the use of a reading, spelling, and writing system that is simultaneously multi-sensory, systematic, and cumulative with direct and explicit instruction in both synthetic and analytic phonics with intense practice.”

Yes, you can get methodology onto an I.E.P. Click here to learn how.

In 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Board of Education v. Rowley, stated that the IEP team meeting’s primary responsibility is to formulate and choose the best educational method for the child’s needs: “the primary responsibility for formulating the education…and for choosing the educational method most suitable for the child’s needs was left…to state and local educational agencies in cooperation with the parents or guardian of the child.”

If you have to choose the method most suitable, then you have to discuss methods and compare them. If you as a parent have had great results from one approach previously used with your child, then the school must document why another approach would be more suitable. To be in accord with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Rowley, the IEP team is not allowed to settle for second best.

Some school districts still demand another method/approach. When that is the case, they must give you “Prior Written Notice” explaining why they require that other approach and why they are refusing your proposal. That written notice must explain, in writing, every evaluation, test, record or report that the school uses to justify their position.

What do you do if the school or school district says, “We do not have anyone to evaluate, or use, the approach you are suggesting?” You can remind them that there is a Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD) where they can procure and distribute best educational practices. Your local district will need to contact their state for assistance with this.

For more information on 504 Plans and IEPs, see

The Research Behind Bonnie Terry Learning Programs and Products

Bonnie Terry Learning and Orton-Gillingham A Comparison

Brain Research

Learning Memory and the Brain

Product Reviews

Reviews and Scope of Programs and Products

School Information

Strategy Instruction Model

Testimonials and Reviews

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