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A Reflection from Your Co-Founder


My son “recently started sharing his location with me via iPhone. I didn’t have to ask. It’s a sad state of affairs when even the grown kids want you to know where they are at all times.”


These words were written by the mother of two incredibly talented young men who have ebony skin. It breaks my heart every time I read them. 

Over the last several days, when I’ve stepped away from Boom Learning, I’ve stepped into a world filled with the the exhausted, heartbroken, worn-down voices of mothers of sons of color, whose every day and every hour is filled with the stress of living black in America.

This is not the first time I’ve heard their voices of grief and frustration. This time the grief is deeper, more soul-crushing. Their hurt is palpable. The confluence of Amy Cooper’s casual endangerment of a man’s life and the murder of George Floyd have given us a glimpse into the everyday experience of living black in America. The pain of that experience right now has become palpable to all of us.

This world I step into is a diverse, caring and blunt-speaking community. We share a commitment to the law. I have learned much from them. In the aftermath of recent events, the drive to do something is strong.

Today, I am sharing with this community the recommendations from that community for how to begin.

  • First, become comfortable with being uncomfortable. We all have hidden biases. Assessing our hidden biases is the first step to awareness.
  • Second, let go of fears you may have about explicit conversations about race. People of color do not live in a color-blind world. Here is a reading list of 31 Children’s Books to support conversations on race and racism for your classrooms.
  • Third, confront our past. My mother drilled into me from a young age: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana) In Germany, confronting their Nazi past to prevent a recurrence is so core to the curriculum that it is taught in multiple years. We must confront not only slavery, but the residual acts of the last century.
Here are a few suggestions for summer reading to understand modern racism –
·      The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America – by Richard Rothstein
·      They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, and Steven Scott
·      Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
·      Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

At Boom Learning, we are committed to providing quality, ethical, inclusive materials. Please report any materials of concern to help@boomlearning.com (choose Inappropriate/Infringing as the issue type).

How to choose the right format for your teaching resource

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If you are creating for your own students, following this guide will help you choose the right tool for the task. If you are creating for others, this will help you decide what tools to use for each piece of your overall project. It will also help you develop your Blue Ocean Strategy for your online store.


Step One Table of Contents

  1. Teaching Model/Resource Fit
  2. Choosing the Formats

First, Find the Format that Fits the Role in the Teaching Model

So many digital tools, so little time. You can port your resources to a variety of different formats, but before rushing to do so, ask yourself:

Where in a model of Effective Teaching does each piece I am creating belong?

This will help you determine if you have all the right pieces or whether something is missing from your project concept.

Screenshot 2018-07-16 10.07.37

Let’s say Secanda is creating materials to teach homonyms to second graders. She has made a funny video about homonym confusion, a series of worksheets for students to draw and write each homonym and its concept, and plans to add task cards for matching spelling to concept, and an assessment. Before she sits down to create, she maps them to the Effective Teaching Model.

Slide1

After pondering the model, Secanda decides to add a Teacher’s Guide for the novice teacher, and to create two additional deck of task cards: (1) to review first-grade homonyms and (2) to look ahead to higher level homonyms for the early finishers. Now she has addressed review and added cards to increase complexity. In her Teacher’s Guide she recommends her Greek and Latin root words resources for students who are ready for more.


Choosing Your Formats

After thinking about where what you plan to create fits in a model of effective teaching, you need to think about outside constraints. What resources and tools are available to you to make your resources? We’ll talk about video and sound in future installments. For today, we’ll discuss:

Is the format permitted with the clip art I want to use?

If you plan to share or sell your resources and you will be including purchased clip art, you have to choose a format that will meet the conditions of the license you purchased. For most formats (but not all), you will have to take steps to protect images you include from being easily copied or pay extra for a digital license.

Let’s say Secanda loves Melonheadz clip art. She reviews Melonheadz terms of use and discovers that

  • She needs to provide credit
  • Boom Cards usage is allowed with no additional steps or license
  • Downloadables for printing must have the content flattened and be in a locked pdf
  • PowerPoint and Smart Board usage requires that images be flattened as part of a background
  • Can’t be used in App Store apps, Facebook apps, or Tiny Tap apps

She’s not worried about the last item. But she realizes she needs to do some research about flattening and locking. She decides to investigate Boom Cards as an option.

Secanda also likes Glitter Meets Glue’s License. That license says

  • She needs to provide credit
  • Boom Cards usage is allowed (both moveable pieces and background)
  • Distribution in PowerPoint, Google Slides, and other files types requires that the image be inserted into the background so they cannot be lifted
  • Google Drive™ and Microsoft OneDrive™ moveable pieces usage is not allowed

She’s been learning about moveable pieces and is excited to create with them. She loves PowerPoint so plans to do more research on inserting images into the background. She knows some people are converting PowerPoints to Google Slides, but since she has elected to use Glitter Meets Glue images for this project, she decides to try that another day.

Before she moves on, she bookmarks several resources for future reference:

  1. How to export PowerPoint images to Boom Cards
  2. Creative Cloud at Adobe so she can purchase Adobe Acrobat as needed to flatten and secure images into the background
  3. Teaching in the Tongass’ instructions on how to use Adobe Acrobat Pro to flatten and secure the images
  4. Flat Pack for PowerPoint for when she wants to selectively flatten images in a PowerPoint
  5. Study All Knight’s Digital Express App for flattening her PowerPoints to import into Google Slides

Will the format work for my teacher user’s classroom?

After considering your resource constraints, you need to consider your teacher users tool limitations (remember your blue ocean strategy—serve your niche; not every niche). How do you expect your teacher users will use the materials?

  • Projected presentation?
  • Interactive whiteboard presentation?
  • Printed?
  • Print, copy, laminate?
  • Shared tablets?
  • Shared computers?
  • 1:1 computers?
  • Take home/at home devices?
  • Distance education via browser?

Secanda knows her customers are using interactive whiteboards and shared tablets. They are trying to reduce paper use.

Her friend Elem creates for upper elementary. His customers are using Windows netbooks shared with a second classroom. They are 1:1 for part of the day, but no take home use. They also have interactive whiteboards.

Elem’s wife Maddy creates for middle school. Her customers have 1:1 Chromebooks that they take home at night and over the weekend.

Pulling it all together for your project

Let’s look at each of our example teachers and how each might proceed:

Secanda decides to design in PowerPoint to have a consistent look between her task cards and her presentations. She does just the backgrounds for her task cards in PowerPoint and exports them as images to Boom Learning where she imports her moveable pieces and adds drop zones to create drag and drop tasks. She is so taken with making Boom Cards, that at the end creates a Boom Learning “teaching” deck that contains her funny video, an everyday language statement of the learning objective, a few cards to aid the teacher in presenting the material, along with a wrap-up card on meta-cognition skills for homonyms (how to use a dictionary).

Elem also likes Glitter Meets Glue. Some of his customers are die-hard fans of his PowerPoint games so he also plans to create in PowerPoint. After creating, he selectively flattens the clip art, leaving live the items that should be clickable and playable. Elem wants to reach new buyers looking for self-grading features and student reports. So after chatting with Secanda, he also exports his PowerPoints as images and creates Boom Cards versions of his resources. He knows his resources will be used for test prep. So he also prepares a teachers’ guide to explain how to use his decks with reports to selectively intervene using greek and latin root resources he created to correct homonym errors.

Maddy is all about open resources and DIY. She only uses free curriculum, images, free fonts, and prefers to create in Google Docs, using Slides, Docs, and Forms. Unfortunately, class sizes are growing at her school and performance is declining and she needs better information about where her students are struggling. Elem convinces her to give Boom Cards a try. She converts a Google Slides deck to Boom Cards. After importing, she adds text boxes, buttons and fill-in the blanks to enable self-grading. She assigns the deck to the whole class, having them screenshot the final screen. She takes the 5 worst performers and has them play the deck again as logged in students. She learns that three need practice with a few specific greek and latin roots, and assigns those materials improving their performance. Two others have challenges specifically with homophones. After further assessment, she recommends referral for evaluation of possible dyslexia.

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Human Judgment is the Key to Personalized Learning

This week, we want to talk about why teaching is a field that won’t be replaced by artificial intelligence (AI) or robots.

Teaching requires core skills such as empathy, generosity, and curiosity, that will likely prove challenging for AI/robots to master.

There is an additional advantage humans have over AI/robots when it comes to teaching: the ability to spot half-hidden objects. Self-driving car accidents are one example of how terribly wrong things can go when humans place undue trust in the ability of AI to spot half-hidden objects. This skill does not end with noticing a pedestrian in dark clothing on at night, it extends to a generalized ability to identify what is hidden in a set of facts and make sense of it.

Find Objects Visual Game. Solution in hidden layer!

Personalized and adaptive learning have been buzzwords for years, with a heavy focus on the power of algorithms to teach. The problem with the conversation has been that, all too often, teachers are not included as part of the solution. Too many pitches contend that with just-right technology, AI can take over the bulk of teaching.

Personalized learning is meeting a student where he or she is at. It is not a product, it is not a curriculum, it is a set of strategies and tactics. Data can help teachers find nuggets they might not have spotted and interventions they may not have known about, but only a teacher has the judgment and experience to decided how to intervene, and if an intervention is even needed.

Reading one of EdSurge’s newsletters this year, I was heartened to see they are predicting that the conversation in 2018 will be more about “ed” and less about “tech.” We hope more EdTech companies will realize their job is to empower teachers, not replace them.

A good EdTech tool provides a teacher data, from which the teacher can spot half-hidden objects of interest, be they a weakness in fluency, visual discrimination challenges, slow processing speed, advanced learning, dyslexia or more. Applying human judgment, a teacher can then calibrate personalized learning plans to address student needs.

The best EdTech tools enable teachers to extract information to provide an intervention.

The mainstays of the classroom of the future will be flexible EdTech tools that empower teachers, such as Learning Mangement Systems/Classroom Management systems like Google Classroom, PowerSchool, and SeeSaw, flexible creation and progress reporting platforms like Boom Learning, and flexible curriculum nuggets such as those found in the Boom Learning store and on Teachers Pay Teachers. These are the tools that allow teachers to find half-hidden nuggets and transform them into actionable, personalized learning plans.

How can Boom Learning help? With Boom Learning reports you can always see how long a student took to answer a question, which enables you to spot students who may have fluency, processing speed, or visual processing challenges before they fall behind. The data can’t tell you the source of the problem, but by assigning a variety of decks, they help you narrow down where a student needs more repetitions.

When you combine Boom Learning task cards with Google Classroom or similar management systems, you can create customized playlists that students work through. (Hyperplay links are helpful—available in the Library.) Match those up to your in-class differentiation groups, or where needed, use them to keep tabs on the progress of a student working on out-of-level curriculum. Althought this video is about Google Classroom, you can apply these same concepts to any Learning Mangement System: Canvas, Moodle, Blackboard, Powerschool, and more.

Watch the video.

There is no need to wonder if an advanced student is getting it. If you can’t find a deck that aligns with the out-of-level curriculum, whip up exit ticket decks in the Studio to check progress and catch gaps before they become a problem. Enjoy TedTalk length demo will get you up and running. Visit our YouTube Channel for more instructional videos.

Teaching is a field that will not be replaced by AI/robots. Let’s hope that 2018 is the year that more and more EdTech innovators start thinking about how to support, rather than supplant, teachers.

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Mathematics without Restrictions

I teach mathematics to students who have learning difficulties such as Autism and Dyslexia. For them, writing and answering worksheet questions can be difficult. Boom Learning is a great tool for them to have a go at showing their mathematical abilities without being restricted by the difficulties of using a pen.

Rebekah Bullen, LittleStreams

We frequently remind our older children that they once struggled during the early days of reading. Now, reading is a breeze and they have amazing worlds to explore.

Likewise there is an amazing world that will be theirs in mathematics. We share with our children, as much as they can understand, the worlds of statistics and combinatorics, proofs and probability, geometry and logic. And then we remind them that to get there they must put in the work of learning their math ABCs (or 123s).

Sound Fundamentals

Rebekah Bullen is a private tutor who teaches mathematics to students with learning differences. Her LittleStreams store is full of elementary through middle school resources for teaching sound fundamentals. We like how she has made innovative use of the text box element to make her products touch focused for her students.

Find the factors for a given number task cards.
Students use touch or click to identify all the factors of a number.

Addition and Multiplication Facts

Love them or hate them, math facts are the foundation for success in higher mathematics courses. Mastery of facts can be tedious, progress slow, and repetition is essential. Our experience with digital natives is that variety matters. Thank goodness for the variety available on Boom Learning.

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Boom Cards Reading and Literacy Resources

With Boom Learning, users only need only have access to a smartphone to begin their learning journey. There are over 2 billion smartphone users worldwide and 1.5 billion English language learners worldwide. That’s a lot of literacy waiting to happen.

With literacy education, we most commonly think of young children learning to read. But literacy education is also for

  • ELL learners of all ages;
  • Those who missed lessons due to developmental or health reasons; and
  • Those who must relearn after a brain injury.

One of our inspirations for building Boom Learning was to make it easier for teachers to assign “just right” materials to students. Learners do not always neatly line up with institutional assumptions about educational needs. Lucky for us, Boom Learning teacher authors share our passion for “just right education” and mini-app solutions.

First Steps in English Language Literacy

Matching rhyming images and first sound images are common and useful activities for pre-readers. Rebecca Reid, of Line Upon Learning, combines these activities with letter recognition.

The alphabet is self-evident to most who grow up in a country that uses a Latin alphabet. It is easy to forget that the alphabet is the first critical step to decoding for many students. Boom Cards authors provide a variety of resources, whether for young children, or older students with special needs.

Maturing English language learners, and students with decoding disabilities, such as dyslexia, need help tackling the challenges of English spelling: multiple sounds for common phonograms and multiple spellings for one sound.

Emerging Readers and Language Users

For students in the 3rd to 6th grades, Rachel Lynette and Deb Hanson bring you a plethora of ELA materials (search on “ELA” in the store). All the value you’ve come to expect from these ladies, except now they are colorful, self-grading mini-apps (no cutting required).

It figures that the buyer favorites from Deb Hanson would be her Figurative Language 1 and 2 series. Who would have predicted that buyer favorites from Rachel Lynette would be

rachel-drawing-conclusions

Hot Tip This Week

Did you find an oops on a card? Click on the “Feedback” button in the lower left hand corner to send anonymous feedback about a card or deck to an author. Only the author sees it. Corrections are instantly added to your Library.

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High-Engagement Social Studies

Teaching Resources for an Election Year

“There are so many things that I love about Boom Cards, but I especially love the high student-engagement factor and self-checking cards. Once monotonous flashcards suddenly turn into a fun activity when morphed into Boom Cards. They enjoy the instant feedback they get and know right away if they are “getting it.”

Becky Clark, Teacher Features

This election is an opportunity and a challenge. An opportunity to make government and geography lessons relevant. Augment your lessons with Boom Cards United States Presidential Election resources.

Government Teaching Resources

Presidents

Presidential Fun Facts Snip

Learning about past POTUSi can be dry and dull. Presidential Trivia Fun Facts mixes it up with a walk on the lighter side of history. Jamie likes to use this deck during small group rotation time. Skills + standards + Boom Cards = fun. Or try a different resource about the Presidents.

The Three Branches of Government

Jamie will also be teaching her students about our three-part system of government this year. After they complete the lesson, she assigns the Three Branches of Government.  It doesn’t feel like an assessment to the students; it is more like a game. In her dashboard, she can see at a glance which standards the students understood and what they missed. Since feedback is immediate, students learn while they self-assess. You can try government teaching resources from a variety of authors.

Geography for Younger Students

Quality Learning, No Time Wasters Required

Map SKills

In her 16 years as a third grade teacher, Becky Clark has met more than a few students who didn’t share her love for social studies. This year she has Boom Learning to help transform reluctant learners into Social Studies geeks like herself. She has her students practice Geography Map Skills: U.S. Regions, Continents & Oceans using Boom Cards.

“My students can easily complete deck after deck, at their own learning pace and not need me to set it up, make copies, replenish materials and waste precious learning time.”

Suggested pairings:

#Elections2020 #Presidents #Government #Geography

Enjoy Election season!
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Who We Are

State Senator Eric Oemig
10916 101st PL NE
Kirkland, WA 98022
425-449-0767
Mary Oemig

President and General Counsel
Mary is a lifelong learner who studied cognitive science in education before becoming a technology lawyer. At Boom Learning she indulges her loves of science, technology, research, and education. With Montessori early childhood education certification, and experience running an education cooperative Mary understands classroom limitations. Before founding Boom Learning, Mary’s legal practice focused on on complex copyright and trade secret issues for large and small companies. Her passion is improving education through research and evidence- based interventions.

State Senator Eric Oemig
10916 101st PL NE
Kirkland, WA 98022
425-449-0767
Eric Oemig

Chief Technology Officer
While serving in the Washington State Senate, Senator Oemig was the Vice Chairman of the Education Committee, served on the Quality Education Council, and Oemig was a key leader in passing landmark education reform in the state in 2009. Before joining the Senate, Senator Oemig was a Performance Manager at Microsoft, ensuring teams shipped quality, useful products. He served on the boards of First Robotics Washington and Technically Learning (now part of Code.org) helping to ignite passion in math, science and engineering for school kids.

Mastery for Monsters

“In kindergarten, our kids need a variety of practice with learning math skills. It may take multiple months for kids to become secure in their understanding of counting and cardinality. By using seasonal resources we can keep the lessons exciting and engaging. Although the skills remain the same, by using seasonal themes the lessons feel different. ” Della Larsen.

When a child is at standard a teacher’s work is done. Correct?

Nope.

The work is done when a student is proficient, you know, able to respond correctly, quickly and without hesitation. At that point, the concept has been so deeply ingrained that only a wee bit of brainpower is needed to retrieve the knowledge. That means more oomph to learn new things!

Proficiency training is for everyone. Seniors maintain or build connections. Career changers revive atrophied proficiencies or develop them for the first time. Middle school and high school students remove barriers to tackling advanced materials. Upper elementary students solidify math facts and word attack skills. Primary students need to learn, learn, learn!

Proficiency for the Win

Proficient learners have several advantages over non-proficient learners.

  1. Higher endurance.
  2. Less easily distracted.
  3. More brainpower to apply to new tasks.
  4. Improved retention.

These advantages are particularly apparent when students tackle tasks for which the proficient skill or knowledge is a component.

What are some examples of proficiency?

  • The ability to read aloud without conscious attention to adding expression.
  • The ability to recall and apply a math fact when performing advanced operations without hesitation.
  • The ability to drive from home to school without having to think about each turn and stop.

Overtraining without Injury

How do you get to proficiency? Overtraining.

What is the downside of overtraining? Boredom.

Sustained, ongoing practice of materials can get dull. Learners need to practice a skill when it is taught, and at regular intervals. Research shows that materials must be studied for three to four years to get 50 years of retention. Otherwise, the skill is lost within three to four years. Yipes!

Variation for the Win

Offering the same lesson in novel variations, ranging from theme to answer types, builds proficiency without turning students away from learning. With Boom Cards decks, you can find resources ranging in skill level from simple single answer multiple choice, to drag and drop, to multiple response, to fill in, allowing you to gradually increase the challenge and vary the presentation.

At this time of year, there are an abundance of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and fall-themed Boom Cards resources available. “My students always get so excited when October comes in anticipation of Halloween!  I like to direct that enthusiasm by creating Halloween themed activities for them,” says Boom Cards author and teacher Linda Post.

Sheila Cantonwine finds that students can be excited and distracted during the holiday season. She uses themed resources to keep them on track academically while spiraling math topics and providing more practice where needed. With Boom Learning’s reporting tools, teachers can see if the students are gaining proficiency.


Shop our store for current seasonal items. 

FIND FREE FOR PRIMARY


References

Kathleen M. Doughterty and James M. Johnston, Overlearning, Fluency, and Automaticity, The Behavior Analyst, 1996, 19, 289-292.

Daniel T. Willingham, Practice Makes Perefect-but Only If You Practice Beyond the Point of Perfection, Ask the Cognitive Scientist, American Federation of Teachers, Spring 2004.

How To Turn Your Ocean Blue For Breakthrough Sales

Have you heard of the Blue Ocean Strategy?

Thinking about blue oceans is one of the keys to teacher-author success.

W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne wrote Blue Ocean Strategy for corporations and governments. Analyzing a variety of markets, they discovered that success requires getting out of the “bloody red ocean of rivals fighting over a shrinking” pool of customers, and instead creating ‘blue oceans’―untapped new market spaces ripe for growth.”

Now, I don’t really see teacher authors as sharks at each other’s throats (YMMV). One of the unique elements of successful teacher marketplaces is they embrace the philosophy that cooperation lifts all boats. Gentle competition is accepted, but cutthroat competition is socially discouraged. Nonetheless, creating a blue ocean will increase your chances of long-term success as a teacher-author. You create a blue ocean by offering something new and different.

Questioning Your Way to a Blue Ocean

Think about what makes your items unique and how they fulfill an unmet need among teachers. Is it a new product category? Is it the artwork? The functionality? Use of self-grading tools? Is it a newer and more effective way of addressing a standard? Is it your methodology for teaching the subject? Your time-saving tips? You student engagement success?

Consider how you can invite your teacher users to explore alternatives they may not have imagined and shift them to using resources and tools they may not have known about.

When thinking about what to create, ask yourself,

  • What elements can I add or change to make my product stand out from what is typically available?
  • Is there something that I can offer that wasn’t available before?
  • What aspects of what teachers do now can I help them simplify or eliminate?
  • Is there something my teacher users do now that they should stop doing?

Explore the market as it stands today. Using the Blue Ocean Strategy’s Buyer Utility Map as a starting point, ask your self what needs are currently satisfied, and what is unsatisfied?

Let’s take for example task cards. In this sample analysis, the red dots show what needs downloadable, printed-on-paper task cards satisfy. The blue dots show how offering you task cards as Boom Cards satisfies more customer needs, expanding the range of teacher buyers the teacher-author can reach.

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Finding Commonalities Among Your Customers and Non-Customers (aka soon to be customers)

Another interesting aspect of creating a blue ocean strategy is to think not just about your current customers, but also about your “non-customers”. Let’s say your current customers are downloadable, printed-on-paper task card users. Your first tier of “non-customer” would be teachers who don’t yet but may soon purchase your resources. The second tier of “non-customer” is teachers who have seen what you offer and decided against purchasing your resources. The third tier is teachers who’ve never considered your resource as an option. When you identify commonalities among these teachers you identify ways to reach more teachers. For example, if a commonality is that schools are urging them all to print less, you can reach them by offering digital online resources.

Setting a Price

Price setting is always a conundrum. When setting a price, Kim and Mauborgne recommend that you first identify the price range that attracts the most buyers. You want to look at products similar to yours and alternatives to yours. (For example, if you make task cards, look at task cards and worksheets). Then identify the high, middle, and low end of that range.

If your materials primarily use purchased clip art and are easy to imitate, you would price on the lower end of the range. If your materials use purchased clip art, but combine them in unique and creative ways that are harder to imitate, then you would choose the middle of the range. If you create your own art and use it in ways not available to others, you can price at the higher end of the range.

How will you turn the ocean of available teacher resources blue?

Putting the BOOM into Differentiation

reprinted with permission from Minds in Bloom (first published Feb. 18, 2018)

by Belinda Givens of BVG SLP

BVG cover photo.png

We’ve all been there: small group intensive instruction and every student in the group is on a different level. You have a student who is answering all the questions, eager to participate and excited about learning. Then, there is the student who gets it but doesn’t really feel confident participating because they are not quite sure of their responses. And, of course, there’s a student (or two) who is completely lost and, instead of asking for clarification, tries to defer the attention away from themselves by exhibiting distracting behaviors to interfere with others. This is the challenge that we frequently face, and our mission is to differentiate or modify our lessons in such a way that we capture and motivate every student in the group. We want to provide a level of rigor that challenges our highest scholar while still presenting the material in a manner that intrigues, motivates, and encourages our lowest level scholar to begin to connect the dots.

Putting-the-Boom-into-Differentiation-2

From my personal experience, I have come to realize that I get the best outcomes from my students when they are having fun and actively interacting with the content. Kids today love technology, and by incorporating it into my lessons, my students come alive and get excited about learning. I strongly feel that learning should be fun in order to keep students motivated and to ultimately foster a long love of learning. When I think back to my school-age years, the teachers that I remember most are the ones who were creative and who put forth their best efforts to offer a learning environment that was full of fun and engaging resources. Fast forward to the 21st-century classroom, and it is absolutely imperative to stay on the cutting edge of technology – from digital interactive notebooks to digital self-grading task cards, there are infinite possibilities to differentiate your instruction digitally, while captivating and motivating your students.

Putting-the-Boom-into-Differentiation-3

The discovery of Boom Cards™ has really been a game changer for me and my small group sessions. If you haven’t heard of Boom Cards yet, then trust me when I tell you that they are exploding into the world of education! My students are so eager and excited by them that they have even started to request them for homework. When we as educators can excite our students to a level that they are enthusiastic about learning, we have hit the jackpot, and that’s the way I feel when my students begin to request homework. Boom Cards are digital interactive task cards that display on SMARTboards for whole group instruction, on computers, tablets, and iPads for small group lessons, and on smartphones for independent reinforcement. I have been busy creating Boom Cards to address a wide range of language and literacy concepts in a fun and interactive way. Below is a quick peek at one of my decks:

What I really appreciate most about Boom Cards is the fact that they are presented to my students in small, digestible bites, they have visual cues built in to aid in comprehension, and they incorporate technology, which is very motivating. They also can be read aloud to students who need extra support, or you can challenge your students to demonstrate their ability to read, comprehend, and independently complete the task on each card. I also love the fact that my students receive immediate feedback, and the cards are self-grading! This saves me a tremendous amount of time with progress monitoring and allows me to easily pinpoint the areas that my students are struggling with most so I can offer increased repetitions and opportunities to master specific skills.

Putting-the-Boom-into-Differentiation-4

Within small groups, I facilitate my Boom Cards™ lessons in such a way that every student is challenged regardless of their skill level. The interactive nature of the cards (point and click, drag and drop, and fill-in-the-blanks) naturally reinforce learning in a way that keeps my students motivated, and I spend the entire session focused on targeting important concepts and don’t have to devote time to external reward systems.  When my students are excited, it certainly shows in the area that matters most, and that is better measurable outcomes.  The increased attention level demonstrated by my students when using Boom Cards results in improved carryover from one session to the next, and therefore, we spend less time reviewing and more time on compounded growth.

Putting-the-Boom-into-Differentiation-5

Whether you are a classroom teacher, an ESE teacher, or a Speech-Language Pathologist, we all share a common thread – we want to see growth and progress in all of our students. As a reading-endorsed Speech-Language Pathologist, my passion is language and literacy.  I make a conscious effort to incorporate literacy into every session to maximize the time I have with my students.  With the level of rigor that is expected from them in today’s classroom, I want to ensure that they thoroughly understand that what we do in our small group sessions is to better equip them with the tools they need to be successful in the classroom and beyond. For this reason, I have started a complete series of Boom Cards that target a wide variety of language and literacy concepts in each deck.  My Sequencing and Story Retell Boom Cards series is designed to address sequencing, identification of story elements, answering wh- questions, auditory comprehension, reading comprehension, vocabulary, use of context clues, and story retell. They are differentiated to encourage active participation from all students in a fun and engaging way.

To help build the foundation for strong readers, I also have several Boom Cards™ decks that address important introductory skills, including rhyming words, phonemic awareness, sight words, synonyms, antonyms, and much more!  Every deck that I create is designed with a focus on differentiation and can be used during whole group lessons, small group intensive instruction, 1:1 sessions, or independent assessment. To find more of my digital interactive lessons, please visit my Boom Learning store HERE.

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Belinda Vickers Givens, MA, CCC-SLP has been an American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) Certified Speech-Language Pathologist for 11 years.  She is licensed in FL, CA, WA, and VT and is a member of ASHA’s Special Interest Group 18 for Telepractice.  She currently works as a teletherapist serving PreK-12th grade students.  She holds her B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Education from Florida State University and her M.A. in Communicative Sciences and Disorders from the University of Central Florida.  While pursuing her Master’s degree, she also earned an endorsement in Reading from UCF.

She is the co-owner of Infinity Rehabilitation, LLC with her husband, who is an Occupational Therapist.  She is the creator and owner of BVG SLP, which specializes in creating no-prep, no-print digital materials that are great for use in whole group, in small groups, within teletherapy platforms, or in face-to-face therapy.  She is passionate about literacy and has written a children’s book (The Adventures of DemDem the Garbage Truck: Watch Out for the Bumps).  She tries to incorporate literacy into the majority of her therapy sessions. She also sells resources in her Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Belinda is the mother to three amazing young boys and enjoys taking road trips, reading, crafting, and exploring.  She has been married for 15 years and resides with her family in Central Florida. You can keep up with Belinda at her website, on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Pinterest.

Algebraic Thinking with Boom Cards

Teaching Algebraic thinking early and often is a core feature of the Common Core math standards (and standards with similar underlying foundations such as TEKS). Algebraic thinking is the ability to recognize and analyze patterns and relationships in a mathematical context. The Common Core/TEKS approach replaces an elementary curriculum focused primarily on calculation with a model more like that used elsewhere in the world (yes Canada you beat us too it!). We still have some time in the U.S. before we’ll see the adoption of the Common Core methodology influencing high school math scores: the first cohort to have Common Core standards from Kindergarten is just now entering 5th grade.

Newer research casts significant doubt on earlier findings that students are not developmentally ready for algebra until a certain age, suggesting that those finding were are a function of instructional shortcomings, not neurological limitations. Neuroscience has shown that introducing concepts such as variable notation (representing numbers with letters or shapes) is within the reach of even lower primary-grade students.

Did you know?

When performing mathematical thinking, our brains activate the occpital lobes, the frontal cortex, and our parietal lobes. The parietal lobes help us find our way home. They combine mental maps with proprioceptive feedback to perform real world geometry and trigonometry. In the educational context, the parietal system helps us transform sequential information into quasi-spatial information, transcending order to find meaning. It is used to comprehend spoken language, perceive melody, and perform mathematical reasoning. If your students have basic navigational skills or can hold a melody, they have the baseline for algebraic thinking.

Introducing Algebraic Thinking, a pathway to success

Students begin developing algebraic thinking when they learn to decompose numbers in kindergarten. By first grade, they are ready to begin working with variable notation when solving basic addition and subtraction problems. They are also introduced to the first set of abstract rules that help them decipher relationships: the commutative and associative properties of addition. They also explore the relationships between addition and subtraction and the meaning of the equal sign. Patterns of equal groups of objects are then introduced to lay the foundation for reasoning about multiplication.

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The foundations laid with patterns of repeated addition in second grade, expand in upper elementary into manipulations with multiplication and division. The commutative, associative and identity properties of multiplication are introduced. Prior work with variable notation sets students up for success in understanding division as an unknown-factor problem. Complexity accelerates into fourth and fifth grade, adding fractions and decimals into the mix. Students use algebraic thinking to explore comparative relationships and practice writing equations using variable notation. Pattern and relationship work continues, with a focus on the patterns of factors.

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With these solid foundations, students are ready to continue developing their skills into middle school, high school and beyond, working with expressions, equation, inequalities, and when ready, working with polynomials, rational functions, and more.

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Resources for Deeper Investigation

Bárbara M. Brizuela, Maria Blanton, Katharine Sawrey, Ashley Newman-Owens & Angela Murphy Gardiner, Children’s Use of Variables and Variable Notation to Represent Their Algebraic Ideas, Mathematical Thinking and Learning, Vol. 17, Iss. 1, 2015.

Carolyn Kieran (Editor), Teaching and Learning Algebraic Thinking with 5-to 12-Year-Olds: The Global Evolution of an Emerging Field of Resarch and Practice, Springer International Publishing AG 2018.

Cathy Seely, A Journey in Algebraic Thinking, NCTM News Bulletin, Sept. 2004.

Teachers ❤️ Boom Cards

Today, we are sharing some of our favorite love notes you’ve sent about Boom Cards. For your shopping pleasure, this week only, the featured section of the store is all Valentine’s themed items! With only 7 school days until Valentine’s, shop now.

The Boom Team loves you back. You inspire us with your creativity. We are grateful for your feedback. Thank you for welcoming us into your hearts and your classrooms.

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Resources for DIY Digital Task Cards

Sooner or later you will make resources for your own classroom. With digital task cards you can make them low cost, reusable, and ddifferentiated. Boom Cards, unlike Google Slides, can’t be messed with by students and mistakes are super easy to fix.
Digital task cards unlock a world of color, photorealistic images, and interactivity for DIY classroom materials. Today we are going to talk about resources you can use to get started making custom Boom Cards for your classroom.

Using Boom Learning’s Content Creation Tools

We provide a variety of educational videos about creating with Boom Learning in our Create playlist on YouTube. More tips and tricks are available in our FAQs. For a TEDTalk length taste, enjoy this Studio demo by Rachel Lynette (Minds in Bloom) and Mary Oemig from our conversation with Danielle Knight (Study All Knight).

Fonts, Clip Art, Borders and Backgrounds

If you have already purchased clip art or fonts from an education seller, start by checking our Font and Clip Art Permissions List to see if the items you’ve purchased are approved for use with Boom Learning. Because the Boom Learning has built-in protections for art, there are artists who approve their resources for use with Boom Learning who disallow or require an additional license for Google Slides. Approved items may be uploaded.
If you want to skip the uploading, you can find a growing collection of clip art, static and animated, borders and backgrounds available for purchase on Boom Learning. You can find ready-made time images, fraction wheels and blocks, backgrounds and more. A little tip—bundles are found in Decks search, not in images.
Fonts are also available directly inside Boom Learning. Kimberly Geswein offers fonts at a discount for use with your Boom Cards. Try her fraction fonts to save time. We also provide a selection of free for commercial use fonts. If you have a favorite that is not present, send a request to the helpdesk. Fonts purchased from the Boom Learning store are automatically added to your Studio. They cannot be downloaded for offline use.

Photographs

If you are looking for photorealistic images to jazz up science or social study materials, consider Unsplash.com. Unsplash is an amazing resource for teachers, with a variety of stunning high-resolution images gifted to the world by photographers for commercial use. Although credit is not required, it is always appreciated and we highly recommend it. For more, check out 21 Amazing Sites with Breathtaking Free Stock Photos by Christopher Gimmer.
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Photo by Lambert Yuri on Unsplash

Free Sources on the Web

There are a number of excellent sources of free fonts, clip art, images, vintage, works of fine art and more available on the web. We highly recommend you choose resources that are free for commercial use. That way, if you decided to sell your deck, you won’t have to go back and scrub the images to remove any that were for non-commercial use only!

I Don’t Have Time for That!

You can always use the little blue Feedback button at the bottom of a deck to ask a seller to make a custom version for you. Be sure to include how the seller can contact you. You can also use Feedback to ask a seller whose style you like to create something that you need.