Featured

IEP Progress Monitoring with Boom

We reached out to Kimberly Jacobs to bring you guidance on how to support Individualized Education Programs (IEP) with Boom Card activities and track progress. She shares why she relies on Boom to make the most of her sessions with students in this webinar on IEP Progress Monitor with Boom.

DID YOU KNOW: 
Boom's Reports also show how long it takes students to answer each question and to finish a deck 

Kimberly Jacobs is a K-8 Resource Teacher with 33 years of experience in General and Special Education across grade levels. She covers how to Leverage Boom Cards for meaningful practice and how to use Boom Reports for progress monitoring. In this webinar, Kimberly shares her process.

She explains how to:

  1. Set IEP goals for students
  2. Leverage Boom Cards to pursue goals
  3. Monitor progress to stay on track

She discusses how to leverage brain-based research to create or find Boom Cards that build toward IEP goals. She also explores how to use Boom’s Reports to recognize who is on track, who isn’t really trying, and when to intervene.

In the process, Kimberly sprinkles in time saving tips and pointers such as how to recycle old decks into new activities. She also gives specific examples of Boom Card activities that meet IEP Goals and cover a variety of skills and subjects including:

  • Behavior
  • Language and Speech
  • Reading and Grammar
  • Spelling and Vocabulary
  • Applied math and Calculation

Head over to our YouTube channel to find Kim’s webinar on IEP Progress Monitoring with Boom, and don’t forget to check out some of the other webinars and how-to videos.

About Me
Kimberly Jacobs

In addition to teaching, Kimberly Jacobs creates resources for fellow educators. To add her activities to your library, browse her Boom Store: Lessons in a Bubble Kimberly Jacobs. You can also follow her on Instagram.

Featured

5 Ways to Use Boom in Classrooms

We got together with Della Larsen to bring you 5 Ways to Use Boom in your Classroom, so you can keep saving time and engaging students wherever you find yourself teaching this year.

DID YOU KNOW: 
Boom Learning has been a tool in classrooms since 2016

Della Larsen devoted 34 years to working with general education and special education kindergarteners in a large, urban public school.

In this webinar, she shares how to use Boom Cards in the classrooms:

  • As an extension of guided reading groups
  • In math and literacy centers
  • For intervention groups
  • With a whole classroom
  • Filling time between activities

You’ll learn how to reduce stress and chaos in the classroom with Boom Cards.

Differentiation can be tricky. Della shows how using Boom Cards can making to targeting specific skills easier. She shares how to save time evaluating student progress towards learning objectives with Boom Learning’s progress monitoring tools.

She slips in a few of her favorite tricks for meeting homework requirements without overloading students or getting stuck at the copier during lunch.

Della also drops tips on using Boom Cards for:

  • Fast finishers and “pop-corn kids”
  • Morning work and homework
  • Making the most of volunteers
  • And more!

Hit play on 5 Ways to Use Boom in your Classroom to get all these insights and tips. Then, check out our playlists for additional webinars, how-to videos, and more on Boom’s YouTube channel.

Recently retired, Della now creates digital resources for other educators. Go to Della Larsen’s Class to add her Boom Cards to your Library.

Featured

Boom Webinars Kick-Off 2021-22 School Year

It’s a new school year and a fresh start. Our goal is still to save educators time and get them back to doing what they love: teaching! To that end, we will continue to add features and offer additional resources to help you all get the most from your Boom Learning accounts, but we’re also answering your most asked questions.

Over the summer, we noticed a lot of interest in live training session, so we’ve kicked the year off with exactly that!

In August, we covered the basics in our Intro to Boom Learning Webinar. Our agents answered questions as Kyle led everyone through set up and toured tools and basic techniques for using Boom Cards to teach. In September, we launched a series of webinars led by educator-experts which goes live every Wednesday.

Della Larsen, retired teachers and Boom Author, got us started with 5 Ways to Use Boom in your Classroom which explores how Boom Cards work in person and with groups of students.

Shannon Archer, SLP with 14 years experience, then showed us How to Use Boom Cards for Speech Therapy. She demonstrates how to address individual goals for clinic and home-based therapy and shares tele-practice techniques and tips to differentiate activities for mixed groups.

On the 22nd, Frances Amato, STEAM teacher and Boom Author, will share tips to Save Time with Boom Student Reports, and Kimberly Jacobs will wrap up this month with IEP Progress Monitoring. Get all the details and sign-up here, or watch past webinars and How To videos on Boom’s Vimeo or on YouTube channels.

Keep an eye out for future Educator Led Webinars in October and more, because we will continue to release new webinars, how-to videos, and other live events throughout the school year. Topics range from assigning decks and getting the most out of reports data to creating and even selling Boom Cards.


In the meantime, our customer care agents are always ready to help, and we have a few quick start guides to get you going:

Quick Start Guide for Teachers – for information on setting up an account, classrooms, assigning decks, and using reports as well as organizing the library.

Quick Start Guide for Students and Parents – to learn about student accounts and logins, playing Boom Cards, and viewing scores as well as basic trouble shooting.

Quick Start Guide for Boom Card Creators – for a full tour of the studio as well as tools, tips, and resources for creating your own cards.

Quick Start Guide for Authors: Learn to Sell Boom Cards – which covers everything from setting up an account to customizing the store and selling in outside marketplaces.

Quick Start Guide for Schools and Admins – to explore the features and benefits of School Org Accounts for those interesting in purchasing multiple accounts or points in bulk for groups such as schools and organizations.

You can also collaborate with peers to give and get ideas or advice on using Boom Cards in the classroom, creating your own decks, or even selling. To join Boom’s online community, check out our complete list of groups here.

Get the latest on upcoming events, new features, and tips by following us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

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10 Content Tips for Boom Card Authors

So you’ve set up your Boom Storefront, learned your way around the Studio, and now your ready to start filling those digital shelves with new decks of Boom Cards.

Stuck for ideas? Not sure what Boom Cards will sell?

Check out our 10 tips for topics and content. Each one is based on requests from educators and trends the Boom Team has noticed over the past year.

1. “Real Picture” choice cards

It seems that teachers and students would like to see decks using real photography more often. These requests have come for a variety of topics and subjects. If you’re handy with a lens, you can take your own photos, or you can seek out professional ones – just make sure your aware of copyright and use restrictions.

2. Reading Comprehension

Educators are looking for questions about stories or books. These could include stories your create followed by comprehension questions or questions based on established work, but be careful of copyright restrictions in the later case.

3. Emergent Reader Guides

There have not been enough emergent guided reading stories in Boom Cards to satisfy educators. These decks would have dots for each word to help students track, as well as sounded out words, pictures, and other audible or visual cues. They’d also like the decks to have comprehension questions, and to be leveled ideally.

4. Life Skills

Requests for these range from doing the laundry or shopping to tackling bills and budgeting. The goals can range from helping students build basic life skills to preparing teenagers for the real world after graduation.

5. Science, Geography, and Social Studies

There are a variety of sciences to choose from, but not a lot of quality decks on those topics in the Boom Store. Similarly, Social Studies and Geography have far fewer quality choices than most subjects.

6. Upper Grades

There are lots of decks in the Boom Store for Pre-K, Kindergarten, and 1st-3rd grade, but this has left secondary teachers struggling to find decks for 6th-12th grade.

7. Phonemes

We’ve heard requests for decks that use simple de-codeable sentences or short passages that contain 3-4 of the common spellings for a phonemes.

For example: ‘AY’ and ‘ai’ as well as ‘a_e,’ ‘ey,’ and ‘ea’ in the same passage.

8. Timely Themes

While many people include seasonally appropriate themes and backgrounds or create decks of Boom Cards centered around major holidays, far fewer acknowledge themes such as National Nutrition Month (March). Topics range from Poetry to Bullying Prevention and can be great inspiration.

Here’s a few to get your started:

  • February: 100th Day of School
  • March: National Nutrition Month/National Crafts Month and Read Across America Day
  • April: Poetry Month
  • May: Physical Fitness Month
  • August/September: Back to School
  • October: Bullying Prevention Month

9. Languages (other than English)

Decks that either teach languages other than English or which are translated into other languages are also in demand. Spanish and French are classic, and commonly requested, options of course. American Sign Language, German, Japanese, Italian, and Chinese are also all in demand though.

10. Social and Emotional Wellness

It’s not hard to work out why this was highly requested, and there’s no reason to think the demand will dry up next year. Decks cover coping skills for stress, build emotional intelligence, or address bullying are all popular requests. In general though, you can’t go wrong providing decks on any topic the helps a student navigate their social and emotional landscapes.

Final Thoughts

One final insight we can share: there is a real push for more representation across the board these days.

Decks of Boom Cards that show characters from a variety of backgrounds and in every shade of the human experience are growing more and more popular.

Creating decks for Black History Month (February), Women’s History Month (March), or Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (May) are a great start, but more representation won’t go amiss any time of the year. Just be sure to do your research so you can ensure accurate and fair representation of lesser known historical events and cultures other than your own. Bonus: the more research you do, the more inspiration you’ll find along the way.

Share any insights or fun facts you’ve uncovered in the comments below, or join our Boom Sellers group on Facebook to give and get tips, tricks, and ideas with fellow Boom Card Authors.

If you haven’t started selling your Boom Cards yet, check our our Quick Start Guide for Authors to kickstart your store on Boom Learning.

Happy Booming!

Blue bar with Boom name and homepage URL: www.boomlearning.com
Featured

New Year, New Team

Here at Boom Learning, we’ve had a shockingly busy Spring and Summer as schools have had to make tough decisions and get creative about how they handled teaching. Many adopted Boom Learning as they explored new techniques and tools for teaching students remotely as well as in classrooms. This has been both exciting and overwhelming at times for everyone involved – the teachers, their students, and the Boom Team.

Behind the scenes at Boom Learning, we’ve had to expand our team again and again this year in order to keep up with all the new accounts as well as the flood of questions and ideas coming our way daily. That new team has settled throughout the last half of 2020, and we thought now would be the perfect time to introduce the new faces on the other side of the screen.

In the beginning there was only Mary and Eric with Joe supporting them here and there as they tackled everything from setting up a company, creating the code that brings Boom Cards to life, and helping teachers both access and use Boom Cards and get the most from our platform.

Mary Heuett Oemig (pronouns: she/her) is Boom’s Co-Founder and President, and the one who makes it all happen; which makes her the big boss, “except I’m really petite” she admits. A small town girl, she started off in Potlatch, Idaho before living for a while in Phoenix, Arizona and then the Bay Area, and now she’s landed in Kirkland, Washington. She’s often heard advising the team to “go slow to go fast,” and has an incredible ability to just get stuff done. Before co-founding Boom Learning, “I was a serious copyright law junkie. Not merely an attorney, but someone who could cite obscure cases by title,” and when she was only a second-year attorney, she wrote the defense briefs for the first major case addressing the application of copyright law to peer-to-peer file-sharing (A&M Records v Napster), so it’s safe to say she knows her stuff when it comes to copyright laws. Mary is also “an unrepentant maker” who spends her time away from Boom sewing, knitting, crocheting, baking, cooking, dancing, and traveling when she’s not reading a good book.

Eric Oemig (pronouns: he prefers “lord” though most of us use he/him) is of course a Co-Founder of Boom, but it may be more accurate to refer to him as “Code Master.” Boom was born from a combination of dreams and engineering, and millions of Boom Cards keep playing thanks to his late nights tending that code. Eric believes that “how you do one thing is how you do everything,” and can often be heard advising the team to “do the right thing.” This guiding principle is behind the decisions he’s made on everything from customer care to coding. Eric’s roots are in small-town America – he made his way west from Wisconsin to Kirkland, Washington. Outside of keeping Boom working, he spends his time drumming and writing poetry. You probably wouldn’t guess it, but he’s a secular vegan who can walk on his hands (not while eating of course!).

Joe Coffey (pronouns: he/him or just “Joe” is acceptable) started supporting Mary and Eric in 2016; today he acts as Boom’s Chief Finance Officer primarily. Joe hails from Los Angeles, CA, but lives in Ballard, Washington now and believes that “seeing the humor in life is as important as any other skill,” which the team benefits from frequently as he brings life and laughter into any (digital) room. When he’s not wearing one of his many Boom Learning hats, you can find him out hiking, sailing, or generally exploring the world, and he dreams of living in another country for a few months. In his previous life, Joe was a test driver for BMW AG (R&D), and in this life, has the words “the end is nothing, the road is all” taped up on his wall.

In the Spring it became apparent that there were not enough hands on deck. Kyle, Zack, and Jasmine joined the team.

Jasmine Dinh (pronouns: she/her) started providing technical support to Boom’s customers on April 1st of 2020 and quickly became our top tech support expert – no fooling. If she can’t identify and resolve the issue, it’s a problem only Eric’s coding can resolve. Jasmine has moved around the world a bit, and her parents live in Tacoma WA, but she is from Vietnam originally and currently lives in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. Her motto, “carpe diem,” keeps her both dreaming and doing; one day she hopes to become a helicopter pilot. She’s got a good start on this goal too, because Jasmine has notable pen spinning skills. If you take the time to get to know her, you might notice that “I eat a lot,” she confesses, but you’ll also come to see the cheerful lady beneath the savvy technical support expert.

Kyle Savchuck (pronouns: he/him) came to the rescue in April of 2020 to help tackle customer questions and account setup and soon after was appointed a Customer Service Manager. Kyle started off in Wisconsin before moving to Seattle. He’s always been a good negotiator, which serves him well on the Boom Team, and is frequently heard exclaiming “Nice!” When he’s not on the clock, he’s probably deeply immersed in a Dungeons & Dragons game, but he also spends time at his desk writing or heads outside to do some hiking or gardening.

Zack Beyer (pronouns: he/him) started as a Software Wizard, assisting Eric, on May 18th, 2020, and can often be heard saying “Groovy” both on and off the job. A transplant, he started life off in Evansville and then Madison, Wisconsin, but today Zach lives in Seattle, Washington – where his skills at coding and diplomacy serve him and the Boom Team well, and one day will hopefully land him in Game Design. Now this isn’t common knowledge, but when pressed, Zach admits, “I don’t actually like the color orange….” Fun fact about Zach, this is his second tour of duty at Boom Learning – he worked with us in 2012-2013 on the prototype of what then became Boom Learning as well as the Mathtopia family of iOS games.

As more and more teachers heard about Boom, we continued to struggle, and it stung. We pride ourselves on collaborating with our users, and yet we could barely keep up with basic questions and new orders let alone improve the platform.

Over the summer we went looking for help as it became apparent that Boom was really exploding in popularity.

Tu Duong (pronouns: she/her) has been providing Customer Support and assisting with Sales since June 25th of 2020. Born in Saigon, she has lived in Minnesota, Texas, California, Germany, Oregon, Singapore, and now she’s landed in Seattle although “Portland will always be home.” Tu makes a mean Vietnamese spring roll, and loves traveling whenever she can. She’s even trekked to Everest Base Camp, though she says “once is good enough.” Beyond enjoying the exploration, Tu’s travels have inspired her. One day, she’d like to create a non-profit for children in Third World countries. “Throughout my travels, I saw myself in so many people I met. And I wonder what their lives would be like if they had the opportunities I did.” She dreams of giving them access to higher education one day, and she brings that passion for helping others access education to work every day at Boom Learning in the meantime. She believes that you CAN teach an old dog new tricks, and is constantly pushing herself and her team to learn and grow.

Hazel McNees (pronouns: she/her) joined the Boom team to provide Spanish Translation in July of 2020, and leads our new FAQ team to ensure customers have access to accurate and helpful information whenever they need it in both English and Spanish. She is originally from Costa Rica, but lived in Idaho as a certified structure and wildlife fire fighter (BTW she’s shorter than Mary) for several years and also lived in Indiana for some time. These days, Hazel lives in Florida – where she enjoys a beautiful view of the beach which inspires envy in during digital team meetings. She has an amazing ability to make healthy food taste great, and makes the best margaritas. When she’s not working, or mixing it up in the kitchen, you can find Hazel running, racing, hiking, or out enjoying that beach and generally living up to her motto: “Pura Vida” a Costa Rican motto which translates literally to “Pure Life” and with more context as “Life is Awesome.”

Brittany Burkhardt (pronouns: she/her) On July 27th of 2020, from Nordstrom and brought her fashion. Brittany joined Boom Learning’s Customer Support team, but these days she’s also supporting the President with legal and other matters much of the time. She currently lives in Seattle and has an enviable view of the Space Needle, but she started off in Poulsbo, Washington. When she’s not hard at work, frequently putting in overtime into the evening, she’s likely settling down with a good book while one of her favorite jazz records plays. She’s a fantastic cook and has a talent for music. She used to play both the flute and the piano, and “in high school I was in all of the auditioned choir groups. One year, we went to NYC to sign at Carnegie Hall for Easter!” While she’s an undeniable go-getter, Brittany balances that fire out with a laid back “it is what it is” attitude and never misses a chance to laugh or share stories with the rest of the team.

Quinn Redfield (pronouns: they/he/them/him) started at Boom Learning on August 8th, 2020 ready to put their natural teaching skills to work providing customer support, but soon after began juggling HR, Marketing, and community engagement as well. Quinn admits, “I think best with a pen in my hand; if I’m not writing, I’m probably not paying attention,” and is often the designated note taker in meetings as a result. An Eastern Washington native, they were born in Chelan, grew up in Tonasket and the Spokane area, and then moved to the Seattle area “for the weather; I prefer it 52 degrees and grey or raining.” Most of his down time is spent writing fiction or with the small petting zoo they share their Everett home with, but he can also be found reading, playing Dungeons and Dragons, or out camping, road tripping, and traveling abroad whenever possible – all with a camera at the ready. A renaissance man of sorts, Quinn is also something of an amateur historian and theologian who strives to exercise both curiosity and empathy at all times.

Shortly after starting at Boom Learning, Quinn pulled together an onboarding program as the Boom Team strapped in for more expansion to tackle the flood of customer questions and the unexpected mass renewals by all those who had tried Boom Learning out using our COVID Promo. Meanwhile, new sales were mounting as the new school year started; we needed more help to give teachers and whole schools set up with the new accounts they wanted.

Erick Velasquez (pronouns: he/him) jumped into Sales and Customer Service on September 10th, 2020. A Californian, he was born in Burbank, Erick currently lives in Auburn, Washington and enjoys traveling specifically to soak up other cultures. “I am a Yes Man,” he admits and adds that when he travels “I will ALWAYS try something at least once.” It is, after all, “extremely rude to turn down food in most cultures.” Perhaps his favorite food though would be sushi. He also loves to make others laugh. “I am a slow burn, so I’ll eventually make you laugh.” He’s also inspirational, and lives by the words of Wilson Fisk (aka the Kingpin of NYC): “Problems. Just opportunities that haven’t presented themselves.” Erick will work out a way to tackle any problem, and he keeps the team cheerful in the process.

Jorge Riera (pronouns: he/him) joined Boom Learning’s Customer Wizards on September 24th, 2020 and has loved every day since. He was born and raised in beautiful Puerto Rico, but has lived all over (first as an Army Brat and now as an Army Reservist), and he has a special place in his heart for New York as well. You’d probably never guess it looking at him (he was a childhood model), but Jorge confesses: “I love crocs!” Between helping customers and assisting with marketing and technical projects, Jorge enjoys simply “making memories with friends and family.” His endearing charm, relaxed “if it happened, it had to happen” attitude, and easy humor has made him fast friends with the rest of the Boom Team. Jorge also genuinely connects with the customers he assists; no wonder he gets complimented on his interpersonal skills.

With all these wonderful new additions, we thought for a moment that we might finally have enough hands on deck to keep up with the incoming requests. Unfortunately, by the time this new group was up and running efficiently, we had a backlog of customer requests that seemed impossible to recover from. Since we were already all working overtime, we decided to keep hiring through the Autumn.

Christine Choate (pronouns: they/she/her/them). On October 15th of 2020, we welcomed Christine to Boom Learning. She hails from “the itty-bitty town of Kalispell, Montana,” but the whole family moved to Puyallup, Washington when Christine was just about five years old. These days, she lives with her partner in Tacoma, Washington. An “avid PC gamer,” Christine spends their free time gaming, streaming, or watching other streamers on Twitch, so it’s safe to say they are a bit of a tech nerd, but you might not guess that Christine is also “a HUGE theatre nerd. I love participating in shows both onstage and behind the scenes. Theatre is pretty much my life, and I’ll be doing it as long as I can!” When they want to take a break from the screens and can’t get on the stage, they also enjoy sewing and crocheting. One of their favorite podcasts (“Welcome to Night Vale”) gifted them this gem of a quote to live by: “Be proud of your place in the cosmos. It is small, and yet, it is.” She is also extremely skilled at selecting the perfect size of Tupperware container for leftovers. “I have no idea how I acquired this skill,” Christine admits, “but it’s quite useful when cleaning up after large meals!” Cleaning up at work also seems to be a skill, as Christine now tackles customer questions as they come in as well as before they’ve been asked: they’ve joined the FAQ team and turn out helpful and well written content regularly.

Elizabeth Yates (pronouns: she/her) came from Nevada originally, but has lived in Washington for most of her life, and joined the Boom Team on October 15th, 2020 to assist with customer care. She excelled, almost immediately, and diving into our backlog and connecting with customers who had been waiting for us to catch our breath or lost in the chaos. Truly living up to her own words, Elizabeth is “making things happen!” She’s always looking for new ways to tackle a problem and loves coming up with out of the box ideas she can then turn into real solutions. “I’m a jack of all trades, and I love learning new things.” She used to play the Trumpet and French Horn, and these days you can catch her dabbling with the Guitar and Piano or studying Portuguese – since she’s already got down some basic Spanish and French. Elizabeth also loves sewing and costuming. She also spends her free time playing board games with her family.

Justice Amsbury (pronouns: they/he/them/him) works their Customer Wizard magic from Spokane, Washington, but original comes from the lesser known eastern Washington town of Ephrata. He works with a quiet humility to sort out tough tech support questions and answer customer questions. Behind the soft spoken words, a determined, genius guides Justice from questions to answers and problems to solutions. Outside of work, music fills their time. “Growing up, I played the flute.” Justice explains, “I wasn’t very good at it.” The instrument was wrong, but music itself became a passion. Today, Justice plays the bass and guitar, and one day he’d like to form a band. Recently, they adopted an adorable kitten who spends her time warming Justice’s chair any time he leaves it empty for more than a second and making guest appearances in digital team meetings.

Within the month, these three were up and running strong. We knew even with their amazingly fast grasp of the task at hand that we’d need at least a few more folks to lighten the load though. The very next month, we added to the team once more.

Josiah Spray (pronouns: he/him) started supporting customers on November 17th, 2020. A Montana native, he lives in Seattle now and spends his free time playing Dungeons and Dragons and enjoying musical theatre such as Hamilton – which he has inadvertently learned nearly all the words to. In many ways he is a self-made man who lives by these words: “I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” He amuses the team with his vocal impressions, and can capture various Muppets and celebrities with amazing skill. He also has a talent for music and reveals that when he was younger, “I played the viola in the symphony.”

Yanichelle Rosado (pronouns: she/her; pronunciation: Jah-nee-chel) is a former teacher who used Boom Cards with her students before becoming a Customer Wizard on November 19th of 2020. Now, she helps teachers get the most out of Boom Learning, and her teacher’s perspective helps us better understand and improve the experience every day. Yanichelle believes that “everything in life has a purpose,” and relies on her can-do creativity and DIYing skills to create solutions from needs. She also has a knack for maps that makes her an excellent travel planner which will come in handy one day, because Yani dreams of living all over the world, “for at least one year.” New York is near the top of that list, but she calls Puerto Rico home. There, she enjoys spending quality time with her family and friends. She admits that despite her petite appearance, “I eat like an elephant,” but it’s easy to see how her big, beautiful smile and contagious cheer brightens every meeting.

We also brought on more help for some behind the scenes work in legal and development.

Lillith Leonard (pronouns: she/her) joined Boom as a paralegal on November 19th of 2020. She’s a Washington native from Walla Walla who moved to Sumner, Washington “to marry my lifelong love.” Her ultimate goal is to help human trafficking victims. Lillith is exceptionally good at taking apart information and explaining it so that a layperson can understand and learn from it, making her a natural teacher and thus a natural fit for our work supporting education. This combined with her ability to shrug off adversity and remember “I’ll live” in the face of stress keeps her tackling the tough, legal workload she tackles daily. She’s got a fun side too. “I once played a singing tree and the tornado in the Walla Walla Summer Theater production of the Wizard of Oz.” Her fondest memory from that production? “I got to throw apples at the Scarecrow.”

Zachary Foutz (pronouns: he/him) joined Boom Learning’s Dev Team as a Software Alchemist on November 19th, 2020, and has been working on improving the customer experience in small but impactful ways every day. “I love optimizing web apps and focusing on the tiniest of details,” he says. His coding has been complimented as “unparalleled,” and we’re thrilled to have him improving Boom Learning’s student sign-in and classroom functionality. You’ll have him to thank for the improved functionality some new features (including new student logins) as well as the new look on the invoices. An Iowa native and widowed father, Zachary lives in Bremerton Washington now where he is raising his charming 6 year old boy son. In his free time, Zachary is a gamer who sometimes creates text based games and one day hopes to break into game design. He takes inspiration from Nikola Tesla’s words: “The present is theirs; the future, for which I really worked, is mine.”

While we’re continuing to look at expanding, especially on the Dev Team, we are finally catching our breath after the immense growing pains of the Spring and Summer. Some of you have already noticed that our response times are back to where they should be, and we’ve managed to catch up with the bulk of those customers who slipped through the cracks during the heights of chaos.

This week and next, we will all be taking a much needed breather with a brief break, and in generally, we’re looking ahead to 2021 with a lot more confidence and excitement. We finally feel like we’ve got enough hands to cover our bases and get back to what we love: connecting with the Boom Community to provide not only support for teachers and schools using Boom daily, but also to collaborate with you all on ways to make Boom Cards better for the teachers and students who count on them.

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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

Featured

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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How to Use Boom Cards for Speech Therapy

To find out how Boom Cards can enhance Speech Therapy sessions, we team up with Shannon Archer for a webinar to discuss How to Use Boom Learning for Speech Therapy. She shares her insights and demonstrates how teachers can use Boom decks to build on their students’ speech skills.

DID YOU KNOW? 
Boom Cards are used for Speech Therapy more than any other subject!
Boom Learning Card
Shannon uses Boom Cards to make lessons more engaging.

Shannon Archer is a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) with more than 14 years of experience. She is currently a Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) and Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AT/AAC) Specialist with the Coronado Unified School District in California, and she works with preschool and transition-aged students in her private practice. 

In this webinar, Shannon explains how to use Boom Cards, either as a main activity or as a reinforcer. She explores different techniques for working one-on-one with students, and she also talks about how to engage with targeted or mixed groups effectively. 

Shannon leverages Boom to address learning goals related to:

  • Articulation/CAS
  • Language
  • Pragmatics
  • AAC
  • Fluency

She gives great examples of ways to use Boom cards with students in one-on-one lessons. In one case, she talks about working with a student who was using an eye gaze device. She describes turning off the student’s mouse control as a way to encourage her student to drive the content lesson through the use of language skills. In this example, the Boom deck allowed Shannon to ask questions and engage in conversation about the items onscreen. With Boom Cards, it’s easy to pick the perfect deck for an individual student’s interests and needs. 

For another one-on-one session, Shannon used a combination of toys and Boom Cards to teach prepositions. To start, she demonstrated with toys in real life, and then she reinforced those ideas with interactive activities. Shannon shows us how Boom Cards work to teach students across a variety of settings, including in teletherapy and distance learning sessions, as well as in-person sessions at a clinic, learning center, home, or school. 

Over the course of the webinar, she provides examples to illustrate her techniques as well as tips for using Boom for practice and instruction. Her talk is chock-full of great suggestions.

To hear all of Shannon’s ideas and insights, hit play on How to Use Boom Learning for Speech Therapy. You can also check out webinarshow-to videos, and more on our YouTube channel.

Shannon Archer
Chewy the dog
Chewy

Shannon Archer, M.S., is a speech-language pathologist and the creator and owner of A Gift of Speech. When she’s not teaching or creating digital resources for her fellow educators, Shannon works with “Chewy” as the human member of a therapy dog team. To learn more about her (and see more pictures of Chewy) check out her Instagram.

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.