Boom Learning wins Academics’ Choice Award for Mind-Building Excellence

Kirkland, WA November 26, 2017

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Boom Learning Inc. is pleased to announce that Boom Cards has been honored with the Academic’s Choice Award, a prestigious seal of educational quality, reserved only for the best mind-building media and toys. The independent Academics’ Choice Awards program and its seal of excellence are recognized worldwide by consumers and educational institutions as a mark of genuinely effective learning tools that stimulate the mind, and provide the potential for the student to fully develop higher order thinking skills.

The Academics’ Choice Advisory Board consists of leading thinkers and graduates from Princeton, Harvard, George Washington University, and other reputable educational institutions. Product-appropriate volunteer reviewers, combined with the brainpower of the Board, determine the coveted winners. Entries are judged by category (i.e. mobile app, toy, book, website, magazine, etc.), subject area, and grade level, and evaluated based on standardized criteria rooted in constructivist learning theory. The full list of winners is posted online at http://www.AcademicsChoice.com.

cropped-boom2001.pngAcademics’ Choice Awards Reviewers had a lot to say about Boom Cards.

This is a fantastic resource that I hope homeschooling parents and teachers will take advantage of! Boom Cards is the “Teachers Pay Teachers” of learning apps!

Reviewers were taken by the variety, interactivity, game-play and ease of use:

I love that learning is presented in a FUN and interactive way. Kids learn so well through game-play. The site was easy to use, and I appreciated being able to search both by subject AND grade level – allowing me to narrow down the decks available to those that were age-appropriate for my kids. I appreciate that there are both free and “for profit” games available, allowing for a wider range of consumers to use and enjoy the product. While I didn’t create any decks, I love the option to do so, and plan on utilizing that feature in the future.

The hundreds of submitted products that are not chosen by the Academics’ Choice Awards team (and many that are chosen) are donated to a variety of worthy charities and other organizations across the globe. About Academics’ Choice™: Academics’ Choice™ helps consumers find exceptional brain-boosting material. Academics’ Choice is the only international awards program designed to bring increased recognition to publishers, manufacturers, independent authors and developers that aim to stimulate cognitive development. A volunteer panel of product-appropriate judges, including parents, educators, scientists, artists, doctors, nurses, librarians, students and children, evaluate submissions based on educational benefits such as higher-order thinking skills, character building, creative play, durability and originality. Only the genuine “mind-builders” are recognized with the coveted Academics’ Choice Award™.

Boom Learning is the brainchild of Senator Eric Oemig and Mary Heuett Oemig. Its modern form resulted when a good friend introduced them to the extraordinary Rachel Lynette. Boom Learning puts the power of the digital revolution in the hands of teachers, data they need, tools they need, and freedom to innovate. Teachers personalize learning while saving time and money.

Combining Standards-Based Learning with Actionable Data for Differentiation

In our modern, highly mobile culture, standards give students a relatively uniform exposure to content when they move between states. Most states have adopted some form of standards derived from the Achieve American Diploma Project. Both the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and the Common Core State Standards have their roots in Achieve’s work.

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Whichever set of standards your state uses, a survey of high school graduates indicates that setting high expectations and pushing all students to take advanced coursework results in students feeling better prepared to face the challenges of work or college, whichever they choose after graduation.

The textbooks in your classroom may be everything you need for at-level work (or not). But, for your students who are ready to reach higher, or your students who need more repetitions, you’ll want to supplement. Boom Cards supplements, with their self-grading elements, give you actionable data so you know who is ready to move on, and who needs more practice.

Actionable Data

We talked about proficiency and mastery in this blog. The best-prepared students have not merely mastered the data, but are proficient: they can respond correctly, quickly, and without hesitation.

Watch and learn how to read Boom Cards reports to track progress towards mastery and proficiency.

Differentiating with Boom Cards Decks

Standards-based Boom Cards decks allow you to combine rich student reports with dialed up or dialed down content for specific standards. Here are just a few examples of how you might deploy Boom Cards for differentiation.

4th Grade Place Value 

I heart 4th Grade creates standards-based supplements for her classroom. She has materials aligned to third, fourth and fifth grade standards. When teaching place value you can use a combination of her decks to assess, practice, differentiate and intervene to get your students to proficiency. Here is a sample pathway through some of her materials for Numbers in Base Ten:

Place Value 1.png4.NBT.1 Identify Place Value

Students

  • identify the value of a specified digit,
  • determine how many times greater a number is,
  • practice with base ten.

Need more practice at level? Assign

For the student who needs to a slow start, revisit the prior year’s standards with

Students who show they’ve mastered 4.NBT.1 can be quickly moved on to 4.NBT.2 with Compare Numbers (using place value). You can use the deck for independent work or clustered groups.

English Language Art Language Standard 5: Vocabulary Acquisition and Use

WiqwJRzKqxDNZ8H5Z-Slide06.jpgUsing the search “CC.ELA.L.5” in the Boom Learning store provides a variety of materials spanning up through eighth grade. Many authors in the ELA area offer bundles that span the evolution of a standard across grade levels.

For example, Rachel Lynette’s Context Clues bundle spans third to sixth-grade levels. Students can move from one level to the next as they demonstrate mastery and proficiency.

Try a search or two to find materials you can use for your classroom.

Boom! Glorious Chaos Tamed

by Elizabeth Clarke, Poplin Elementary

The Differentiated Classroom

Highly Gifted Girl in SchoolA differentiated classroom is a remarkably busy place. Children can be seen working several different objectives and doing any number of activities: games, small groups, online activities; it runs the gamut. Somehow, a teacher keeps her thumb on all of it, keeping the work at a steady hum.

In addition to being a differentiated classroom, mine is also the gifted education room. I teach compacted math and above-grade level reading to identified-gifted fourth and fifth graders. All of my students have aptitude scores at or above the 90th percentile and achievement scores (generally on state tests) at or above the 93rd percentile in their area(s) of service.

So, yeah, in some ways my job is easier. My kids pick up concepts pretty quickly. Most of them like school because they’ve been successful with it. On the other hand, I’ve got a challenge because my standards reach across three grade levels and, like any other teacher’s class, I still have a range of learning speeds with a variety of kids’ issues. I differentiate because, my kids, despite being gifted, are still different from one another (… and what’s the point of having pull-out instruction if some are still sitting in class, bored because they’re waiting on others to get it?).

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Student playing Order of Operations-No Exponents by The Big Kids’ Hall

Teaching my math standards in a way that allows my sharpest kids to continue moving forward while not rushing my thoughtful-and-methodical (and quick to stress themselves out, because AIG kids have a real knack for that) students has been my biggest obstacle. I also need to know that the practice is appropriate for each child and whether he or she is actually succeeding with it. My highest fliers often feel pressure to keep up the appearance of knowing everything, and would rather do just about anything than ask for help, including being less than honest about their progress, looking for a way to cheat, or avoiding the work altogether.

Enter Boom Cards

As a 1:1 district, my students come to class equipped with Chromebooks. When my students finish a ‘level’ or grouped set of objectives, they complete a sheet that asks them to consider which of the activities they did during the level helped them best learn the content. Boom Cards regularly appears on those lists. I think they’re a game-changer.

Here’s why:

They can be assigned individually.

The obvious plus here is that I can assign different decks to different groups, but this feature also allows me to set practice for an individual who is missing a requisite skill or re-assign one that isn’t yet grasped on the down-low. A chunk of my kids, despite lots of talk about growth mindset and ‘my size fits me’ education, fear the perception of failure. I can set up a video lesson and a Boom Cards session for a kid and allow him or her to get caught up without drawing unwanted attention. Paper task cards mean I have to sit just with that child at my table and everyone can hear the conversation. Not cool.

They give my students – and me – instant feedback.

Self-grading Boom Cards let the kids know right away if they’re right or wrong. I can access a report showing progress, accuracy, and fluency with each skill for each child. Mine is a data-driven district, so this is a must for me.

Boom Cards are inexpensive.

Again, I teach across grade levels, so I’ve got a lot of standards. I can typically buy a set of Boom Cards for half of what a similar set of paper cards would cost, and that’s before I print and laminate. The wide variety of sellers offering Boom Cards means I can find quality resources whether I’m working with an elementary or a middle school objective.

I can make my own.

My district uses Singapore Math as its base curricula for AIG students. Singapore works with numbers and asks questions in a unique way, and it’s not easy to find supplemental work for that. Boom Cards’ studio lets me create decks that better prepare the kids for Singapore assessments. The process for building a deck is reasonably intuitive and well-explained through video tutorials.

The kids think they’re fun.

Okay, this one I don’t get, since they really are task cards, which aren’t my students’ favorite activity. Somehow, though, the little ‘you got it right’ bell and watching their progress through the set turns it into something else.

They can be done from home.

Yes, ‘the gifted kid is an allergic wreck’ idea is a stereotype, but it may be a true one.* Fall and spring allergy seasons seem to hit my class harder than others’, and my parents are pleased that this is one way they can keep their children on track.

Adding Boom Cards to my classroom routine has allowed easier, more effective differentiation for my students. Better yet, they have made it simple to meet the quirky nature of my students without sending me to the poor(er) house. My classroom hums along nicely, which means I can too.


*Karpinski, Ruth I., et al. “High Intelligence: A Risk Factor for Psychological and Physiological Overexcitabilities.” Intelligence, 2017, doi:http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160289616303324.