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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).

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 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.

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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.

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.

Slide2

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?

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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.

Google Proves What Teachers Have Been Saying for Years – And You’ll Never Believe What It Says

You already have the skills to future-ready your students for the world of tomorrow, but you may not realize it.

In the future, robots will take over most rule-driven jobs, such as driving, assembly, and more. At the same time, the knowledge for many fields will rapidly become obsolete. Your students are growing up in a world where the new normal is gig work: short-term, part-time, on-demand, with rapidly changing knowledge demands.

Dynamic Technology Solutions

We talk about the need for hard STEM skills as the key to making our students future-ready, but research from inside Google tells us a more subtle story. [Hint–you don’t have to love math or science to make your students future-ready.]

“Project Oxygen shocked everyone by concluding that, among the eight most important qualities of Google’s top employees, STEM expertise comes in dead last. The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills: being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas.” Cathy N. Davidson, in Valerie Strausss, “The surprising thing Google learned about its employees – and what it means for today’s students”, Washington Post, Dec. 20, 2017.

A more recent study by Google shows that its most successful teams are marked by

“equality, generosity, curiosity toward the ideas of your teammates, empathy, and emotional intelligence. And topping the list: emotional safety. No bullying. To succeed, each and every team member must feel confident speaking up and making mistakes. They must know they are being heard.” Cathy Davidson.

Who has these skills?

Teachers.

Standards matter for your own job security, but to make your students future-ready, deliver those standards in ways that:

  • develop team conversational skills—the ability to share ideas with courtesy, receive feedback with grace and understanding, and navigate to solutions;
  • encourage risk-taking—including finding the inner strength to recover from errors and being able to admit to others what you don’t know;
  • teach students to learn how to learn—making sure every student has a fundamental reserve of grit to tackle the unfamiliar and difficult (for advanced students, pushing them to where their brain hurts a bit when learning).

Any student who gives up easily, who avoids work when it gets hard, who gets embarrassed by mistakes, who fears looking bad, or who bullies others is an at-risk student when it comes to being future-ready. Research is telling us what teachers have always known, social skills matter for success.

So go out there and use your superpowers to future-ready your students.

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.