Putting the BOOM into Differentiation

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

by Belinda Givens of BVG SLP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Secondary Science Tech Talk

Today we are talking with Amy Brown Science, The Lab (Liezel), and Kristin Lee Resources about combining technology with hands-on science instruction in secondary. Science teaching resources are among Boom Cards top sellers!

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What is your favorite part about teaching science in secondary?

Kristin: The best part about teaching middle school is seeing how much growth there can be in such a short time. They come to you a little unsure about themselves and what this new experience will hold for them – and you get to watch them grow more confident and sassy every day! They grow into these funny, independent, whole people right in front of you. Teaching them science is amazing because you can see it absolutely ignite some of them, the way it did for me back then.

Liezel: One thing that I love about teaching high school is being able to go into more detail in the lessons. High school students are amazing to work with. My students are mature, motivated and hard working. They love to really explore the topic we are studying and always come and share examples and stories that they have found.

Amy: I have always been a high school teacher of mostly juniors and seniors. I love teaching this age group because they are at a point in their lives where anything is possible. They act all grown up and so sure of themselves, but they still love a compliment, a smile, and a hug just like they did in Kindergarten! Juniors and seniors suddenly realize they have decisions to make about universities and majors, and that they will soon be on their own. It is an honor to help guide them through these times of their lives.

Science is such a hands-on field. How do you incorporate virtual learning into your teaching without losing the hands-on aspect?

Amy: I am by far the oldest in this conversation. As a result, I have seen many strategies come and go over the years. An effective teacher does not use one strategy exclusively. Teaching requires an arsenal of techniques and tools, and multiple ways of implementing them. Virtual learning is just one more tool in my teaching arsenal. My students are in the lab at least once, but usually twice, a week. Nothing will ever replace the hands-on labs I do with my students. Virtual learning gives me another way to teach, review and reinforce the concepts I already teach.

Kristin: Like Amy said, it’s important not to rely on a single teaching tool too heavily. The more tools you can use to build knowledge on a topic, the more multi-faceted your teaching will be. Technology has opened up avenues of learning I hadn’t thought were possible! It will become increasingly important as our students come to us more tech-savvy and connected than ever – just not as a replacement for a hands-on lab experiment, dissection, or engineering challenge.

Liezel: I teach in a very small school (only 19 high school students) so it is not always possible to do practical work for all topics due to limited resources. Virtual labs, etc. are crucial to overcoming this problem.

What are some of the ways you have used Boom Cards decks with your students?

Liezel: I mainly use them for review work before exams. My students are currently busy with their Cambridge exams and Boom Cards decks are perfect for them to go through topics at home, identify problems and then come to me for help. They are now sending me requests for decks that they want!

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Amy: One thing I love about Boom Cards decks is that I can assign them for homework. Students hate homework, and many of them never complete it. Students like the idea of virtual homework because they are already on their mobile devices anyway, and it is a unique way of assigning homework.

Kristin: I’m not currently in the classroom, I’m home with my young son. But until I get back, I am really excited to start using Boom Cards decks with my tutoring students! They are great for test prep and review, to assess prior knowledge, and to gauge the effectiveness of my tutoring. I also include them in nearly all of my middle school science units to serve several different functions; some reinforce science vocabulary, some assess concept comprehension, and I’m even working on some that will deliver content in a student-led capacity. There are so many possibilities!

What is the most exciting thing that ever happened to you in a science classroom?

Amy Brown: My high school and another high school a few miles away are big rivals. We have a competition between the two schools called “Battle of the Brains.” Students are required to identify an ecological problem and develop a possible solution to the problem. My proudest moments as a teacher is seeing the amazing ideas that come from my students. They believe that anything is possible!

Liezel: I will never forget the day that my science teacher showed us the properties of alkali metals. He took a big piece of potassium and threw it into a pond. From an ecological point of view, probably not a good idea, but it made for an awesome chemistry lesson!

Kristin: My first year teaching was in 8th grade science. Eighth-grade students, in particular, presented lots of challenges on top of first-year teaching struggles. Their time and focus are being pulled in many different directions as they prepared for a big transition to high school. I wasn’t feeling like a particularly effective teacher by the end of the year, but I returned from the graduation ceremony to find a note on my desk. A student wanted me to know what a great year she’d had, and how she felt empowered to pursue a career in the STEM field. I always hope I’ll run into her one day so I can tell her that she empowered me and maybe the reason I didn’t quit teaching after that first year! I’d love an update on how she’s doing.

Get started with Boom Cards self-grading homework by trying a science FREEBIE today!

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Amy Brown resides in Tennessee. She is married to her husband of 35 years and has two incredible daughters. Amy loves nature, the environment, and tries to spend as much time as possible outdoors. She loves to travel with her family to national parks and other outdoor locations, trips which her family lovingly refer to as “Mom Adventures.” Amy has 31 years of teaching experience in the biology and chemistry classrooms. She joined Teachers Pay Teachers as a teacher-author in 2006, shortly after the site was launched. She recently started making interactive Boom Cards products. Amy’s hands-on approach to teaching science instills a love of science and nature in her students and encourages them to make science a part of their everyday lives. In Amy’s words, “I just love to get kids hooked on science!” For more teaching tips and ideas about how to make science come alive in your classroom, visit Amy on her blog, AmyBrownScience.com. You can also keep up with Amy’s activities on PinterestFacebook, and Instagram.

Kristin Lee combines creativity and scientific literacy to craft classroom materials to support students and teachers in their science classrooms. Prior to launching her online teacher-author business, she spent many years working in education outside of Chicago, IL. When not creating new ways to get kids hooked on science, Kristin enjoys playing with her young son, technology, and other wibbly wobbly timey-wimey stuff. You can find her on Boom LearningTeachersPayTeachers, Pinterest, Instagram, and her website KristinLeeResources.com.

Liezel Pienaar lives in Somerset West, South Africa. It is about 40 km from Cape Town. Shee has a degree in Biochemistry and have been teaching for 15 years. She met er husband while they were both working in the UK. They have a 5-year-old daughter, Maja, and a Jack Russell Terrier named Milo. She teaches Biology, Chemistry, Geography, and Maths at a Montessori school situated on a wine estate! It is one of the most beautiful places in the world, with the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other. Her husband is the Facilities Manager and my daughter attends the pre-school. “It is amazing to all come to the same place every day.” Liezel authors science resources as The Lab on Boom Learning and Teachers Pay Teachers. You can follow her on Instagram (@thelab_by_liezelpienaar), Facebook and in her newsletter.

Meet the Author: Line upon Line Learning

“A great piece of literature does not try to coerce you. … A great piece of literature simply is.” Madeleine L’Engle

Rebecca Reid is one of the early adopters of Boom Cards. Given her background, it is not a surprise that she has been an invaluable source of feedback as we’ve built Boom Learning.

Rebecca has a B.A. in English with a focus on editing. She loves finding and fixing errors. She also loves writing and language arts. She blogs at Hands-On Homeschooling and Line upon Line Learning. She loves to read and review books. Her favorites are Victorian literature. Now with three kids and less leisure time, she also watches period dramas, like Downton Abbey.

Like Mrs. Shipley, Rebecca came accidentally to teaching. She taught and worked as a writing tutor throughout her college years. When her oldest was ready to enter kindergarten, homeschooling seemed the best option for him. He is now in fourth grade and she has a second child entering kindergarten next year.

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Rebecca’s stores on Boom Learning and Teachers Pay Teachers have evolved with her children’s needs. On Teachers Pay Teachers she has worksheets and games. Her son still loves to play one of the first games she made, about Marco Polo.

With her oldest now in fourth grade, Rebecca finds that technology is playing a greater role in homeschooling. She’s been adapting her worksheets and learning materials for Boom Learning, which lets them take learning on the go. She loves how Boom Learning “lets me put my kids in the driver’s seat.”

She created her CVC Reading Practice to correlate with the hands-on practice in her CVC bundle available at Teachers Pay Teachers. With the bundle, students practice forming the words using letter tiles, as well as other hands-on activities. Her Boom Cards allow them to take those same words and practice reading them and finding the pictures that match.

With homeschooling, each year is a completely new grade level. Add in asynchronous learners working at multiple grade levels, and it can feel overwhelming. Rebecca advises: “Just remember that your students don’t learn everything in one day, one week, or even one year. It is a long process and you just take it one step at a time too!”

Rebecca is from and and now lives in Chicago. She has lived in Australia for a year and in each of Bolivia and Jerusalem for two months.

Featured

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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Boom Learning

Interactive Teaching Resources

Teachers have always shared resources, now more than ever. Sharing provides teachers with unprecedented access to lessons they can download and print for classroom use. Schools that have invested are asking teachers to print less and use devices more. Boom Learning bridges the gap between school and teacher needs.

“Boom allows teachers to access a growing and varied collection of teacher-created content for those devices, or to create their own” says Boom advisor and former teacher Rachel Lynette. Like familiar printables markets, Teachers can sell what they make, augmenting their pay.

Boom Learning’s tools allow teachers to create and deploy classroom-ready resource in less than an hour. For students with unique needs, “It provides a tool to make customized decks,” says Della Larsen.

“Boom Learning is really a win-win for everyone. Teachers save time, paper, ink, and other resources. Students interact with educational content in a meaningful and motivating way,” says Lynette.

Boom Learning has exceeded Lynette’s expectations: “Boom allows teachers to unleash their design talent. I love how teachers are finding new ways to use the tools, and how the platform is evolving with their suggestions.”

Boom Learning makes a teacher’s job easier. According to Secondary Science Teacher-Author Kristin Lee, “Boom Learning provides a level of reporting, differentiating, and self-grading that has the potential to save a teacher hours of data organizing.”

About Boom Learning

Founded in 2012, Boom Learning develops educational apps and games, including Mathtopia+, which regularly ranks among the top 50 downloaded game in the United States for kids ages 9-11, one of less than 50 apps to receive a 5-star rating on Smart Apps for Kids, and winner of the Children’s Technology Review’s Editor’s Choice Award for 2013. Boom Learning was formerly known as Omega Labs Inc. Boom Learning is launching its latest contribution to the education market this fall with its Boom Cards apps and Boom Learning platform and marketplace, which give teachers the tools they need to share interactive teacher resources in schools with 1:1 devices.

The Boom Learning product was born from the serendipitous meeting of three people on a mission. Senator Eric Oemig, a master coder with a passion for education technology, wanted to build a mobile platform that would become an integral part of the classroom. Mary Heuett Oemig, an attorney and educator, wanted to build something that would meet each student where he or she was. Rachel Lynette, founder of Minds in Bloom and author of more than 120 non-fiction children’s books, wanted to turn the task cards she created for Teachers Pay Teachers® into apps.

#‎boomlearning‪#‎backtoschool‪#‎teachermade,‪#‎interactivelearning‪#‎paperless

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