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.

Featured

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.

Algebraic Thinking with Boom Cards

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

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

Did you know?

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

Introducing Algebraic Thinking, a pathway to success

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

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

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

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Resources for Deeper Investigation

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

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

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

Teachers ❤️ Boom Cards

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

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

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Resources for DIY Digital Task Cards

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

Using Boom Learning’s Content Creation Tools

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

Fonts, Clip Art, Borders and Backgrounds

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

Photographs

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

Free Sources on the Web

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

I Don’t Have Time for That!

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

The Full Meal Deal

Sometimes you just need to plug a hole in a curriculum you already have or mix it up, but sometimes you want the whole deal—everything to address a standard in one place. Today we are going to introduce you to some full meals that include Boom Cards.

Primary Listening Center Unit on Aesop’s Fables

digital bundlePaisley Owl Aespo's FablesThis complete digital bundle by The Paisley Owl includes 7 of Aesop’s Fables. Each deck is a self-contained full story study. Students can choose to read the story or have it read to them using the embedded narration. When students finish listening to or reading the story, they answer a series of questions (each with its own narration). Questions evaluate understanding of characters, setting, problems, solutions, and the ability to sequence the story’s events. Listening and reading centers have never been easier.

5th Grade Volume Complete Curriculum

Screenshot 2018-01-20 14.12.18Stress-Free Teaching brings you complete 5th-grade curriculum for Volume (available at Teachers Pay Teachers). Completely paperless, it includes interactive practice pages, Boom Cards decks, and Google Forms assessments. You can use all 5 resources to teach volume or pick and choose.

To learn how to assign Boom Cards decks through Google Classroom, or any LMS, watch our video:

Secondary French Resource for verbs conjugated with avoir and étre

Mme R’s French Resources offers a complete resource to teach, reinforce and assess regular and irregular French verbs conjugated with avoir and être. This bundle, available at Teachers Pay Teachers, includes notes and exercises, exit tickets, activities, games, Boom Cards and traditional task cards, and a trip to Paris (Powerpoint) project that can be used as a final assessment. Try a Boom Cards free sample for a taste:

Boom Cards free sample

French avoir or être - passé composé
French avoir or être – passé composé

 

Find something just right for your needs today.

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.

Give the Gift of Fundamentals: Why Sequencing is Critical

School breaks are a great time to assign optional practice on fundamentals. As Boom Cards will play on devices from smartphones to desktops, they provide an equitable method for helping students, catch up, stay up or move ahead.

Today Belinda Givens of BVG SLP talks about the fundamental skill of sequencing. Check out our store for more ideas for sequencing fundamentals.


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Sequencing: Why It’s So Critical

by Belinda Vickers Givens, MA, CCC-SLP

The ability to put things into sequential order is an extremely important precursor to organizing thoughts, retelling stories, following directions, reading comprehension, problem solving, and so much more.  It is a vital common core standard from as early as Kindergarten, primarily because it will prepare students for future academic success.  The sooner children are exposed to, and able to demonstrate mastery of sequencing, the better equipped they are for higher level critical thinking.  From putting numbers in order, alphabetizing words, recognizing a pattern, following directions, and even following a schedule, students are taught to sequence in EVERY subject.

As a Speech Language Pathologist, I work with students daily on organizing their thoughts for more effective communication.  A large part of thought organization involves being able to mentally put your ideas in order, before speaking, to effectively get your point across in a logical way that can easily be understood by your communication partner.  I find that my youngest scholars are most successful when they are presented with a visual that they are able to manipulate as they learn this vital skill.  Physically interacting with the content and moving pictures around allows them to visually see and better comprehend this concept.  As they progress towards being able to visually sequence an event or story, the goal is to graduate to fading the visual supports and ultimately independence without the need for verbal or visual cues.

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Presenting my students with picture cards for them to organize was very feasible as a face-to-face therapist, however, now that I’m working as a teletherapist (a service delivery model that allows Speech Language Pathologists to deliver therapy services remotely via the computer) gone are the days of tangible picture cards.  I love technology and embrace it with open arms as I have witnessed firsthand the enthusiasm and growth in my students when we are learning via a digital platform.  I have been very busy searching for and creating resources that capture my students’ attention to keep them engaged.

Boom Cards™ have been a HUGE hit with my students and I absolutely love the ease of use, interactive nature, and self-grading features of these digital task cards.  What I love most about them is that the cards I have created can easily be differentiated for use with all of my students regardless of their skill level.  With my lowest scholars, I can verbally provide them with increased cues or repetitions as necessary or scale back the cueing to provide less guidance as they gain independence.

 

I have started a series of Sequencing and Story Retell Boom Cards that are seasonal and timely to keep my students motivated and engaged all year long!

These cards include four complete short stories in each unit, multiple choice comprehension questions (to address story elements and answering “wh” questions), and interactive digital picture cards for students to sequence by dragging and dropping directly on the screen. I have also included visual cue cards with transition words to aid in story retell, as well as, an introduction to using context clues to address vocabulary by defining unfamiliar words.

My students have been very motivated by these lessons and are excited to manipulate the content directly on the screen.  I have found that I get the best outcomes for my students when they can interact with the material being presented.  They are not only engaged and enthused to actively participate, but they don’t require outside reinforcement to attend to the task and I can, therefore, maximize my time for increased trials.  They enjoy the ability to point and click their answer choices for immediate feedback and I really appreciate the fact that the Boom Cards are self-grading which saves me a substantial amount of time with data collection and progress monitoring.

I currently have a Fall and Winter themed unit available for purchase and will be releasing a Spring and Summer Sequencing and Story Retell unit very soon.  To find more of my digital interactive lessons, please visit my Boom Learning store HERE.


Belinda 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 PK – 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.  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 also the creator and owner of BVG SLP, which specializes in creating No- Prep, No-Print digital therapy materials that are great for use within teletherapy platforms or 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. In addition to her Boom Cards store, you can find products from her at 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. Connect with her on Facebook and Pinterest

 

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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.