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.


 

Discovering and Loving Boom Cards

by Belinda Givens reprinted from BVGSLP Blog

I stumbled upon Boom Learning a few weeks ago while searching Pinterest for digital resources.  A quick visit to their website and I was very intrigued.  Boom Learning is a site that allows teachers and educators to create interactive resources, very similar to task cards, for use in their classrooms.

The interactive digital cards are so cool!  They are very easy to make and once created, you have a fun engaging way to address targets while students feel like they are playing a game.  The Boom Cards provide immediate auditory and visual feedback to students and best of all, they are self-grading!!  Yes, that’s right, once students have completed a Boom Card activity their scores are presented as a percent accuracy to easily assess overall comprehension of the target skill.  This saves so much time because those scores can be recorded in your grade books for effortless progress monitoring.

Setting up an account with Boom Learning is very simple and FREE! If you are not the creative type and would rather search and find Boom Cards that have already been created, there is a long list of teacher created resources already on the site to purchase.

belinda 1I love to create so I decided to give it a try and started my first Boom Card activity. For me, it’s easiest to work in PowerPoint so I created my Answering Yes/No Questions activity in PowerPoint first and converted it over to my Boom Learning account (there is a great tutorial video on their website that will walk you through this process).

Once converted, I added my interactive elements to allow my students to easily click the Yes/No buttons in response to the questions on each card.  I opted to provide immediate feedback and viola, my first Boom Card lesson was complete.

For classroom teachers, this particular lesson is not only an awesome way to work on vocabulary with your youngest scholars, it also is a great differentiated activity for your ELL/EFL students and for your students who need a little extra support.  For all my SLPs, this lesson is perfect for pediatric clients however, it can also be incorporated into your sessions with adults to address Aphasia, following a CVA or TBI.

I have created several additional Boom Card decks and plan a complete series, so please stay tuned for more fun engaging ways to motivate your students and adult clients.  To learn more about Boom Learning or to register for your free account click here.


Belinda has been an 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).  Her Boom Cards can be purchased directly from her Boom Cards store. Her other products are available 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 16 years and resides with her family in Central Florida. 

Belinda Vickers Givens, MA, CCC-SLP

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