New Year, New Team

Here at Boom Learning, we’ve had a shockingly busy Spring and Summer as schools have had to make tough decisions and get creative about how they handled teaching. Many adopted Boom Learning as they explored new techniques and tools for teaching students remotely as well as in classrooms. This has been both exciting and overwhelming at times for everyone involved – the teachers, their students, and the Boom Team.

Behind the scenes at Boom Learning, we’ve had to expand our team again and again this year in order to keep up with all the new accounts as well as the flood of questions and ideas coming our way daily. That new team has settled throughout the last half of 2020, and we thought now would be the perfect time to introduce the new faces on the other side of the screen.

In the beginning there was only Mary and Eric with Joe supporting them here and there as they tackled everything from setting up a company, creating the code that brings Boom Cards to life, and helping teachers both access and use Boom Cards and get the most from our platform.

Mary Heuett Oemig (pronouns: she/her) is Boom’s Co-Founder and President, and the one who makes it all happen; which makes her the big boss, “except I’m really petite” she admits. A small town girl, she started off in Potlatch, Idaho before living for a while in Phoenix, Arizona and then the Bay Area, and now she’s landed in Kirkland, Washington. She’s often heard advising the team to “go slow to go fast,” and has an incredible ability to just get stuff done. Before co-founding Boom Learning, “I was a serious copyright law junkie. Not merely an attorney, but someone who could cite obscure cases by title,” and when she was only a second-year attorney, she wrote the defense briefs for the first major case addressing the application of copyright law to peer-to-peer file-sharing (A&M Records v Napster), so it’s safe to say she knows her stuff when it comes to copyright laws. Mary is also “an unrepentant maker” who spends her time away from Boom sewing, knitting, crocheting, baking, cooking, dancing, and traveling when she’s not reading a good book.

Eric Oemig (pronouns: he prefers “lord” though most of us use he/him) is of course a Co-Founder of Boom, but it may be more accurate to refer to him as “Code Master.” Boom was born from a combination of dreams and engineering, and millions of Boom Cards keep playing thanks to his late nights tending that code. Eric believes that “how you do one thing is how you do everything,” and can often be heard advising the team to “do the right thing.” This guiding principle is behind the decisions he’s made on everything from customer care to coding. Eric’s roots are in small-town America – he made his way west from Wisconsin to Kirkland, Washington. Outside of keeping Boom working, he spends his time drumming and writing poetry. You probably wouldn’t guess it, but he’s a secular vegan who can walk on his hands (not while eating of course!).

Joe Coffey (pronouns: he/him or just “Joe” is acceptable) started supporting Mary and Eric in 2016; today he acts as Boom’s Chief Finance Officer primarily. Joe hails from Los Angeles, CA, but lives in Ballard, Washington now and believes that “seeing the humor in life is as important as any other skill,” which the team benefits from frequently as he brings life and laughter into any (digital) room. When he’s not wearing one of his many Boom Learning hats, you can find him out hiking, sailing, or generally exploring the world, and he dreams of living in another country for a few months. In his previous life, Joe was a test driver for BMW AG (R&D), and in this life, has the words “the end is nothing, the road is all” taped up on his wall.

In the Spring it became apparent that there were not enough hands on deck. Kyle, Zack, and Jasmine joined the team.

Jasmine Dinh (pronouns: she/her) started providing technical support to Boom’s customers on April 1st of this year and quickly became our top tech support expert – no fooling. If she can’t identify and resolve the issue, it’s a problem only Eric’s coding can resolve. Jasmine has moved around the world a bit, and her parents live in Tacoma WA, but she is from Vietnam originally and currently lives in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. Her motto, “carpe diem,” keeps her both dreaming and doing; one day she hopes to become a helicopter pilot. She’s got a good start on this goal too, because Jasmine has notable pen spinning skills. If you take the time to get to know her, you might notice that “I eat a lot,” she confesses, but you’ll also come to see the cheerful lady beneath the savvy technical support expert.

Kyle Savchuck (pronouns: he/him) came to the rescue in April of 2020 to help tackle customer questions and account setup and soon after was appointed a Customer Service Manager. Kyle started off in Wisconsin before moving to Seattle. He’s always been a good negotiator, which serves him well on the Boom Team, and is frequently heard exclaiming “Nice!” When he’s not on the clock, he’s probably deeply immersed in a Dungeons & Dragons game, but he also spends time at his desk writing or heads outside to do some hiking or gardening.

Zack Beyer (pronouns: he/him) started as a Software Wizard, assisting Eric, on May 18th, 2020, and can often be heard saying “Groovy” both on and off the job. A transplant, he started life off in Evansville and then Madison, Wisconsin, but today Zach lives in Seattle, Washington – where his skills at coding and diplomacy serve him and the Boom Team well, and one day will hopefully land him in Game Design. Now this isn’t common knowledge, but when pressed, Zach admits, “I don’t actually like the color orange….” Fun fact about Zach, this is his second tour of duty at Boom Learning – he worked with us in 2012-2013 on the prototype of what then became Boom Learning as well as the Mathtopia family of iOS games.

As more and more teachers heard about Boom, we continued to struggle, and it stung. We pride ourselves on collaborating with our users, and yet we could barely keep up with basic questions and new orders let alone improve the platform.

Over the summer we went looking for help as it became apparent that Boom was really exploding in popularity.

Tu Duong (pronouns: she/her) has been providing Customer Support and assisting with Sales since June 25th of 2020. Born in Saigon, she has lived in Minnesota, Texas, California, Germany, Oregon, Singapore, and now she’s landed in Seattle although “Portland will always be home.” Tu makes a mean Vietnamese spring roll, and loves traveling whenever she can. She’s even trekked to Everest Base Camp, though she says “once is good enough.” Beyond enjoying the exploration, Tu’s travels have inspired her. One day, she’d like to create a non-profit for children in Third World countries. “Throughout my travels, I saw myself in so many people I met. And I wonder what their lives would be like if they had the opportunities I did.” She dreams of giving them access to higher education one day, and she brings that passion for helping others access education to work every day at Boom Learning in the meantime. She believes that you CAN teach an old dog new tricks, and is constantly pushing herself and her team to learn and grow.

Hazel McNees (pronouns: she/her) joined the Boom team to provide Spanish Translation in July of 2020, and leads our new FAQ team to ensure customers have access to accurate and helpful information whenever they need it in both English and Spanish. She is originally from Costa Rica, but lived in Idaho as a certified structure and wildlife fire fighter (BTW she’s shorter than Mary) for several years and also lived in Indiana for some time. These days, Hazel lives in Florida – where she enjoys a beautiful view of the beach which inspires envy in during digital team meetings. She has an amazing ability to make healthy food taste great, and makes the best margaritas. When she’s not working, or mixing it up in the kitchen, you can find Hazel running, racing, hiking, or out enjoying that beach and generally living up to her motto: “Pura Vida” a Costa Rican motto which translates literally to “Pure Life” and with more context as “Life is Awesome.”

Brittany Burkhardt (pronouns: she/her) On July 27th of 2020, ***from Nordstrom (sp?) and brought her fashion. Brittany joined Boom Learning’s Customer Support team, but these days she’s also supporting the President with legal and other matters much of the time. She currently lives in Seattle and has an enviable view of the Space Needle, but she started off in Poulsbo, Washington. When she’s not hard at work, frequently putting in overtime into the evening, she’s likely settling down with a good book while one of her favorite jazz records plays. She’s a fantastic cook and has a talent for music. She used to play both the flute and the piano, and “in high school I was in all of the auditioned choir groups. One year, we went to NYC to sign at Carnegie Hall for Easter!” While she’s an undeniable go-getter, Brittany balances that fire out with a laid back “it is what it is” attitude and never misses a chance to laugh or share stories with the rest of the team.

Quinn Redfield (pronouns: they/he/them/him) started at Boom Learning on August 8th, 2020 ready to put their natural teaching skills to work providing customer support, but soon after began juggling HR, Marketing, and community engagement as well. Quinn admits, “I think best with a pen in my hand; if I’m not writing, I’m probably not paying attention,” and is often the designated note taker in meetings as a result. An Eastern Washington native, they were born in Chelan, grew up in Tonasket and the Spokane area, and then moved to the Seattle area “for the weather; I prefer it 52 degrees and grey or raining.” Most of his down time is spent writing fiction or with the small petting zoo they share their Everett home with, but he can also be found reading, playing Dungeons and Dragons, or out camping, road tripping, and traveling abroad whenever possible – all with a camera at the ready. A renaissance man of sorts, Quinn is also something of an amateur historian and theologian who strives to exercise both curiosity and empathy at all times.

Shortly after starting at Boom Learning, Quinn pulled together an onboarding program as the Boom Team strapped in for more expansion to tackle the flood of customer questions and the unexpected mass renewals by all those who had tried Boom Learning out using our COVID Promo. Meanwhile, new sales were mounting as the new school year started; we needed more help to give teachers and whole schools set up with the new accounts they wanted.

Erick Velasquez (pronouns: he/him) jumped into Sales and Customer Service on September 10th, 2020. A Californian, he was born in Burbank, Erick currently lives in Auburn, Washington and enjoys traveling specifically to soak up other cultures. “I am a Yes Man,” he admits and adds that when he travels “I will ALWAYS try something at least once.” It is, after all, “extremely rude to turn down food in most cultures.” Perhaps his favorite food though would be sushi. He also loves to make others laugh. “I am a slow burn, so I’ll eventually make you laugh.” He’s also inspirational, and lives by the words of Wilson Fisk (aka the Kingpin of NYC): “Problems. Just opportunities that haven’t presented themselves.” Erick will work out a way to tackle any problem, and he keeps the team cheerful in the process.

Sarah Colerick (pronouns: she/they/her/them) donned the title of Customer Wizard and began supporting the Sales Team at Boom Learning on September 10th of 2020. She’s a Washington native who started out in Oaksville, but will be moving into Seattle just in time to ring in the new year. When off the clock, Sarah may break out their Bard skills for a round of Dungeons and Dragons and enjoys singing alongside her mom in the church choir. “Though we cannot [currently] meet in person to sing, I know we’re keeping the music in our hearts.” Sarah draws on this music as well as the words of Anne McCaffrey: “make no judgements where you have no compassion” to maintain a cheerful and understanding demeanor through even the longest, toughest days at work.

Jorge Riera (pronouns: he/him) joined Boom Learning’s Customer Wizards on September 24th, 2020 and has loved every day since. He was born and raised in beautiful Puerto Rico, but has lived all over (first as an Army Brat and now as an Army Reservist), and he has a special place in his heart for New York as well. You’d probably never guess it looking at him (he was a childhood model), but Jorge confesses: “I love crocs!” Between helping customers and assisting with marketing and technical projects, Jorge enjoys simply “making memories with friends and family.” His endearing charm, relaxed “if it happened, it had to happen” attitude, and easy humor has made him fast friends with the rest of the Boom Team. Jorge also genuinely connects with the customers he assists; no wonder he gets complimented on his interpersonal skills.

With all these wonderful new additions, we thought for a moment that we might finally have enough hands on deck to keep up with the incoming requests. Unfortunately, by the time this new group was up and running efficiently, we had a backlog of customer requests that seemed impossible to recover from. Since we were already all working overtime, we decided to keep hiring through the Autumn.

Christine Choate (pronouns: they/she/her/them). On October 15th of 2020, we welcomed Christine to Boom Learning. She hails from “the itty-bitty town of Kalispell, Montana,” but the whole family moved to Puyallup, Washington when Christine was just about five years old. These days, she lives with her partner in Tacoma, Washington. An “avid PC gamer,” Christine spends their free time gaming, streaming, or watching other streamers on Twitch, so it’s safe to say they are a bit of a tech nerd, but you might not guess that Christine is also “a HUGE theatre nerd. I love participating in shows both onstage and behind the scenes. Theatre is pretty much my life, and I’ll be doing it as long as I can!” When they want to take a break from the screens and can’t get on the stage, they also enjoy sewing and crocheting. One of their favorite podcasts (“Welcome to Night Vale”) gifted them this gem of a quote to live by: “Be proud of your place in the cosmos. It is small, and yet, it is.” She is also extremely skilled at selecting the perfect size of Tupperware container for leftovers. “I have no idea how I acquired this skill,” Christine admits, “but it’s quite useful when cleaning up after large meals!” Cleaning up at work also seems to be a skill, as Christine now tackles customer questions as they come in as well as before they’ve been asked: they’ve joined the FAQ team and turn out helpful and well written content regularly.

Elizabeth Yates (pronouns: she/her) came from Nevada originally, but has lived in Washington for most of her life, and joined the Boom Team on October 15th, 2020 to assist with customer care. She excelled, almost immediately, and diving into our backlog and connecting with customers who had been waiting for us to catch our breath or lost in the chaos. Truly living up to her own words, Elizabeth is “making things happen!” She’s always looking for new ways to tackle a problem and loves coming up with out of the box ideas she can then turn into real solutions. “I’m a jack of all trades, and I love learning new things.” She used to play the Trumpet and French Horn, and these days you can catch her dabbling with the Guitar and Piano or studying Portuguese – since she’s already got down some basic Spanish and French. Elizabeth also loves sewing and costuming. She also spends her free time playing board games with her family.

Justice Amsbury (pronouns: they/he/them/him) works their Customer Wizard magic from Spokane, Washington, but original comes from the lesser known eastern Washington town of Ephrata. He works with a quiet humility to sort out tough tech support questions and answer customer questions. Behind the soft spoken words, a determined, genius guides Justice from questions to answers and problems to solutions. Outside of work, music fills their time. “Growing up, I played the flute.” Justice explains, “I wasn’t very good at it.” The instrument was wrong, but music itself became a passion. Today, Justice plays the bass and guitar, and one day he’d like to form a band. Recently, they adopted an adorable kitten who spends her time warming Justice’s chair any time he leaves it empty for more than a second and making guest appearances in digital team meetings.

Within the month, these three were up and running strong. We knew even with their amazingly fast grasp of the task at hand that we’d need at least a few more folks to lighten the load though. The very next month, we added to the team once more.

Josiah Spray (pronouns: he/him) started supporting customers on November 17th, 2020. A Montana native, he lives in Seattle now and spends his free time playing Dungeons and Dragons and enjoying musical theatre such as Hamilton – which he has inadvertently learned nearly all the words to. In many ways he is a self-made man who lives by these words: “I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” He amuses the team with his vocal impressions, and can capture various Muppets and celebrities with amazing skill. He also has a talent for music and reveals that when he was younger, “I played the viola in the symphony.”

Yanichelle Rosado (pronouns: she/her; pronunciation: Jah-nee-chel) is a former teacher who used Boom Cards with her students before becoming a Customer Wizard on November 19th of 2020. Now, she helps teachers get the most out of Boom Learning, and her teacher’s perspective helps us better understand and improve the experience every day. Yanichelle believes that “everything in life has a purpose,” and relies on her can-do creativity and DIYing skills to create solutions from needs. She also has a knack for maps that makes her an excellent travel planner which will come in handy one day, because Yani dreams of living all over the world, “for at least one year.” New York is near the top of that list, but she calls Puerto Rico home. There, she enjoys spending quality time with her family and friends. She admits that despite her petite appearance, “I eat like an elephant,” but it’s easy to see how her big, beautiful smile and contagious cheer brightens every meeting.

We also brought on more help for some behind the scenes work in legal and development.

Lillith Leonard (pronouns: she/her) joined Boom as a paralegal on November 19th of 2020. She’s a Washington native from Walla Walla who moved to Sumner, Washington “to marry my lifelong love.” Her ultimate goal is to help human trafficking victims. Lillith is exceptionally good at taking apart information and explaining it so that a layperson can understand and learn from it, making her a natural teacher and thus a natural fit for our work supporting education. This combined with her ability to shrug off adversity and remember “I’ll live” in the face of stress keeps her tackling the tough, legal workload she tackles daily. She’s got a fun side too. “I once played a singing tree and the tornado in the Walla Walla Summer Theater production of the Wizard of Oz.” Her fondest memory from that production? “I got to throw apples at the Scarecrow.”

Zachary Foutz (pronouns: he/him) joined Boom Learning’s Dev Team as a Software Alchemist on November 19th, 2020, and has been working on improving the customer experience in small but impactful ways every day. “I love optimizing web apps and focusing on the tiniest of details,” he says. His coding has been complimented as “unparalleled,” and we’re thrilled to have him improving Boom Learning’s student sign-in and classroom functionality. You’ll have him to thank for the improved functionality some new features (including new student logins) as well as the new look on the invoices. An Iowa native and widowed father, Zachary lives in Bremerton Washington now where he is raising his charming 6 year old boy son. In his free time, Zachary is a gamer who sometimes creates text based games and one day hopes to break into game design. He takes inspiration from Nikola Tesla’s words: “The present is theirs; the future, for which I really worked, is mine.”

While we’re continuing to look at expanding, especially on the Dev Team, we are finally catching our breath after the immense growing pains of the Spring and Summer. Some of you have already noticed that our response times are back to where they should be, and we’ve managed to catch up with the bulk of those customers who slipped through the cracks during the heights of chaos.

This week and next, we will all be taking a much needed breather with a brief break, and in generally, we’re looking ahead to 2021 with a lot more confidence and excitement. We finally feel like we’ve got enough hands to cover our bases and get back to what we love: connecting with the Boom Community to provide not only support for teachers and schools using Boom daily, but also to collaborate with you all on ways to make Boom Cards better for the teachers and students who count on them.

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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.

Teacher Talk: Technology & Teaching

Today we are talking with Karen Busch and Belinda Vickers Givens.

Boom: Technology has entered the classroom with a vengeance. What has been your experience with technology in the classroom?

Karen: Without prioritizing technology funding, you can’t successfully integrate technology. My last year in the classroom was 2014-2015. My kindergarten classroom had three desktop computers and a smartboard that was no longer smart due to an installation error. We had one computer lab for just under 1,000 students. Kindergarten to third classrooms could sign up for once-a-week 30-minute lab sessions. Fourth through sixth shared a rolling lab.

When our kids had to take NWEA Maps tests, the computer lab would be unavailable for three weeks to accommodate all the classrooms. The first two times our kinders took the test was really hard. The kids had no idea how to drag and drop or which mouse button to click. It took forever to get them all logged in. School had just started and they couldn’t even recognize the letters in their name yet.

The year I left, we adopted My Math. The presenter showed us how you could use a tablet and smartboard to monitor and teach while walking around the classroom. We all sighed. A district representative was in the room and we begged her… can’t we AT LEAST get ONE teacher tablet per classroom? The answer was, simply, “There is no money for that at this time.”

Teacher Helping Male Elementary Pupil In Computer ClassBelinda: I currently work as a Speech Teletherapist which allows me to remotely serve students PK-12 via a secure internet connection. When I was in the public school setting, I LOVED incorporating technology into my therapy sessions but was limited to the use of my iPad. Now that my students are being seen via the computer, the sky is the limit when it comes to technology. I personally have been busy creating fun, engaging, interactive digital materials to use within a teletherapy platform. I find that when I incorporate the interests of my students into our sessions, outcomes are better, so everything I create is inspired by my students and used during our sessions. Teletherapy is a growing service delivery model and for this reason, there is certainly an increasing demand for digital resources.

Boom: Why should schools prioritize technology adoption?

Karen: Kids are comfortable with touch screen technology. They’re always using their parents’ and older siblings’ smart phone or tablet. Additionally, we didn’t like being tied down to the front of the classroom. We wanted the freedom to walk amongst our students while teaching and displaying on the smart board.

Belinda: I want what’s best for my students. In the 21st-century classroom, technology is an absolute must to effectively prepare our students for careers. The reality is kids love technology and I use this to my advantage. Learning should be fun, engaging, and challenging. I’m able to keep my students engaged and capitalize on their strengths while addressing their weakness through the use of technology.

Boom: Karen, based on your experience, what shouldn’t schools do?

Karen: They shouldn’t prevent teachers from using technology. We couldn’t even use our personal tablets because our district blocked us from connecting ANYTHING, even our cell phones, to their internet Wi-Fi.  We can’t teach our kids how to use a mouse, a keyboard, or how to navigate online or inside apps or web pages without access to computers. My district let their teachers and, more importantly, their students down.

Boom: Belinda, you have students who must have technology to participate. How do you use that to improve outcomes?

Belinda: I have a number of “go to” apps in my inventory and in the past, I would utilize iPads to incorporate them into my face-to-face sessions. Now through the use of teletherapy platforms, I’m less limited and I’m able to share my screen with my students to use a wide variety of educational apps. When my students are engaged, their outcomes are always better. When I customize my sessions to incorporate their interests, I have seen increased gains in a shorter amount of time.

Boom: Both of you have recently started creating Boom Cards teaching resources. What needs do you think they meet?

Karen: I think they meet the need of having kids get the practice and intervention they need with immediate feedback. If my district had enough PCs for all students, then Boom Cards would also meet the needs of allowing my students to practice drag and drop and which button to click with the mouse when selecting an answer.

Belinda: Boom Cards are a fun, interactive way to engage my students. Not to mention that they are self-grading and fully customizable! I can address so many targets and my students really enjoy them.

Boom: Karen, if you were in the classroom today, how would you use Boom Cards?

Karen: I would use them on the desktop PCs when we visited the computer lab once weekly. I would also use them on my smart board and allow kids to take turns selecting the answers by using my laptop which was hooked up to the board. Ideally, I would have enough desktops, tablets, or other devices in the classroom to have at least a group of five or more kids using the Boom Cards during RTI to work on their individual needs. I miss the classroom. 


Belinda is a Speech Language Pathologist. Practicing for 11 years, she is licensed in Florida, California, Washington, and Vermont. She currently is a teletherapist serving pre-K to twelfth-grade students. She is the co-owner of Infinity Rehabilitation, LLC and the creator and owner of BVG SLP, which creates digital therapy materials for use either for teletherapy or face-to-face therapy. Passionate about literacy, Belinda wrote The Adventures of Demdem the Garbage Truck: Watch Out For the Bumps. You can get her Boom Cards decks at a discount with her bundle.

Karen Busch taught elementary for 16 years at three different schools within the same large district in Southern California  Her principal wanted more non-fiction reading activities. Karen found the five and six years old in her kindergarten class didn’t have the attention span to sit through a non-fiction read aloud. Determined to meet their needs, Karen would create easy-to-read non-fiction Powerpoint slide shows for her students to read each day in class. Her team loved them so much they urged her to open a store at Teachers Pay Teachers and sell them. Although this is her third year out of the classroom, creating helps her stay connected to teaching. She has recently started creating Boom Cards resources. For fall, try her Beginning Sounds October theme (includes sounds).

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For the Love of Français: Languages of the Americas

English, French and Spanish are frequently taught languages of North America. In Canada, English and French have equal status as official languages. Today’s blog is focused on resources for French language instruction.

We’ll cover Spanish resources at a future date. But if you just can’t wait, you’ll find them in the store.

Teach French

“Prior to Boom Learning, students were merely just going through the motions of learning another language.”

-Najda Zada of Garden Full of Knowledge

Engaging Digital Natives

Like all instructors, Najda has her share of reluctant learners. Digital natives engage with the world visually. Najda says her students “love using Boom Cards because it gives them an opportunity to be able to use their handheld devices to practice their French language.”

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In her classroom, she selects a French language Boom Cards deck and then has the whole class work through it, enunciating each French word and deciphering the response.  At other times, she divides the class into two teams. Each team is given a question that they must answer within an allotted time. She finds these methods motivate her digital natives to speak French. “With Boom Learning, learning another language has been fun, engaging, and motivating to all types of second language learners.”

Surviving Teaching French

Boom Cards are not just for learners, they are also for novice teachers. At ISTE 2017 we spoke with a number of attendees from Canada. They were excited about using Boom Cards to assist teachers who were new to teaching French. With many authors adding sound features, teachers now how a variety of pronunciation resources.

Teaching French involves skills ranging from phonological awareness, les rimes, to sight words, to vocabulary building, to grammar. Materials available from our authors include sound, writing, and cross-curricular content. Here is just a sample!

les phonemes prof numericLes élèves raffoleront de ces cartes à tâches digitales autocorrectives qui sont totalement compatibles avec tous les types d’appareils mobiles ou écrans interactifs. L’apprentissage des phonèmes, via les sons AUDIO inclus dans cet ensemble de jeux interactifs, augmentera l’engagement des apprenants assurément.

by Prof Numeric – available individually at Boom Learning or as a bundle at Teachers Pay Teachers

Les Rime Michelle DupuisRhyme is a key component of phonological awareness. This fun resource will help students practice rhymes and review vocabulary words. Cette ressource contient 15 cartes qui permettront aux élèves de développer leur conscience phonologique.

by Michelle Dupuis Education French–Français

 

sight words for french immerssion

There’s no such thing as too much sight word practice. With these decks, kids will be able to listen to correct pronunciation and work on recognizing the written words. Kids won’t even notice how much work they’re doing while listening to a native speaker other than you. Try the free sample.

by For French Immersion – available individually on Boom Learning or as a bundle at Teachers Pay Teachers

verb tense mme r

These 25 cards will help students identify common reflexive verbs and practice present tense conjugations. There are ten multiple choice cards for verb identification, ten fill in the blank cards for conjugation and five fill in the blank cards for negative constructions.

by Mme R’s French Resources 

 

La rentree Madame Angel

Second language learners need lots of opportunities to practice new vocabulary in fun and engaging ways. This bundle of Boom Cards decks allows students the opportunity to read, listen to, identify and write school themed vocabulary.

by La classe de Madame Angel

 

Les r saisons Peg Swift

 

Investing in cross-curricular resources is always a good idea when you are building a well-rounded program. Here’s one that combines science and language.

by Peg Swift French Immersion

 

Quel temps Toujours Francais

Build vocabulary knowledge for students. This deck incorporates both listening and writing. It can be used both for assessment for learning (as a pre-assessment) or assessment as learning (used to determine if students are understanding the material).

by Toujour Francais

 

 

Find the Boom Cards collection for you

More French teaching resources available at Teachers Pay Teachers

Assess and Review Middle School Mathematics

Whether you are assessing understanding, preparing for Common Core or similar standards-based tests, recommending summer retention or credit recovery, or are looking ahead to fall, we have a few resources to help your middle schoolers solidify core skills. You can find our collection of mathematics materials for middle schoolers here.

MiddSimoune's Math Resourcesle schoolers are expected to extend their understanding of operations to all rational numbers, including negative numbers. Everyday reasoning about the meaning of negative numbers provides a solid foundation. Simone’s Math Resources’s Comparing Integers can be used as a pre-test, assessment, or practice of student ability to understand the applicability of negative numbers to real world problems.

A firm grasp of absolute value is an essential foundation to performing operations on mixed negative and positive numbers. Miss Mindy has an Absolute Value lesson plus practice deck bundle. You can use it with the student who needs extra or with the student reading to jump ahead.

Middle schoolers must develop increasingly sophisticated skills in working with expressions and exponents. We have several items from Joan Kessler, LittleStreams, Simone’s Math Resources, Jean Adams, and Misty Miller to evaluate how well your students are working with Expressions and Exponents or to assign extra practice.

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ELA Test Prep (or Teaching) for Third, Fourth, and Fifth Grade Standards

Whether you are squeezing in last-minute test prep or thinking ahead to fall, we have a variety of materials to help third, fourth, and fifth graders meet standards. You can use these materials to evaluate progress, practice and teach, or pre-test.

LANGUAGE ARTS

bjm4jho6vwyhwc7zg-bundle-reMastering the conventions of standard English can be a trial for many children. We have a variety of materials for you to teach, assess, practice, or remediate these crucial skills. The Revising and Editing Bundle by Rosie’s Resources is a handy set for last minute test prep.

If your students need more, check out these resources:

Screen Shot 2017-04-22 at 10.23.46 PMIn language arts, students also need to master vocabulary acquisition and use (CC.ELA.L.4, CC.ELA.L.5 and CC.ELA.L.6). This can range from the skills of sequencing, to being able to use context clues to determine word meaning. Rachel Lynette has three decks of increasing difficulty to help students master context clues. Other skills you can practice using cards from our vocabulary collection include Greek and Latin roots, parts of speech, and commonly confused words.

READING

To master the art of reading with comprehension, students must be able to determine main ideas, key details, and draw inferences. We have materials for students to practice drawing conclusions, making generalizations, making predictions, and making inferences from pictures.Screen Shot 2017-04-22 at 10.29.51 PM

Barb Evans creates a variety of materials that combine critical thinking and problem solving with vocabulary building.Screen Shot 2017-04-22 at 10.36.43 PM

You can find more materials here:

WRITING

Writing skills include the ability to write dialogue, sequence, and understand and craft analogies. You can find writing materials for grades third, fourth and fifth here.

Happy Teaching!

ELA Test Prep for Middle School

Middle school brings English Language Arts, Mathematics and Science testing. Today’s focus is on materials in the Boom Learning catalog that can help your students prepare for ELA testing in middle school. These materials are suitable for students in fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grades.

Boom Cards resources let you see at a glance how each student is progressing towards mastery and where they are making mistakes. With their cheerful bright colors and game features, Boom Cards are a welcome break from worksheets. Best of all they make sure screen time is moving students closer to standard. Give your classroom a selection of materials to practice for testing season and let students pick and choose which to do when.

Learning with Sunflower Smiles has five decks for students who need practice with Active and Passive Voice. There are two decks for mixed voices, and three additional decks for focused practice each on past, present and future tense. Assigned mixed voices for the whole class. Add focused practice if some students need more.

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Students who need to practice conventions can work with possessive apostrophes, commas, and pronoun case with decks from It’s a Teacher Thing, Hand in Hand, Learning with Sunflower Smiles, Deb Hansen, Rachel Lynette, and HappyEdugator. There are also a variety of materials to practice vocabulary, including Greek and Latin roots from Rosie’s Resources.

For reading skills, we have decks ranging from Advanced Point of View by Rachel Lynette, to Author’s Purpose by Deb Hanson, to Analogies Practice by HappyEdugator and many more.

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Feel free to repost and share with your teacher friends and students’ parents.

Engage Students with Visual Resources for World Language Mastery

“Prior to Boom Learning, students were merely just going through the motions of learning another language.”

-Najda Zada of Garden Full of Knowledge

Like all instructors, Najda has her share of reluctant learners. I recall struggling to learn world languages, but then I’m a primarily visual learner. My husband, whose strength is auditory learning, can pick up languages in a flash.

Digital natives engage with the world visually. Najda says her students “love using Boom Cards because it gives them an opportunity to be able to use their handheld devices to practice their French language.”

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In her classroom, she selects a set of French language Boom Cards and then has the whole class enunciate each French word orally.  As a group, they work together to decipher the response. Other times, she divides the class into two teams. Each team is given a question that they must answer within an allotted time.

She finds these methods motivate her digital natives to speak French. “With Boom Learning, learning another language has been fun, engaging, and motivating to all types of second language learners. Boom Cards have just given us a new twist to learning French!” With Boom Cards, the learning experience is enhanced with visual and kinetic modalities.

You can also find materials for French as a second language from Mme R’s French Resources. For a different shade of romance, try Italian resources from Hand in Hand Learning.

Engaging Younger Students

It can be challenging to find world language materials targeted for the elementary grades. Most materials are for middle school to adults. With Boom Learning, you can find ready-to-use decks made by teachers.

If you need something special, it only takes an hour or two to make a DIY deck you can use for years (no reprinting, no hand grading). If your deck turns out to be just what students need, you can add a little polish and put it in the store, for free or for a fee. Everyone gains: students and teachers. Worksheets and task cards both can be translated into Boom Cards, along with books. As Lucy from For French Immersion says “The fact that Boom decks work on computers, tablets, and interactive whiteboards is benefit you don’t get from regular apps.”

Lucy’s best selling French Verbs Growing Bundle is a great value, as you get all new decks she adds. For French Immersion designs materials for younger students in immersion classrooms (they also work for second language instruction). If you want to enjoy the season with French, we recommend this deck. You can also find French immersion resources from La classe de Madame Angel.

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We are also lucky to have linguaphile and designer Miss Mindy creating for Boomers in some of her many languages. She has spent the last 7 years teaching Spanish at a small independent K-6 school in Vermont and is now homeschooling her daughters. Mindy started studying Spanish when she was 13 and was enthralled. She minored in German and also studied French and Latin. Expect a variety of language resources Miss Mindy’s store. Here is a sample of her seasonal resources:

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After three German au pairs and high school Spanish we joke that we speak Danglish in our house. In Mindy’s house they must speech Flandanglish. What do you speak in your house?

Do you need more elementary resources? Rebecca Reid of Line upon Line Learning has elementary Spanish resources.

 

Speaking Scientifically with Boom Cards

“While all my friends were asking for Backstreet Boys paraphernalia or bicycles, I remember getting a microscope for Christmas when I was 9 or 10 and it was like I’d died and gone to heaven.” – Kristin Lee

Chemical or Physical Change?
Chemical or Physical Change?

Today I want to introduce Kristin Lee. She is my soul buddy. My favorite magazines as a teen were Scientific American and Discovery. Neither of us ended up as scientists, but we independently found our way to incorporate science in our careers. Kristin loves “seeing those middle schoolers fall in love with science!”

Puzzles, patterns, problems. Science has it all for Kristin. “I want students to feel my passion for science in my work and maybe, for some of them, light the same fire I have. I hope for a metaphorical fire and not one set by a Bunsen burner in the middle of my science lab.”

Kristin recently started making her Boom Cards

“Working with Boom has allowed me to take less concrete concepts, like the periodic table or vocabulary, and still make them fun and interactive. Teachers get real time data on students that can help them assess the needs of their class, without spending hours collecting and organizing it themselves.”

Kristin isn’t the only science loving author on Boom Learning. Rebecca Reid has gone beyond the task card to integrate reading comprehension with science learning about coral reefs (best for students grade levels 3-6).

For younger kids, you can also find these materials:

 

Featured

Mathematics without Restrictions

I teach mathematics to students who have learning difficulties such as Autism and Dyslexia. For them, writing and answering worksheet questions can be difficult. Boom Learning is a great tool for them to have a go at showing their mathematical abilities without being restricted by the difficulties of using a pen.

Rebekah Bullen, LittleStreams

We frequently remind our older children that they once struggled during the early days of reading. Now, reading is a breeze and they have amazing worlds to explore.

Likewise there is an amazing world that will be theirs in mathematics. We share with our children, as much as they can understand, the worlds of statistics and combinatorics, proofs and probability, geometry and logic. And then we remind them that to get there they must put in the work of learning their math ABCs (or 123s).

Sound Fundamentals

Rebekah Bullen is a private tutor who teaches mathematics to students with learning differences. Her LittleStreams store is full of elementary through middle school resources for teaching sound fundamentals. We like how she has made innovative use of the text box element to make her products touch focused for her students.

Find the factors for a given number task cards.
Students use touch or click to identify all the factors of a number.

Addition and Multiplication Facts

Love them or hate them, math facts are the foundation for success in higher mathematics courses. Mastery of facts can be tedious, progress slow, and repetition is essential. Our experience with digital natives is that variety matters. Thank goodness for the variety available on Boom Learning.