How long have you been teaching, and how did you get started?
I feel like I’ve been teaching since before I graduated from high school, but technically this is my sixth year. I started in a Title 1 school in 2017 during the devastating disaster Hurricane Harvey. My first year was about as challenging and jumbled as the alliteration in this sentence. However, the veteran teachers were always there to rescue me whenever I felt like I was sinking.
I’ve worked with people in one way or another, from being a nanny to a toddler in a single-family home to managing a kitchen staff of 20+ in a high-security prison, before teaching,
I also worked remotely as a customer service genius for a geneology company, helping customers decipher their tangled lineage so that missing branches of their family tree would reappear.
What age group, subject, or specialty do you teach? What are some of the traditional (non-digital) resources you use with learners?
Teaching Language Arts to middle-schoolers was going to be a piece of cake, right? I love to read and write, so this should be fun! Then reality hit, and I realized that it wasn’t the 90’s and textbooks no longer commonly existed in the classroom. So, the printer became my best friend. My go-to resource was released STAAR tests. I would give the class a passage, and then show the students how to work through dissecting questions and finding evidence in the stories we read with just a highlighter. We would have a “detective” theme, and each lesson was focused on ensuring the accused ‘criminal’ did not escape conviction due to a lack of (text) evidence!
Unfortunately, the school I taught at didn’t always have a working printer. Or paper.
What challenges have you faced with using technology in your classroom?
At the Title 1 school, there were few computer carts or iPads for students to use in the classroom, and cell phone service was patchy at best, so technology wasn’t implemented regularly. On campuses where technology was easily accessible, my greatest challenge was locating a platform that met all my needs. I wanted to create materials that were engaging and interactive, but adaptable and automatic. I needed a program that allowed me to do the work upfront so that I could be flexible during class time.
What types of EdTech solutions have you used in the past?
I’ve enjoyed using Google Classroom because all the Google apps are extremely user-friendly, and they communicate well with each other. Not having to hold a training seminar before each lesson was a relief.
What do you think are the key benefits of using EdTech in the classroom? How do you think Boom Cards can help improve student engagement in the classroom?
The main benefit of using technology in the classroom is the auto-pilot feature. Not having to control the pace of the lesson allows students to remain engaged while their classmates work at a comfortable pace. It has helped me with classroom management, the kids enjoy it, and it saves time.
What do you think sets Boom Cards apart from other EdTech solutions?
Boom Learning is unlike any other platform I’ve encountered; it is the complete package. I appreciate being able to obtain classroom materials without reinventing the wheel and, of course, auto-grading.
What features do you think are most important for an EdTech tool to have?
When it comes to Ed-Tech, the most important feature is the AUTO-GRADING. If the auto-grading feature comes with data analysis? Priceless.
What do you think are the biggest advantages of using Boom Cards in the classroom?
The students thrive from instant feedback. My students have really enjoyed using Boom Cards to practice their skills. When I first introduced Boom Cards to my students, they were completely immersed.
What advice would you give to someone who is new to teaching?
We, as teachers, are asked to do the impossible. So, when I find educational programs that help simplify this process, I share what I know and recommend it to my fellow teachers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask for help! Children love to play games, and tech solutions allow you to incorporate games into everyday learning.
For example, I had given a student a skill to practice on paper, and the student was not engaged and didn’t gain any new knowledge from the assignment. But, when I transformed that content into a digital resource, a lightbulb came on, and I couldn’t pull the student away from the “game”. That is what I expect from digital resources. So, take my advice and use Boom Cards, they will save your life. ::Mic Drop::
What advice would you give to a teacher who is about to retire?
You know what works, so please share your ideas! Soak up the love from your students. Start planning your travel adventures. You earned it.
Does your student population require differentiation in instruction?
Yes! Always. Most of my students are Emerging Bilinguals, so having the pictures as well as the words is extremely important. Some examples off the top of my head include using wait time during class discussions to give space for cognition time and chunking assignments.
What are your go-to strategies for differentiation and scaffolding?
My favorite strategy is word decoding, and Boom Cards have been a great addition to my quick reviews.
How do you keep students from feeling self-conscious in a mixed-level class?
On the first day of school, I presented a Social Emotional Learning lesson about a “safe place”. The student’s now understand that there is no one that knows everything about anything. Even adults can learn something new, and you don’t know what you don’t know. There is no reason to be embarrassed. We use sentence stems to express our positions, “I agree with you, because . . . ” or “I like your answer, but have you considered . . .”
My students continue to use what they’ve learned on the first day, so when I asked them to try Boom Cards the students were anxious to share their successes, and even more so, they asked for each other’s help as they traveled through the escape rooms.
How do you think Boom Cards can help to make teaching easier?
I’m not sure if this is already a feature but having the ability to incorporate another teacher as a moderator. [Editor’s note: This is possible when you share a student with a colleague within the Boom Learning platform.] It would also be beneficial to have the program suggest reteach decks based on individual student responses. When you have a classroom of 30 or more students, it can be difficult to keep up with feedback. I’ve used other platforms, and it was difficult for me to lead the lesson and also give instant feedback to my students. I think Boom Cards really help with this.
With or without a moderating feature, Boom Cards have already made teaching easier! Whatever Boom Learning is doing, keep it up! We want more of it.
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