Wednesday, July 29, 2020

How I Use Boom Cards™ in My Classroom and for Distance Learning

Although we might not know what it will look like yet, one thing is certain: School will soon be in session.

And while we're still sorting all the pieces of this ongoing puzzle, we also realize that the teaching resources we choose must be as adaptable as we are.

Fellow teachers, may I please present my favorite resource that helped me successfully teach in my classroom AND online during the 2019-2020 school year?

Drum roll, please...

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Boom Cards™!

And I do seriously GIVE you Boom Cards with this FREE set! Simply click here to go to this FREEBIE on my TpT Store. You can also click here to go straight to my store on Boom Learning.

Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post, I just really believe in the resources and the Boom platform. In full disclosure, I do sell Boom Cards now, but the information I discuss in this post is applicable to any of the fine resources available from a variety of sellers.

How I got started using Boom Cards™.  I had been a middle school ELA teacher for 17 years when I moved back to my hometown to help my mom who was experiencing some significant health challenges. The only available teaching job at the time was in fourth grade. Y'all, I have not taught in an elementary setting for nearly 20 years, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. I also thought it would be a fun change of pace for a year.

Whooee! Can I just say that elementary school has changed significantly in the past two decades?! I was scrambling trying to keep up with learning the scripted curriculum AND finding resources for the twice-a-day intervention time.

Every day, I would be responsible for re-teaching skills to nearly 20 kiddos of varying abilities. Although we had scripted curriculum for math and reading, we didn't really have materials for intervention time per se, and I did NOT want to use any more of that prescribed stuff than I already had to.

And did I mention we were limited to how many copies we could make each month?

Yeah. So digital resources became my friend LONG before we began distance learning last March. 😉

This is another FREE deck of cards available in my TpT store for you to try. (Click on the picture)

Starting the process. One day as I was scouring the TpT website during my lunch, I happened upon a store offering a resource with a free deck of Boom Cards. 

As much as I wanted to try them out, I was nervous. I used Chromebooks all the time with my students in middle school because we were 1:1. I hadn't tried using our grade-level set of computers yet because honestly, I wasn't ready for the hassle. I was barely treading water already because everything was new, and my fourth graders didn't have a whole lot of experience with technology. Would it just be an absolute disaster?

Still intrigued, I went home that night and searched YouTube. I wanted to see people actually using these Boom Cards with their own students. When I saw Della Larson successfully using them with her kindergartners(!) I knew I had to try.

I watched Melissa Bennett's videos on setting up a Boom account and setting up a Boom class and I was ready to roll. (BTW, they both have phenomenal resources available in their TpT and Boom stores!)

Getting the kiddos started. I had three paras help me the first day that kids logged on. I had assigned the decks through Google Classroom, and the hardest part was getting the kids to remember their Google account information. 😂

I greatly appreciate the security features Boom Learning provides and so did my administrators and parents. My kiddos did not have to log into the Boom Learning site with their own information. Rather, they logged in using my unique classroom username and password. I then had them listed on my classroom roster with their first name and a password I provided. From that moment on, we were unstoppable!

Students' reactions. I am not exaggerating when I say that my students were hooked from the very first day. Kids that did not like doing paper and pencil work happily skipped into my classroom the next day. "Do we get to do Boom today?" they asked. They literally cheered when I said yes! 

They loved using the technology and the fact that they were working at their own pace. The kids also appreciated having the immediate feedback the Boom Cards provided them, and so did I. They thought they were playing a game, so who was I to spoil the fun?

How I used Boom Cards in my classroom. Our school has a 50-minute intervention time where we target specific skills and standards for a few weeks at a time. Since Boom Cards are digital interactive task cards, they provide great practice for our featured skill of the week or month. 

Every day during target intervention time, I would give a brief mini lesson about a particular skill to the whole group. We would then break into smaller groups to practice the skill. Once I felt confident that the kids had the general idea, they would move into independent practice at a literacy center (or math center). I used Boom Cards as a digital literacy or math center and it was truly life changing! No more creating or buying task cards, printing them, laminating them, cutting them, or storing them. My paraprofessional and I whooped for joy!

We also didn't have to grade or track the data because all of that was taken care of on my Boom Learning classroom!

Reports were immediately available and told us information on every student that we could never have derived from typical paper and pencil means, such as time on task.

I also used Boom Cardsfor early finishers, absent students, and indoor recess.

Total aside: As a middle school teacher, I had never experienced the "joy" of indoor recess before. Let's just say that Boom Cards were a welcome change from Legos and art supplies!

Distance learning. When we moved to online learning in March, I was very thankful for these digital task cards. The kids were already familiar with them and that helped make the transition easier--they needed a few constants in their lives. I would still present a mini lesson each day, but now it was on Zoom. During their independent work time, kids would do a lesson assigned on Google Classroom or Nearpod, and then they would have Boom Cards they practice on. 

I am excited to hear from the fifth grade teachers this year on my students' progress. I expect to hear great things about computational fluency because my kiddos LOVE math, and they "played" their Boom Cards over and over again. In fact, this summer they have still been emailing me asking me to assign new decks of cards!

Are you ready to give them a try?  If I have piqued your interest, (and I certainly hope I have--you can thank me later!) you can go directly to the Boom Learning site to sign up for a membership.

You can also browse the Teachers Pay Teachers website for Boom Cards to get you started on this digital adventure! There are lots of free Boom decks available from a multitude of sellers, and once you download a resource, there will be a link to the Boom Learning site to set up a free trial account.

Once your account is set up, you can begin adding resources to your Boom library and that's where the fun--and learning--begins!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by! Have a wonderful day!