Using Technology for Independent Review

By using computer and tablet apps, ,y 4th grader is able to get instant feedback on his work! Here's what's working for us.

I am so excited that my 8-year-old son Raisin is finally becoming mature enough to be a lot more self-directed this year! It’s just in time. This year my daughter is going to be home preschooled, and I also have a soon-to-be-walking baby! It’s going to be crazy enough, so I’m really grateful anytime my son can use technology for independent review of the subjects we’re studying! 

Have you started school again yet? We started last week, simply because I want this year to be low-key, fun, and less stress. Days off when we feel like it. No pressure to push through. I’m determined to adopt more of a laid back attitude toward “getting stuff done.” So far, so good!

We utilize the computer and tablet many times during our casual school day. Some people give a limit on screen time, but we do not. For us, screen time is an integral part of our day. The more I use computers and tablets for my son’s independent review, the more I find opportunities to use it!

Using Technology for Learning and Review

My son often reads books and scriptures on his tablet. In fact, Raisin has told me he prefers to read his books on his tablet rather than getting a physical copy from the library! He also loves listening to music as he does his chores, and he occasionally listens to audiobooks too. For math, we utilize Teaching Textbooks, which is a CD-ROM based curriculum. He loves it.

Computer time is important. Handwriting has always been a painful subject for him. (I believe he has dysgraphia.) Last year, I purchased a single-user subscription to Keyboarding without Tears. He loves it, and his typing skills have steadily improved. He now types at about 14 words per minute. Not bad for 8 years old! We’ll continue typing practice this year, and he won’t be required to do nearly as much handwriting (although there will be some, because I think it is important to practice).

So, as we move away from handwriting and toward typing, it seems natural that we likewise move toward technological assessment elsewhere.

Using Boom Cards as a Student

One resource we’re using in many subjects is Boom Cards from Boom Learning. This is a useful new app that provides digital task cards for students with instant assessment for the teachers.

From my son’s end, he can log in to his unique classroom and see right away what he must do. For each deck, he does 20 task cards at a time, he gets instant feedback as to whether his work is correct or not, and he can do it on either the computer or tablet! Twenty cards does not seem like too much for him, he doesn’t need me to grade him, and he always loves working on the computer.

A bonus is that while the app only delivers 20 task cards at a time, many more can be included in a deck. So, he can try again tomorrow and there will be different task cards on the same subject. I like that.

He can do the decks on our Android tablet or on the computer. We often do the fill-in-the-blank decks on the computer, simply because his old tablet has a small screen, and because he is often at the computer during school time. Other decks are multiple choice, so he clicks the correct choice on the tablet or phone. The app does require an internet connection in order to access the decks, so Raisin also does decks on my phone when we are out and about.

Raisin has done spelling and vocabulary decks, Spanish vocabulary decks, and I’m working on some social studies ideas!

I also let my 4-year-old daughter Strawberry “play” on Boom. She loves that she has her own classroom and log-in. I gave her some activities with letters, a rhyming pictures deck, and count to 10 decks. She love to have the opportunity to do “school” as well. I also recently made a game to “Match the baby to its mama.” Anything with babies and mamas is sure to delight my girl! Next up: I must make something with princesses at her demand.

Boom Cards lets me assign my kids' work, and then he can get instant assessment. It helps him be more independent in his studying.

Using Boom Cards as a Teacher

Now, I’m a homeschool mom, so my students are not the typical all-in-one-grade situation that teachers have. Obviously, the cards I want my 8-year-old son to do are different from those I’d suggest to my preschooler. It is so easy to create family differentiation in the app! I created two different classes in Boom, one called “PreK” and the other called “3rd/4th Grade.”  I also have a practice class for me to try out all the cards.

After the classes are set up, I review the decks I own. Then, by clicking on the deck, I can assign it to the correct class(es).

After my son has done the decks, I can see a lot of information.

  • How many cards from each deck he has finished
  • How many more unique cards he has to do in each deck
  • Which cards he has seen
  • What he answered (each time he tried)
  • The percentage correct (of what he’s seen so far)
  • How long the problem took him to answer on average

As the teacher, I can see the whole class at a glance, or look at a student's individual performance on a certain deck, including any incorrect answers.

I love how so easily I can gain a big picture view of the assignment! I was surprised by the things that were difficult and pleased by the things that came easily. It helps me know where he needs help, but also, he got the feedback immediately, so I was not standing over his shoulder as he worked.

For teachers who have a full class, you can get a glance at the entire class’s results easily!

Customizing Boom

The app is new, but the store has more and more decks being added each day. The store has freebies as well as for-pay decks. But the best part about Boom is that, with the Ultimate membership, you have the ability to make your own decks! This is perfect for homeschoolers, who may not follow a certain set of standards, or if you are studying something that is not in the store.

If I want, I can also sell those to other users (provided they have commercial-use-approved graphics of course).  The store even sells graphics you can add to your personal creations to make it more beautiful!

I am going to work with my son’s spelling lists in this app, because I know this is a way that will grab his attention and keep him involved in his learning. Strawberry already helped me make her own deck too, because that makes learning even more fun for her!

Note: The Starter Membership is FREE! The price for the other membership plans go up at the end of August! Get it now! 

Whether you need ready made or would like to make your own decks, I hope you will try Boom Learning. It is so convenient! If you are using tablets you can find Boom Cards on the App Store® and Google Play™. (Note: App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc. Google Play is a trademark of Google Inc. Boom Cards and Boom Learning are trademarks of Boom Learning Inc.)

More about Boom: You may already know Boom Learning by another name, Omega Labs, from their award winning app Mathtopia+, one of only 50 apps ever to be awarded 5 stars by Smart Apps for Kids. Boom Learning is brought to you the Omega Labs team of Eric and Mary Oemig with the generous support of Rachel Lynette. Senator Eric Oemig was instrumental in passing landmark education reform in the State of Washington. He is a former CTO of two startups and is CEO of Boom Learning. Mary has founded and ran an educational cooperative and regularly volunteers in the classroom so she can learn what real teachers need. She is also an attorney who practice privacy and intellectual property law. Rachel is founder of Minds in Bloom™, author of over 120 non-fiction children’s books, all-time top three seller on Teachers Pay Teachers®.

You can see my store to get a feel for the app! I offer the following decks for free: An ABC uppercase-lowercase matching game, Los Colores Spanish quiz, 1st grade reading Fundamentals Sampler.

How do you use technology for independent learning and review in your class or homeschool? Does this sound like something you would enjoy using? Let me know what you think!

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