How Boom Cards can Make Learning Fun in Music Class
This blost post is by my husband, Tim. Tim is a retired an award-winning instrumental music teacher having taught for forty years in all grade levels. I asked him if he’d like to discuss this cool learning tool he is creating and he said, “sure!”
Hello Everybody. I’m not very familiar with this blogging thing, but I’m going to try to explain my reasons for my Boom cards and why they work so efficiently in the classroom. I hope it helps you.
When the pandemic closed our schools, teachers scrambled for digital lessons. Folks, they were amazing!
Did anyone even notice how quickly, smoothly and expertly the teachers pivoted to on-line learning? I even shifted gears in record time and I’m not in the classroom.
Check out Deb’s post: Drama Lessons for Home-Bound Students or During the Corona Virus Quarantine
Teachers are rock stars!
What are Boom Cards?
Boom cards are self-grading digital flash cards that are gamified and provide teachers and parents the data they want. A teacher can use them for remedial instruction, review for a test or direct instruction. They are awesome. If you haven’t seen Boom Cards, check them out here: Boomcards.com
What are their strengths?
- Digital task cards (in this case Boom Cards) build a skill base for the twenty-first century learning tools.
- Digital task cards are flexible.
- They can be used on a wide variety of devices.
- They are a paperless resource–save those trees and ink.
- They are similar to all other digital task cards or digital apps.–they are easy to use and understand.
- Digital task cards are easy to share, give feedback and grade.
The Origin of My Boom Cards
It was the summer of 2020. During a FaceTime call with Diana, a fellow music teacher and coworker of my wife, we were discussing the challenges of trying to teach music classes virtually during the COVID pandemic. One of her frustrations was trying to teach rhythms to her students.
When teaching in person she usually used flash cards to drill note values and a counting system. Trying to do this through a computer or iPad screen was more than difficult. Before this conversation my wife had been creating some interactive task cards on a site called Boom™ Learning and suggested I create something that would be helpful.
Since I had been a music teacher and band director since the invention of dirt I had a few ideas and methods I had used, usually using a chalk or white board. After some experimentation on the Boom™ site, making examples on a music writing software program and several hit and misses I eventually came up with a format that I thought might work.
We visited Diana that following October and I showed her the few examples. After her enthusiastic response I then went to work and created several rhythm units for her specific needs. I shared these with her so she could try them with her students virtually and they seemed to work.
Recently Diana used these with her “in person” class by projecting the rhythms on a white board and working with her students on counting and clapping rhythms. To quote her after using my Boom™ Cards during a recent class, “…. It was magic….. It was truly amazing….they all stayed focused ……” I’m thinking I might be on to something.
Teaching with Games
While I was researching this post, I found this rationale for teaching with games from ACD.org a website for administrators, principals and teachers says:
In classrooms showing the greatest gains, teachers did specific things. To get similar results, teachers should games for these reasons.
Use inconsequential competition. In general, students like to compete as long as the stakes are not high. During a two-week unit of instruction, a teacher might organize students into teams of four students each. Teams might play games four or five times during that unit. Each time they play, the first three teams to complete the game receive points (for example, 3 points for the first team to finish, 2 points for the second team, and 1 point for the third team).
At the end of the unit, the teacher adds up the points for each team, and the three teams with the highest number of points get some inconsequential but fun reward, such as coupons to buy juice from the vending machines in the cafeteria.
Throughout the year, the teacher should reorganize the teams so all students have the experience of winning and losing. However, teachers must not factor game points into students’ grades for the unit. The points and rewards are simply for fun.
Target essential academic content. If games do not focus on important academic content, they will have little or no effect on student achievement and waste valuable classroom time. The most efficient way to maintain an academic focus is to organize games around important terms and phrases. For example, during a unit on dance moves, a dance teacher might identify terms and phrases such as axial movement, line of gravity, movement phrase, and nonlocomotor movement. Questions and answers would involve information important to these terms and phrases.
How Do I Use Boom Cards in My Music Class
Debrief the game. The most common error teachers make when using games is to add up team points and move on. The whole point of playing academic games in the classroom is to provide opportunities for students to examine important content in a lively and enjoyable venue. To stimulate analysis of important terms and phrases, a teacher can ask students which questions were difficult to answer and why.
For example, suppose that during a game of Pictionary in a mathematics class, students had difficulty drawing an image to represent the Fibonacci sequence. At the conclusion of the game, the teacher would ask students about their difficulties with this item. The discussion would serve as a brief review of the defining characteristics of a Fibonacci sequence.
Have students revise their notes. One generalization that applies to learning all types of content is that students must have opportunities to revise their understanding of the content as time goes by. When a game has ended and the class has discussed difficult terms and concepts related to the content, the teacher should give students time to revise their notes. A teacher might ask students to look over what they have previously written about this content in their notes and make any necessary changes. This might involve correcting misconceptions or adding new information that the students were unaware of.
Pretty wonderful, huh? Here is another post about using games in the classroom: Games + Teaching Method= Our Students Win!
HOW DO I USE BOOM CARDS IN MY MUSIC CLASSROOM? If I were you, I’d assign Boom Cards for distance learning or use them as differentiated instruction in the classroom. You could introduce a unit with the Boom Cards, assign them as homework for those with WiFi access or make them part of the lesson for the day.
As of this writing, I have 50 decks of Boom Cards.
My Boom deck contains:
- Twenty–five digital flash cards
- Colorful and easy to read
I have created rhythm boom cards in just about as many ways to learn as possible–rhythm question/counting answer, counting question/rhythm answer, audio question/rhythm answer, rhythm question/audio answer, audio question/counting answers. Whew!
A teacher can:
- use them in group instruction or individual student drill/ assessment
- use at home or in the classroom
- view student’s progress
- Use in elementary music theory, ear training and ensemble performance techniques
My Boom cards are true outcome based learning–if an incorrect answer is selected, the student is able to select from the remaining answers
I hope you’ll take a look at my Boom Cards at: TBMusic
or in my teacherspayteachers.com store at TBMusic
This is Deb again. I hope you enjoyed learning about Tim’s Boom cards. He has a bunch of music ideas up his sleeve which he’ll unveil in time. Come back and see what’s new soon!