A place where we can let our thoughts "percolate" and join in the conversation.

ADE Application March 28, 2013

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This is the video I submitted with the Apple Distinguished Educator Application for the Class of 2013. I was not chosen for the 2013 Class, but hope to resubmit next year. Let me know what you think of this application and what I could do to make it better for next year’s application. Thank you!


Staying Connected March 4, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — caffeinatedteaching @ 7:02 PM
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Several years ago, my daughter’s teacher called her on speakerphone for the class to say hi when she had been out for several consecutive days. This simple 30 second phone call made her day! After seeing the impact personally of reaching out to a sick student, I have tried my best as a teacher to do the same.


Smartphones make this extremely easy to do and the time is well spent when you understand the positive impact this makes on the child who is absent.

On Valentine’s Day, my class had a classmate that had been out for 3 days and we knew would also not be in attendance the following day. I contacted her parents through email to find a good contact phone number and time to call. They offered Skype. I am personally a FaceTime user, but did have a Skype account established, so I said ok. We set a time and our class phoned through.


It was a positive experience for all. It made my sick student’s day to see that all of her friends cared about her and missed her. It was also great for the class to have the opportunity to see their friend, since she had been absent for several days. She was also missing a big party in first grade, so it gave everyone an opportunity to offer holiday wishes as well.

During the course of the video call, I mentioned her pillow. Such a simple statement at the time. I was just stating the obvious…her pink pillow was really quite cool! It was this simple statement that her father mentioned to me in an email after the call. He told me how much she loved hearing from us, but most of all how great it was that I loved her pillow!

We can get so caught up in the standards and reports and data and all of the ins and outs of technology implementation that I think it can be easy to forget about the pillows.

I had a colleague ask me today how to integrate an iPad into the classroom when there was only 1 iPad and many students. A certain pink pillow came to mind. Stay connected. It’s easy. And current technologies make it even easier.



iPads for Literacy February 4, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — caffeinatedteaching @ 3:11 PM
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We are so excited for the arrival of our new iPad Minis later this week!  We will be utilizing these iPad Minis exclusively for the literacy development of our first grade students that have been identified as “at risk” under the new definitions for the Third Grade Reading Guarantee.  

We will be loading them with literacy building Apps that provide audio and visual support to literacy development, writing creation and just-right books.  

We will be allowing movement of the iPad Minis between intervention teachers so these students have the additional supports with them in all of their learning environments.  

I am so excited for this project to begin!  Thank you Gahanna-Jefferson Education Foundation for making it possible!







2012 in review January 3, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — caffeinatedteaching @ 9:14 PM

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.  Thanks helper monkeys!  This is fun to check out!  Here’s to more blogging in the New Year!!!

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.


Organized Sign Ups December 29, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — caffeinatedteaching @ 9:24 AM
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When scheduling and organizing parent conferences or other sign ups such as needed supplies for a class project, does your desk look like this?

I know mine does! For example to schedule parent conferences I send a letter home, which comes back to me with hopefully 3 times that would work best for the parent. Then I have to assign time slots to fit into the two conference nights, hopefully meeting everyone’s needs.

This time I tried something new!

Sign Up Genius

I created a sign up through Sign Up Genius, which then emailed a link to the parents in my classroom. Parents accessed my sign up through the link and selected their own time slot!

No more paper passing! No more puzzling through selecting time slots! What a time saver for both myself and the parents in my classroom! I even selected that Sign Up Genius will remind parents of their conference 2 days before their scheduled time.

I am also using Sign Up Genius to allow parents to select different food items to bring in for an upcoming writing project. Again, no paper passing, assigning of items, etc.

I love when technology works to make tasks simpler so I can focus more on my students and creating creative learning projects and less on paperwork!


GarageBand Fluency December 11, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — caffeinatedteaching @ 8:42 PM
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I am very excited to share this with you!  A sample can be clicked at the bottom of this post…

We created read-a-loud books to help develop our fluency.  Each student in my first grade classroom are making their own GarageBand read-a-louds.

This is a project I did with my class several years ago, but it required me bringing in my MacBook from home and then editing and burning CDs at home for parents.

This year I was able to use GarageBand for iPad and then email parents the completed sound file.

After modeling how to use GarageBand for this activity, my first grade students were able to record their voices independently and manipulate the sound effects to complete their stories.


They love their finished projects!

We used two lines of sound in GarageBand.  The top line is their audio recordings for each page with a page turn sound effect between pages.  The second line holds background music as well as a final sound effect.  Image

The smiles on their faces are worth every moment I spent preparing this activity for them! 🙂

Here is a sample from one of my students!  STUDENT SAMPLE


Angry Birds Do Math November 27, 2012


In my quest to utilize technology and keep learning relevant to my students, we subtracted with Angry Birds today.  It was a hit!  We recorded how many birds and piggies we started with on a level.  Then we subtracted to discover answers to story problems as we played.

Here are some story problems related to Angry Birds:

We started with 4 birds.  We now have only 1 bird left.  How many birds have I used?  (4 – ? = 1)

We started with 4 birds.  We used 2 birds.  How many birds do we have left? (4 – 2 = ?)

There are 8 piggies.  We hit 3 piggies.  How many piggies are left?  (8 – 3 = ?)

There were 8 piggies at the start of the game.  There are now 2 piggies.  How many piggies have we been able to hit? (8 – ? = 2)

We have 10 piggies and 6 birds.  How many more piggies do we have than birds?  (10 – 6 = ?)


And using other math concepts:

How many piggies do we have to get?  How many birds do we have at the start of the game?  Do we have more birds or piggies?  ( >, <, =)

We have 4 birds.  How many are red and how many are yellow? (number combinations)

We have a little blue bird.  When I hit the screen, the bird multiplies to 3.  How many birds were added? (1 + ? = 3)

How many birds and piggies are there in total?

If I have 5 birds and 10 piggies, how many piggies do I need to hit with each bird to win the game? (multiplication)


Have you used Angry Birds in the classroom?  Please share your thoughts and ideas!  🙂



Magic of Collaboration November 16, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — caffeinatedteaching @ 6:01 AM

This magician shows us just how magical collaboration can be…



A Must See – Numberlys October 20, 2012

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Remember “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom?”

You have got to experience The Numberlys…by Moonbot Studios


This is an interactive story App for the iPad – it is worth the money. 🙂

The Numberlys App


Online Learning with ScootPad October 19, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — caffeinatedteaching @ 6:48 PM
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I was introduced to this site by Kelly Tenkely, the author of  iLearn Technology blog.  I read her review and opinion and checked it out for myself and am now sharing it with you!  So thanks Kelly for sharing!

The site is ScootPad and it offers online practice for students in grades K-5 based on the Common Core Standards in Reading and Math.  And….it’s free.  Yes…’s free!

Update:  ScootPad is now offering Premium Features at a monthly rate of $4.99/classroom.  Their basic features are still FREE!  If you are interested in joining, please use this link and help out our classroom in the process with our monthly fees and hopefully someone down the road will do the same for you! The link takes you to my teacher page with ScootPad and then you click on the Sign Up button on the top.

Then, once your account is created, go to your Settings Page, Under Profile Tab click the Referred By link and enter  my name – Betsy Spence –  It should let you find my name at Blacklick Elementary.  It’s that easy!  Thank you!

I am using ScootPad in my first grade classroom. ScootPad also has invitations for parents so they can also see their child’s progress.  And remember, since this is an Internet based program…once you have established a log in for your students, they can log on at home and practice there as well.  ScootPad works at their individual learning pace and your set learning achievement goals so the more they practice, not only will their skill base grow, but they will move onto other learning targets.

It is also very easy to view data on your students and create practice lessons in areas you determine they need more practice on.

ScootPad also offers homework integration.  For example your could have your students complete their reading logs online through their ScootPad account.

And yes…there is also an App for this!

This is a short video showing you some of the features of ScootPad:


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