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iPads in the Classroom October 5, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — caffeinatedteaching @ 8:03 PM
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I believe 100% in utilizing technology to engage my students as learners, incorporate their interests into their learning, allow for differentiation and teach/model digital citizenship.

One way I incorporate technology is with mobile devices accessing Apps.  I have been using my iPad in my first grade classroom for a couple of years now.  Prior to using my iPad I was using my iPhone with my students.

There have been many Apps through the years that my students and I have enjoyed using.

I thought I would take a moment and share some of the apps I like in the hopes you will add to my list!  Our school is looking at adding iPads into our classrooms and I would love to know what apps I might be missing!

1.  Word Wizard

    Word Wizard allows my students to build words while hearing their sounds.  It also has a spelling practice component.  

2.  Train Phonics (CVC)

Train Phonics provides sound matching with consonant-vowel-consonant words.  

3.  Lakeshore Learning Materials – I believe this company puts out quality products and have some of their software for my interactive projector.  I was elated when I discovered they are now producing Apps!

One of their Apps is Letter of The Day and we have been using it to review letters and sounds as well as handwriting to start our first grade year.  

4.  For math, I discovered Apps created by Classroom Focused Software.  Wow!  They cover many of our number sense concepts in first grade.  One of their Apps is What’s Hiding? where they utilize ten-frames to practice missing addends- if I know I have 10 and 3 are shown, how many are missing?  Some of their other apps are:  Word Problems, Count Sort, Pattern Sets, Thinking of a Number, What Time….and that’s just to name a few!

5.  Also for math I use Hands-On Math Hundreds Chart by Ventura Educational Systems which gives you an interactive hundreds chart.  They also have an App for place value using place value blocks.

6.  For Social Studies we created a Stop Motion Animated Short (very short) film using our school map.  We used the App, iMotion HD to create this:

Our Map Movie

This is a short list compared to the amount of Apps I use…but it’s a start!  Please share with me the Apps you like too!


Digital Stories June 9, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — caffeinatedteaching @ 3:43 PM

Next week, I will be helping other teachers to use Storybird, but want to also introduce other sites available to them to use in the primary classroom.  I have been playing around with Little Bird Tales and created this story using photos from a science lesson: (It will play like a movie.  You have an option to record your voice, which I did not do.)


What sites do you use for writing in your classroom?


Social Citizens March 24, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — caffeinatedteaching @ 11:03 AM
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Our school is participating in the Pelotonia as virtual riders to raise funds for cancer research. If you are interested in donating to this cause, please donate using my participant number – BS0068.

We have all had our lives touch by, affected by or changed forever by cancer. Help find/fund the cure!

Our school is making this event real to our students by having a bike-a-thon at school as well as raising the funds to help support the Pelotonia.

What events have your schools done this year to support events or causes in your communities?


Why I “Daily 5” September 9, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — caffeinatedteaching @ 8:41 PM
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You may be familiar with the book, “the daily 5 – Fostering Literacy Independence In The Elementary Grades.” If not, you need to become familiar with it. The authors are Gail Boushey & Joan Moser who are known as “the sisters.”

I implemented Daily 5 into my first grade classroom several years ago when my principal strongly encouraged it. 🙂 Prior to Daily 5, I was using centers as a means for the students to have something valid to work on while I instructed reading groups. I will admit, I was never a fan of centers. They take a lot of time to set up each week and you had to have many options available for the student that was “done” by Wednesday. I felt the amount of available centers was overwhelming to students who were emergent or struggling readers to the point they didn’t even know where to begin. So I was open to a new approach when I cracked open the cover of the daily 5 book.

Simply put and in my own words, Daily 5 is a management style and not curriculum. Instead Of multiple choices, students are given a choice between 5 activities which are clearly defined, modeled and practiced.

The 5 choices or categories are:
Read to Self
Read to Someone
Listen to Reading
Work on Writing
Work on Words


I follow the book quite closely in regard to Read to Self and Read to Someone. My students have book boxes where they keep classroom library books and books they make. They also have their reading group books with them during this time as well as their poetry folders.

For listen to reading I still have books on tape being utilized as well as listening to animated storybooks on Tumblebooks on the computers which we access through our local library.

During work on writing, my class has a journal, a book of lists, a book/movie review book and a book of friendly letters.

During work on words, there are a multitude of choices some of which include: making words with magnet letters, making sentences with magnet words, writing around the room on white boards, reading around the room with pointers, making words using set letters on a chart, boggle, letter puzzles, memory games, etc. I also have a computer dedicated to work on words where we access Spelling City. On this site I can preset a list of words and the games created use the created list.


During Daily 5, I meet with a reading group, a comprehension group or a student one-to-one. Then, we all meet together for a mini-lesson, then the students select a new choice while I meet with another group or student. Then another mini-lesson, etc. The mini-lessons are great for comprehension or reading accuracy strategies as well as phonics/word work lessons. They also allow for time to showcase student work. They also provide a break from independent work time.

Daily 5 has freed me from weekly center creation as well as reviewing stacks of papers the students turned in from center work. Daily 5 has allowed my students to clearly know the expectations and have success at each stage of their morning choices and grow as readers and writers.

Do you Daily 5? I do! And I think you should too! 🙂

Please share some of your Daily 5 successes. I would love some new ideas! Also, feel free to ask any questions you might have regarding Daily 5.


Visual Presentation August 17, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — caffeinatedteaching @ 7:33 PM

Meet The Teacher

The above link is the PDF file for the presentation I am sharing with you:

What have you been doing all summer?  Don’t you just love that question?!?  It always implies we have been busy doing nothing but relaxing poolside.  Now I love relaxing poolside, but I have also been busy learning new things and developing new ideas.  One thing I worked on this summer was taking my curriculum night/meet the teacher presentation and making it a visual presentation.

I utilized Keynote for Mac.  I started on my MacBook, but then ended up loving editing it on my iPad.  I found the Keynote App for iPad very user freindly and less intimidating then the full version of Keynote.  I chose to use the black background so my images and words would pop.

On curriculum/meet the teacher night, I will be projecting my iPad directly through a projector in my classroom.  The Keynote App will give me an elapsed time of my presentation and allow me to control the presentation through my iPhone Keynote Remote.

I found assembling the curriculum night packets much easier because I have eliminated the paper that went with the presentation.  Now the parents will watch my Keynote as I present the information, without the need for handouts.

I then posted the presentation onto my teacher website so they could review it at a later date or if they miss the evening, can watch it there.

The presentation I posted has gone from my iPad to my MacBook and then into PDF format, so it is missing effects and I did omit identifying information, but it gives you the basic idea of what I created.

Constructive criticism is welcome.

Please share what you have been working on this summer….when you haven’t been poolside! 🙂

Here’s to a great school year!


Comic Writing July 6, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — caffeinatedteaching @ 9:49 PM

In first grade I do my best to provide many ways for students to write – especially reluctant writers!

One strategy I found that students enjoy is writing comics.  It is my opinion that they enjoy comic writing because it allows for creative drawing along with speech bubbles that appear as a small writing space.  What they don’t realize is they are telling stories through their pictures as well as their speech bubbles and their final product is a story with a beginning, middle and end!

This past school year I had a reluctant writer who really latched onto comic writing and he shared this site with me and I am passing it on to all of you. He was extending his comic writing at home, on the Internet, independently!  Love it!


Blogging in the Primary Classroom March 26, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — caffeinatedteaching @ 12:56 PM

I admit – I was skeptical at first.

I was told to try implementing as much technology as possible into my classroom this year.

Now remember, I said skeptical, not opposed. 🙂

I teach first grade and have 5 computers in my classroom. Where do I begin? I had been using technology, but this required me bringing in my own equipment and resources.

My goal was to find Internet based technology resources that could also be used by my students on their own time, outside of school.

And I do have to say, I believe I have succeeded on that level.

One resource I want to share is blogging. I have been able to blog with my first graders within our classroom as well as outside of our classroom. I have also been able to incorporate reading, writing, word study, math, science and social studies into our blog while teaching digital citizenship along the way.

I currently use KIDBLOG.

This site allows me to choose if our blog will be public or private. Mine is currently private. So, you need a log-in name and password to sign in.  I also find it very user friendly when setting up your class and creating posts.

When I started the blog at the beginning of this school year, it was more of a discussion thread. I would post and the students would reply to my post. As they became comfortable and familiar with the format of the blog, I opened it up and allowed them to have their own “blog” post. Oh my! They handled this like pros! I still direct what they are blogging, but they are creating their own posts on the topic and then responding to each other, which is helping them understand how to reply to their peers in constructive and positive ways.

Some ideas I have used for all academic subjects are:

  • For math, my students have written their own word problems and then solved the problems their peers posted. I included on the blog a link to online math “emanipulatives” they could use to help them solve the problems. The link I used was EDUPLACE by Houghton Mifflin.
  • For writing I posted pictures and had them write details about the picture.  Then, we used their details to write a full class story about the picture.  This was very fun!
  • For reading, we posted reviews about our favorite books and why others may like the book as well.
  • For word study I posted videos from MR. THORNE.(Which by the way, I love this site!) The students would watch a video on blends, then create a list of words starting with the blends in the video and then use their list to write sentences using those words.  Their creativity was amazing!
  • For social studies we blogged about cultures we learned about in class and which our favorite was and why.
  • For science I posted videos from YOUTUBE about the topic we were learning such as recycling. Then the students would blog about what they recycled, reduced or reused in their homes. I have never had such a great list of ways to help our environment!

And the list could go on…

Blogging has allowed our learning to grow from within the walls of our classroom to our homes while teaching positive digital citizenship.

I recently submitted a proposal to teach other teachers about blogging in the primary classroom.  I would love your suggestions!  Do you blog?  What site do you use?  What do you blog about?

Thanks in advance for your support and ideas! 🙂


Motivation and Classroom Behavior January 22, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — caffeinatedteaching @ 11:33 AM

I was so excited to watch this RSA Animate on the book Drive by Daniel Pink! It coincides with the classroom management plan I use, so I thought I would share it. I find it very successful. Watch the video and then come back and read about what I use in the classroom and then share your own ideas!

In the past I use to reward behaviors in the classroom. You know – like holding a carrot out to be eaten once the goal is achieved:

These incentive programs took a lot of time for creating, implementing and following through with. I also found that the same students were achieving the rewards for the group as a whole or for themselves and the students these programs were put in place for really didn’t care about the reward.

One reward “event” I will always remember was a Pajama Day…there was a student in tears because they did NOT want to wear their pajamas to school! Now, how is that a reward?!?!

So, what to do?

As a teacher, we have to create an atmosphere where 20 or more students participate, learn and get along with each other within our classroom.

Our school guidance counselor shared the following information with our staff and I have used it ever since!

I base the behavior management in my classroom on the hierarchy of social development as defined in the book, Discipline without Stress, Punishment or Rewards by Dr. Marvin Marshall.

Within this structure, there are 4 basic levels of behavior:

D – Democracy – Just Do it or I Did It Myself
This is when we follow a rule because we know it is a rule and it’s the right thing to do. (internal motivation)

C – Cooperation – I Care Enough To Follow The Rules When Asked Or Reminded
This is when we follow a rule because we were reminded of the rule or when someone was watching our behaviors. (external motivation)

D and C behavior levels are the expectation of all students in my classroom.

B – Bullying, Bothering, Bossing and Blurting
These behaviors bother others and stop learning from happening. Bossing is defined in my classroom as making your own rules as well as telling others what to do.

A – Anarchy – Not Doing It At All
This is when rules are repeatedly not followed even with reminders and redirection.

I model all of these levels for my class in various ways from how to ride on a bus to blowing your nose and brushing your teeth. We also discuss them as we see the behaviors from characters in books that we read. They learn them so quickly because they make sense.

We all make mistakes! If a child needs reminders and redirection, I always give that in a positive manner. If a child needs constant assistance, they describe for me their current behavior and then make their own plan for getting back on track in the classroom. I find this to be extremely motivating for them.

Daniel Pink stated, “…treat people like people, not horses.” I agree with this and believe the research translates from the business world into the classroom. He outlined 3 factors:
Autonomy: Self Directed; More Engagement

Mastery: Getting Better at Things

Purpose: Make a Contribution

Wow! If we build more and more upon intrinsic motivation and less on rewards, I believe students will achieve higher results for their own mastery and purpose and by teaching in new and innovative ways allowing for autonomy and creating more engagement is part of this!

Ideas? What works for you and your students? Please share!

Thank you to homeschooling-paradise for the clipart. 🙂


Writing Ideas for Storybird January 6, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — caffeinatedteaching @ 5:19 PM

I received a comment about assignment ideas on Storybird in relation to my post on using Storybird in the classroom.  Thanks Terese for making me think!  I have been brainstorming all day on my “backburner” and decided to compose a list of ideas.  Please comment if you have other ideas!  We all can benefit from sharing! 🙂

•Limit to 3 pictures to write a story beginning, middle and end to.  This may help some students who can get lost in the selection process of the art.

•Have students select one picture and then write sentences utilizing as many details as possible from the picture.

•Assign different steps of the writing process.  For example, just a story starter assignment.

•Relate the assignment to word study where students have to use as many s blends or _ay words as possible in their story.

•Related the assignment to word study lessons where students have to use synonyms, antonyms, homophones, compound words, contractions, alliteration, personification, etc.

•Challenge them to make a rhyming story.

•Have them put themselves into the story as a character in the story, interacting with the characters in the art they chose.

•Dig into your content standards for science and social studies and assign a theme to write about. For example, have the characters in the art share what you learned about animals, life in different cultures, etc.

•Just like the above idea, although this one may be trickier, look into your math standards or topics and assign writing a book about how to solve a problem or simply use a picture to write a number story/word problem.

•Assign specific artists that have enough pieces to create an ABC book.  Make this general or an ABC book based on a theme to show things they learned during another unit of study.

•Assign a specific artist to use for their stories.  It would be great to see so many different ideas come from the same picture!

•Utilize the collaboration feature of Storybird to pair each child with a buddy to create a story together.  Think buddy classrooms within a school or your own class.  Don’t limit yourself to just your school building.  Reach out to collaborate across your district, town, state, country….you get the idea! 🙂

•Assign different types of writings: poetry, dialogue, plays, friendly letters (or characters corresponding to each other), science fiction, etc.

Remember you can create more than one “class” on Storybird, so you can customize your assignments to fit different levels and styles of learning.

Happy writing and assignment creating to all of you!  Please comment and share an idea you have or a specific way you have used Storybird.  Thanks!


Changing Education January 5, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — caffeinatedteaching @ 10:29 PM

If you have not seen this RSA Animate regarding Sir Ken Robinson’s Changing Education Paradigms, you need to:

Changing Education

How do we design education to fit our age?

How do we define our age?

I want to wake kids up!  I want to be part of creating aesthetic experiences where my students are present in the current moment of learning and as Sir Ken Robinson states, fully alive!

Imagine….what would YOU do with a paperclip?

Your thoughts?  Please comment…


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