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

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.



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!


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!  🙂



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:


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!


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