Casey’s Top Teacher Tech Tips & Tricks

Casey’s Top Teacher Tech Tips & Tricks

Written by Casey Keyser, MSEA Third Grade Teacher

Let’s chat about technology! Integrating technology into the classroom is my passion. It is an amazing way to engage your students in the content and to complete activities you wouldn’t have the means to do otherwise.


tech and school tips


My first pro-tip about tech in the classroom is this… DO NOT use technology just for the sake of using technology.. I will also never advocate for technology to be used 24/7. Technology needs to be purposeful and planned to help build the lesson up, not be the center of the lesson. Well, unless you are teaching a lesson on how to use a search engine on the Internet (which by the way, needs to be explicitly taught.)  If the lesson you are planning is better served with a paper/pencil, journal, or hands-on manipulatives… do that instead.

If you are not familiar with the SAMR model, please take a moment to check it out here.


tech and school tips

Now let’s dive into some technology uses for classrooms. I have a few favorite categories I like to use technology for. These are not content or grade-level specific so they can be used for any topic. We’re going to chat about integrating music, video, reading, and assessments tech tools into your classroom. If you use these categories when you are planning lessons, chances are, you will fill your classroom with engagement and excitement.

First up… Music technology.

Let’s talk about the amazing website Flocabulary. This incredible company creates educational hip-hop songs, videos, and additional educational materials to use in the class. They have topics anywhere from Reading and Science to Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). You can find songs to teach topics in all grade levels Pre-K to 12. They are so fun and engaging to learn with your students in a whole group setting or assigned to them individually. You are able to have a FREE 45-day trial of Flocabulary the first time you sign up, it is totally worth the try!

If you, your school, or your district subscribes to Flocabulary, I highly encourage you to check out this Flocabulary Accountability playlist. This template is used when students complete a Flocabulary Playlist online. You can either print one for students to use or have a PDF option for Kami or Google Slides online. This allows students to have a paper/note-taking option to build their planning skills. As a teacher, it also makes grading their assignment a lot easier because I can see their work while they work through the lessons. Integrating music into any content is a great way to help students remember what they are learning and become creative enough to write their own lyrics.


tech and school tips


Next up… Video technology.

My student’s favorite tech tool is Flipgrid. This tool is a simple, free, and accessible video discussion experience for learners and families. You can start a discussion and engage students and their community with one click of a green plus sign. Your students get to add personalized touches by adding a selfie cover photo and stickers to help support the topic. To learn more about Flipgrid check out this super helpful Getting Started video.

I never let my students go live on Flipgrid unless they have planned out their script beforehand. I use these quick and easy templates to help them get organized and started. Grab these easy-to-print Flipgrid Video Templates here.


tech and school tips


Another classroom pro tech tip, is to never let students use a new piece of technology for academic purposes first. They will not be engaged in learning the intended content or feel successful in learning how to use the new tech tool. Instead, ALWAYS onboard your students by having a fun intro activity to the tech tool/website. For example, have the students complete a building community activity such as Two Truths, One Lie using Flipgrid first. That way, they become familiar with the tool and not necessarily on the content at hand. This also allows the other students to watch their classmates’ videos and respond. All the practice is learning how to use the tech tool so that when it comes to your next lesson, they are ready!

Third in the queue… Reading!

When I want to add a reading component in my technology rotation, I look to the Book website to help provide my students with book collections curated for them on any topic. You can add books, audiobooks, video,s and read-aloud books to a collection and assign them to your students. I also want my students to be able to create their own collections of books.  First, I have them create collections of hobbies and favorites to share with their classmates, and then I have them create book collections on topics we are currently researching. I use my Epic! books collection sheet to have them write down all the books they find on a topic.


tech and school tips


Using keywords and search tools are just a few essential skills students should learn about researching. Not to mention, Epic! books can help foster a love for reading and exposing them to all types of genres.

On to Assessments… yay!

There are so many amazing assessment tools out there, but I wanted to give examples of both high and low tech.

My new favorite tech tool is called Factile; this website has a free and paid version. As a teacher that NEVER pays for ANY tech tool, I love being able to have up to 5 teams for free. Here is a little trick to have your entire class be able to all play at the same time.

Split your class into 5 groups and assign a team leader to be the reporter of answers. Give every student a piece of blank paper and an invisible ink pen. I get the ones that have the black light on the top of the cap and I buy online in bulk and they last forever. Then the entire class writes down their answers to the assessment questions as we go and only the reporter turns in the answer. This way students can’t see each other’s answers and won’t be embarrassed to try each question. Pro tech in the classroom tip, you can use this trick with most of the online assessment tools.


tech and school tips


Last but not least… a classic,  

I know that most teachers have already heard of Kahoot!, however, I have been able to add a little spin on it. I am always looking for ways to give my students more control over their own learning, so why not have them create the Kahoot!?.

I have my students use this template (paper and digital option) to write their own Kahoot! Assessment questions for any topic. They have used this template for Science, two-step word problems, main idea comprehension questions, phonics and so much more. The sky is the limit with what they can create.


tech and school tips


I also use my low-tech printable Kahoot! buzzers to allow the class to play on days we don’t have access to our devices. You can start an online assessment as a whole class on one teacher projector and have them tap their fingers on their decks to answer each question. I walk around the room with a clipboard to tally up an idea of the student’s understanding. You can find that Kahoot! Template and buzzer here!


tech and school tips


Don’t let barriers, like thinking ‘I’m not a “techy” person’ or ‘my school doesn’t have the technology available’, block you from trying a new tech tool in your classroom. I challenge you to try one new tech tool the first month of school. Let your students (and yourself) explore the tech tool first in a fun way, then dive right in with your content. You got this!



guest blogger


Casey Keyser is a third-grade teacher at Butterfly Ridge Elementary in Frederick County, Maryland. She was recently recognized as the national winner of the NEA Foundation’s 2021 Teaching in Excellence Award. Casey is the proud owner of the Education Resource Blog, Fair Winds Teaching, and loves to connect with her education community through her TeacherPayTeacher’s business.


What is Rubbernecking?

What is Rubbernecking?

It’s tempting to look when you drive by an accident. You slow down and glance back, taking your eyes off the road for a brief moment. It’s a practice called rubbernecking, and it is a form of distracted driving.

The term rubbernecking dates back to the late 1890s, to describe people who turned their heads to listen to other people’s conversations. By the early 1900s, rubbernecking was used to describe tourists striving to see everything from their seats in wagons, cars, and buses. Today, it is a term for motorists who slow down, craning their necks to see an accident, usually on the other side of the road.


Why do we rubberneck?

Blame it on our natural curiosity. Those flashing lights attract our attention. We may be concerned about the people involved in the accident. We want to find out what’s going on.  We can’t seem to look away, a reaction that may be tied to our fight-or-flight instinct. Our brain is evaluating the threat.

While rubbernecking may be a natural response, it is not a safe one. Here’s what you need to know about rubbernecking, including how to keep yourself safe on the road.



 Is distracted driving.

    • A glance away of just 5 seconds when you’re traveling 55 mph means you have traveled the length of a football field without looking at where you were going!


 Delays your response time.

    • When you take your eyes off the road, you miss seeing brake lights, traffic lights, and pedestrians. By the time you see them, it may be too late to avoid a car accident.


 Causes accidents.


Can also cause traffic jams.

    • Rubbernecking starts a chain reaction of braking, which slows everyone down even though there is no real barrier on the road ahead.



Tips to Prevent Rubber Necking

Follow these steps to keep you and your passengers safe.

    • Keep your eyes on the road. Resist the urge to look.
    • Turn on your blinkers so cars behind you know you are slowing down.
    • Ask your passengers to refrain from rubbernecking or taking photos or videos of the accident. Their movements in the car to get a good picture could cause added distractions or a blind spot for you, the driver.
    • Be extra careful driving by a crash. Know that other drivers may not be paying attention because they’re rubbernecking.
    • If you don’t have to be on the road during busy times, you may be able to avoid the holiday traffic and the potential for rubbernecking.

Using crash screens can also help reduce rubbernecking. A University of Florida study found that screens that blocked the view of an accident were effective in reducing rubbernecking.

We are still in the 100 Deadliest Days, so remember as you get on the road this summer, travel safely. And if you see an accident, try your best to keep your eyes on the road ahead.



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or


Firefighters’ Summertime Do’s and Don’ts

Firefighters’ Summertime Do’s and Don’ts

Firefighting is a hot job no matter when you do it. But during the summer months, with all that extra heat and humidity, it can be brutal. How do you keep your cool — and cool down? Read on.

A blazing fire can be 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. In your heavy gear, the perspiration builds up and your core temperature can be as high as 160 degrees. After 20 minutes, you’re exhausted.  Couple that with a hot summer’s day and it seems like there’s no relief in sight. 

Here are some “do’s and don’ts” to help you cool down and stay safe on a hot summer’s day on and off duty.


Do: Stay hydrated.

Water is your drink of choice. (Or try coconut water which contains potassium, a great source of electrolytes.) Drink water whether you are thirsty or not. And drink it three days leading up to your shift—because it will help keep you hydrated. When you’re fighting an active fire, your body will evaporate 1 liter of sweat for each hour of work. Make sure to replace that loss by drinking electrolyte beverages as soon as you are able.

Don’t: Drink caffeinated beverages, sugared drinks, or alcohol. 

Caffeine constricts blood vessels which makes you warm. Coffee, tea and caffeinated beverages are a diuretic, which means they cause you to urinate. Sugary drinks actually make you thirsty and can provide a crash in energy. Alcohol causes dehydration. Drink it the night before your shift and you will feel the effects the next day.


Do: Eat for the heat.

That means light healthy meals so your body doesn’t have to work as hard to process them. Include foods that help replenish electrolytes that are lost through sweating. These include watermelon, peaches, apricots, and radishes. Leafy greens also contain a large percentage of water, which helps keep you hydrated.

Don’t: Eat a heavy meal.

It takes a lot of energy for our bodies to digest a steak dinner. When our body breaks down protein, it creates heat. You don’t have to eliminate meat altogether; just take it easy and substitute more carbs.


Do: Stay physically fit.

When you’re in shape, you have a lower heart rate and body temperature. This allows you to adjust to heat stress twice as fast as your fellow Americans who are unfit.

Don’t: Push your physical limits.

It takes time to acclimate to working in the heat. Start gradually and increase over time. It takes about 10-14 days to get used to it. Listen to your body. It will tell you when you’re ready for a break.


Don’t: Run the air conditioner on the way to the fire.

The temperature change from cool to very, very hot can affect your body. Instead, keep the windows open and the air blowing but the air conditioning off on the way to a call.

Do: Use ice, water, and cooling technology.

Set up a bucket filled with ice water so that you can immerse your hands and forearms. Put a damp towel in the freezer and wrap it around the back of your neck when you need relief. Apply cold pressure to other pulse points: your wrist, chest, temples. Spritz yourself with a garden hose; dribble water down the back of your neck from your water bottle. Try a cold pack vest if it fits under your gear. But stay away from misting fans in a humid environment. They’re good for dry environments, but in high humidity, these fans can increase the chance of burns.


Don’t: Ignore the symptoms of heatstroke.

More than 700 people die each year from the heat. If you are feeling warm, light-headed or experiencing muscle cramps, get out of your jacket to let the heat escape. Apply icepacks to your forearms. 

If you experience any of the symptoms of heatstroke, seek help immediately:

    • Body temperature above 103 Fahrenheit
    • Dizziness
    • Nausea
    • Headache
    • Red, hot and dry skin
    • Rapid heartbeat
    • Confusion

For more information on First Responder heat stress prevention, click here. 


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

Outdoor Recreational Safety Tips

Outdoor Recreational Safety Tips

Summer is the perfect time for outdoor adventures. Whether you like hiking, biking, swimming or camping, there are plenty of activities to enjoy and places to explore. 

While we have fun, it’s also important to remember that sometimes our outdoor excursions come with unexpected risks. From weather to wildlife encounters, make sure you and your family take the right precautions to stay safe. Follow these tips as you enjoy the great outdoors this summer.


Tips for Water Safety

In the U.S., 11 people die from drowning each day, according to the CDC. Children ages 1-4 are at the greatest risk, but drowning is also the second leading cause of accidental death among children ages 1-14. 

These tragedies can be easily prevented with simple pool safety and water safety measures.

    • Never swim alone. If possible, swim in the presence of a lifeguard.
    • Teach children to swim. Even toddlers can learn water survival skills, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. But remember that swim lessons do not guarantee your child can protect himself/herself from drowning.
    • Designate a water watcher whenever your child is in the water. Avoid distractions, such as from phones. Drowning can happen in an instant.
    • Don’t let children play around pool drains or suction fittings.
    • Learn CPR in case you need it.
    • Wear lifejackets if on a boat. 
    • Remember that swimming in a pool is different from swimming in a lake or in the ocean. There are currents and undertows.
    • Don’t drink alcohol while swimming.
    • Pool Safely is a national public education campaign. Take the Pool Safely Pledge and get a free downloadable safety kit.


Tips for Hiking Safety

Whether it’s a national park or a local trail, hiking is a popular way to connect with nature. Making the right preparations will help ensure that you can enjoy the scenery without worrying about injury.

    • Know exactly where you are going. Consult with experts who have been there on what you need.
    • Check the weather forecast and then recheck it. Bring any additional supplies you will need in case the weather turns.
    • Do not hike alone. Travel with someone else, and if you’re going to a remote area, try to travel with a small group 
    • Know the nearest ranger station and the number in case you need help.
    • Do not go into an area marked closed.
    • Leave a copy of your itinerary with a trusted friend or family member. Include details such as your destination, the timeframe of arrival and departure, phone numbers of people you are with, specific trails and campgrounds, and even the car you will be driving. This will help in case you are lost.
    • Pack the essentials. These include a first aid kit, compass, flashlight, matches, knife, food, water, toilet paper, duct tape, trash bag, whistle, bug spray, sunscreen, and a solar charging power source.
    • Stay hydrated and know the signs of heat exhaustion. Infants and young children, as well as people over age 65, are at the greatest risk.
    • If taking your dog on a hike, make sure he/she is protected against fleas and ticks. Bring water for your dog and take care that he/she does not get overheated.


Tips for Camping Safety

Being close to nature means that many of the hiking safety tips, above, will apply. In addition, you’ll want to take these added precautions.

    • Arrive early so you can make camp before dark. Give yourself two hours of daylight to set up camp. Learn your campsite in the daylight so you have an idea of where things are before dark. 
    • Don’t pitch your tent near the tallest trees in case of a lightning storm.
    • Build campfires in a safe area, away from trees, bushes, and other flammable objects.  Beware of post-fire embers. 
    • Do not leave food or garbage in the open.
    • Never approach or feed wildlife. 
    • Know that If animals feel cornered, they could bite, scratch or attack. Wild animals may transmit rabies.
    • Practice good hygiene. Wash hands before handling food.


Tips for Bicycle Safety

Biking is great exercise and another fun family activity. Hit the road safely with these tips.

    • Many states require bicycle helmets for children under 18. But helmets are good protection for everyone.
    • Dress in bright colors so you will be seen.
    • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and sunscreen to protect your body.
    • Never ride with headphones or earpieces. You want to be able to hear what’s going on around you.
    • Choose routes that have wide roads or bike lanes. Observe all traffic laws and be aware of drivers.
    • Bring a patch kit in case you need to repair a tire or tube.
    • Stay hydrated. Bring water with you. 
    • Carry some emergency cash in case you need it.

Whether you are traveling by car, plane, or RV always remember to travel safe and plan ahead of your adventure.



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

Protect Your Car From These Summer Driving Dangers

Protect Your Car From These Summer Driving Dangers

It’s hot… but you’re not the only thing feeling the heat. Rising temperatures are not only dangerous for us; they can also wreak havoc on our vehicles.

As the summer heat bears down in the midst of vacation and road trip season, here’s what you can do to help better protect your car on and off of the road.


How to Prevent…

Tire Damage

Your tires expand and contract in extreme temperatures. That’s why you find yourself losing more air in the winter and/or having overinflated tires in the summer. In general, you will lose or gain 1 PSI (pound per square inch) for every 10-degree temperature change. This means in the summer you could easily gain over 2 PSI. Not keeping your tires at the right pressure can reduce maneuverability and cause a blowout resulting in an accident.

To avoid tire damage in the summer, check them every few weeks to make sure you have the correct amount of pressure. Proper summer tire inflation will decrease your chances of having an accident, give you a smoother ride, and improve your gas mileage.

It’s better to be safe than sorry- if you are driving to a vacation destination, even if you just checked your tire pressure, be sure to have a spare on you just in case.


Engine Overheating

While an engine can overheat any time of the year, the summer heat will increase your chances. The high temperature itself, the heat coming off of the asphalt, and the ambient temperature surrounding the engine all play a factor in your engine becoming too hot. Of course, there are other factors that could also cause your engine to overheat including leaks, coolant problems, radiator issues, or even a damaged water pump.

So, how do you keep your engine from overheating? Routine maintenance is key for a healthy engine that can withstand the summer heat. Get regularly scheduled oil changes, frequently check your coolant levels, and replace old belts and hoses.

Unfortunately, sometimes overheating is unavoidable- especially if you have an older engine. And if an overheated engine is not handled properly, it can start a fire or ruin your vehicle. If your vehicle starts to overheat, turn off the A/C and crank up your heat. We know this sounds bizarre in the summer, but it will pull heat away from your engine and give you time to pull over to a safe location. Next, shut off your car for about 15 minutes. Keep an eye on your temperature gauge and make sure it starts to drop. If you haven’t already, this is where you will need to check and add your coolant, if needed. Finally, after giving it a few minutes rest, restart your engine and take it to your local mechanic.


Weakened Battery

Summer temps can also suck the life out of your battery. The heat leads to the evaporation of vital liquids resulting in a weakened charge. This can lead to corrosion which will damage the internal structure of your battery.

A heat-damaged battery won’t last long, especially once winter rolls around. To keep your battery in good working condition during the summer and prevent any weakening, park in the shade, keep your battery clean, limit short trips, avoid using electronics when the engine is off, and make sure your batteries’ heat barrier is still in place.

Watch for signs of your battery failing. If your battery light is on or your engine is slow to start it may be time for a replacement.


Fluid Leaks

The sun can evaporate important fluids in your vehicle, like coolant and brake fluid. Summer heat can also blow a head gasket or cause your gas to vaporize. When gas turns to vapor it increases the pressure in your gas tank and could potentially crack your hose systems. A cracked hose can lower your fuel efficiency, and if a hose were to break it could destroy your engine.

Keep your car in the shade, consistently check fuel levels, replace old hoses and belts, and continue with routine maintenance to decrease your odds of a leak. If you see a puddle, stain, or other types of liquid under your car after it has been sitting, it’s often a sign that you have a fluid leak and your car requires attention.


Other Interior & Exterior Damage

The heat won’t only affect your vehicle under the hood. It can cause fading, cracking, and other damage to your dashboard, seat, and exterior paint. And any one of these could be a costly repair.

Save yourself the money and stress and keep the sun from damaging your vehicle by keeping up with routine maintenance and cleaning, and also avoiding leaving your car in the sun whenever possible.

To protect your interior always

    • Park in the shade when you can or use a sun-shield to protect your dash
    • Cover your seats and steering wheel with covers to prevent fading and cracking
    • Use detailing products to eliminate dust particles that could cause scratches

For the exterior remember to

    • Keep your car in the garage or covered when you can
    • Wash and dry your car often to get rid of debris that could fade your paint
    • Wax your vehicle to give added protection against harmful rays

Stay safe in the heat and keep your vehicle safe too this season. Extend your vehicle’s life for the many summers ahead by following our tips and taking the proper precautions.

For more hot car, myths click here.



 This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

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