Ode to Bea Dupree – #ThankATeacher


Today’s #EdTechBoC challenge: Write about a teacher, past or present, who inspires you!

Everyone who knows me well enough knows that my favorite teacher of ALL time is Beatrice Dupree.  Seriously….ALL time favorite.   She was my English IV and AP English teacher.  That woman…..whoa.  She was everything to me.  She was brilliant, beautiful, stately, classy – all of it.  It was so obvious that she 100% loved what she did.  To get excited about Macbeth…I mean….seriously….who gets excited about McBeth?

I really could go on and on about her…but in fact, I already did!

Click here for my blog post about the qualities of a great teacher.

Until the next time,


Making The Move….Literally or How to Use the Domain Mapping Tool to Connect your Edublog to Your Custom Domain

When I first started this blog, I was teaching sixth grade.  When I made the transition to my new job, I didn’t want to lose the memories that this blog had, but I was no longer “surviving sixth grade”….I guess I’d “survived”…lol.

Two years ago when I first become introduced to Google Apps and we were trying to find away to get our 6th graders email accounts so they could share things that they’d created with us, I bought a domain from GoDaddy to apply for a school level GAFE.

I’ve been working off and on (waaay more off than on) to mask the “Surviving Sixth Grade” url with my “mrsjeff2u.com” domain.  I’m not much of a informational text reader, so I was just like….eh….I’ll figure it out.  I did…but I didn’t…ya feel me?

But after the initiation of @EdTechBoC I figured….I better figure this out! And I did. 🙂  So if you have a custom domain that you would like to use – but you don’t want start your blog all over again….here are the steps.

  1.  Log into your Edublogs account.
  2. In the Dashboard, click on Tools > Domain Mapping
  3. Enter your custom Domain and then click “add”.  Domain Add
  4. Log into your DNS control panel. (For me that meant that I went to www.godaddy.com, clicking on Domains > My Domain > DNS Zone File).  DNS Zone File
  5. Configure your DNS records using the DNS configuration information on your domain mapping page.  Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 9.55.38 PM
  6. Click the Edit icon in the @ row under A (Host)
  7. Change Points to the A record IP address shown on your domain mapping page (copy and pasting is fine) and then click FinishScreen Shot 2016-04-29 at 9.57.12 PM
  8. Scroll down to www. under CName (Alias) and click on the Edit icon.
  9. Change Points to  the CName record shown on your domain mapping page and then click Finish. Please note that GoDaddy doesn’t allow you to use the dot of the end of the CName, so don’t add it.  Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 9.57.37 PM
  10. Click “Save Changes”.
  11. Go to back to Tools > Domain Mapping inside your dashboard and click Activate.  It normally takes at LEAST an hour for it activate.

Getting The Message Right

Are You Listening-







A couple of weeks ago, I received a message from a friend. In the message was a picture of the Promethean ActivPanel with the statement, “If we want to transform our district, we should put one of these in every classroom.”

Here’s a summary of our conversation:

Me:  We’ve looked at it and may get a sample to play around with it, but going 1:1 kinda eliminates that need….

Them:  The whole “Digital Transformation” doesn’t work for me. It can be another way to isolate “our” students. By “our” I mean students who make up our demographic, i.e., students of poverty. They learn best when they make “REAL” connections. I’m not talking FB, Instagram, Kik, SnapChat or Twitter, but human connections. They need human connections to be successful.

Me:  The technology doesn’t eliminate the need for face to face connections. Anyone who is doing it that way is doing it wrong.  The technology makes it easier for teachers to immediately assess to determine individual needs. It frees up time that can then be made for individual and small group instruction.

Them:  In your room, sadly you are an exception to that rule! I go into classrooms everyday and watch as technology is used to keep students “busy” NOT “engaged” as teachers sit behind their 💻 and answer the staggering emails we get or shop online, I don’t know. I conference with students and monitor where they are online. Students have to be taught to use technology effectively, efficiently and most of all correctly. An “Acceptable Use” form at registration or when the device is issue won’t cut it, when Little Jaheem goes to White House.org and not WhiteHouse.gov and is looking at pornography. Where’s the teacher not monitoring, engaging or teaching small groups/individuals.

Me:  I agree that we have much work to do! And maybe that’s educating our administrators….because that’s who I blame if those things are happening in classrooms and are not being addressed. Students AND adults need to be taught how to use technology effectively. Our responsibility is to ensure that students receive the best education possible. And the obstacles to that happen on so many levels….district, community, school. I just feel it’s important to stay focused on those that need my support the most, the kids. I understand and empathize with your frustration. I’m just making the choice to use the tools that I have access to to make that possible.  I frequently think about this.

  1. Before the tech, teachers used “worksheets” to keep students busy.
  2. Before the tech, teachers sat on their butts.
  3. Before the tech, students cheated, brought nudie magazines to school, etc. The tech isn’t the problem.

The conversation disconcerted me.  I went back to my director and asked, “Is it me? Am I sending the wrong message?  What am I NOT saying that would cause people to misunderstand what I’m trying to say?”

A week or so later, I had a conversation with someone who had visited the “Flipped Classroom To See” as she was told.  She was sorely disappointed.  She said, “I don’t get it…”  What she saw was students watching videos.  No small group….no partner work…..no individual conversations with the teacher…no student creation.  In trying to get our teachers to be comfortable with this change, I am sorely afraid that I have not been clear in MY MESSAGE!

So let me say this for the record…..”IT’S NOT ABOUT THE TECH!  IT’S NOT ABOUT THE APP!  IT’S NOT ABOUT THE VIDEO!  It’s about the way these tools allow you to have more time in your classroom for human interactions between the teacher and his/her students.  It’s about how we can immediately see where students are struggling so that we can immediately provide assistance and redirection.  It’s about how we can differentiate our instruction so that we can accommodate the needs of all students.  It’s about the way we can encourage our students to be creators of content and not consumers.  It’s about creating critical thinkers who are productive citizens in their society.  It’s about preparing them to be….better, stronger, smarter, more innovative.  It’s about preparing them to be…..more.”

Until the next time,


Looking Within to Move Forward


The other day I was a part of a extremely uncomfortable yet extremely rewarding conversation.  I’ll admit that I can occasionally become defensive – doubly so with people that I am protective of.  People who have put their trust in me – who have supported me in my hopes…my vision.

In our conversation, we were analyzing the effectiveness of a particular group, and people got REALLY defensive. Throughout our conversation I began thinking to myself, “How many times do we not address problems because of our refusal to be reflective? And because of our refusal to reflect, we stay stuck in the same rut….unable to move forward?”

Unfortunately, I think the answer is “too many times…”, which is really sad.  In this world, you can not afford to be stagnate.  Things are changing at a rapid pace, so we must do the same.  And in these ever changing times, things are going to get uncomfortable, how can they not?  ‘Growing pains’ as my grandma used to say.

But if we’re in it for the right reasons: to improve the lives of our children and develop students that are life long learners and productive adults in their society – then we have no other choice.

We have to look beyond our feelings of defensiveness, fear of inadequacies, and sometimes just plain stubbornness and/or laziness so that we can move forward to providing better learning environments for our kids!  I see no other option.


Until the next time,

The Importance of Providing Unique Experience for Students


Google Expeditions stopped by here! *drops mic*

When I found out about the Google Expeditions Pioneer Program, I was extremely skeptical that out students would get the opportunity in little old Darlington, SC.  So I was beyond ECSTATIC when the emails started rolling in.  After looking at our options, we were able to provide this experience to students in six schools.

And what an experience it was!  Can I just say, “My tail is TIRED!” 🙂 But despite that, I would do it all over again.

Before we got started with a session, I’d say to the kids, “You know…..we may go to Egypt today…..we may visit the moon…..we might even swim with the sharks…all without leaving your seat.  The looks on their faces….the excitement….the wonder….

The “Oooohhhhh” that I heard a million times each day, brought pure joy to my heart.  The students were engaged, they were excited, they whined when their time was up.  And each and every time, I heard it, I thought to myself, “This is what I live for.  This is why it’s important to provide unique experiences for our students.”  But the teachers were rejuvenated as well.  I could see the wheels turning in their heads….how amazing would this experience be if we could use this with our lessons? We study biomes in Science, but then to actually experience it…..the VR experience is so much MORE than just looking at pictures in a book.

We sometimes take for granted what our students have access to – or what they’ll even eventually experience.  So many of the students in my school district have never even been to the beach – and it’s only 90 miles away.

Something that resonated with me from our district Design Team’s visit to Albermarle County. “All Means All”  It is important to provide these experiences for ALL of our children.  Not just the affluent ones….not just the gifted ones…ALL OF THEM.

I definitely commend the principals whose schools were involved.  We are in the middle of MAP season (standardized computer test) and it would have been easy for them to say, “We just can’t fit it into our schedule.”  But each of them worked with me to make sure that we could provide this opportunity with very little turn around time. Each time we needed to make an adjustment, they said, “We’ll make it work.” And they did.

It is imperative that we redesign school for 21st Century learning.  No more of this “sit and git”….and yes I mean “git”….I’m a Southern girl after all.  Sometimes we WILL have to inconvenience ourselves for the greater good.  And in every situation, every opportunity, every day….ALL MEANS ALL.

Until the next time,


Digital Learning Day 2016

I distinctly remember being disappointed last year for Digital Learning Day because I was in a professional development session and wouldn’t be able to actively participate.

This year, I knew I not only wanted to participate, but I wanted it our district to participate en masse.  Thanks to my dear colleague and friend Sarah (@sarahdateechur), the DCSD Digital Learning Challenge was born!

Sarah’s school district created a site with a list of options for teachers and I “borrowed” that idea as well!

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I was excited see that we had extremely active participation!  Hopefully, we will get even more next time.  To celebrate the work that our teachers and students did, I created this Smore.  Enjoy!

Until the next time,

Planning – It’s in the Eye of the Beholder

I’m what you would call spontaneous.  I’m sure my ADHD has something to do with that.  I do my best thinking in the shower.  Because of this, my plans change constantly.  I make someone with OCD pull their hair out.  Luckily, I work with amazing people who accept me as I am – and kids who love to go with the flow!

When I first started teaching, I feverishly worked on lesson plans (because that’s what we’re taught to do, right?) but after I got my final evaluation as a new teacher – the lesson plans pretty much stopped.  When I started at my new school 5 years ago, I looked a my principal and said, “You know I haven’t done lesson plans since probably around 1999, right?”  He thought I was joking – I wasn’t.  Those first few years were rough.  I would get glowing observations from admin, but would constantly see the words, “It’s obvious you’ve planned your lesson, but where are your lesson plans?”

It’s not that I don’t always have a plan in place – but my plans are fluid.  If something doesn’t work right for my first class – there’s no way in the world I’m killing that dead horse three more times.  So I struggled…..with highlighting what I was doing in my classroom on this 2D sheet of paper.  I actually still do.

Flipping my classroom has helped with that; but I’ve still struggled.  When I started flipping my classroom, we were towards the end of the school year.  My kiddos were able to work well in unsupervised small groups, because they already knew how mean and crazy I was.  The DID NOT want the face “the wrath”.

How that looks at the beginning of the school year is completely different.  They don’t know me yet.  I don’t know them yet.  So I had to change the way I wanted my classroom to look.  With new standards and a new textbook that we were expected to use and I’ve had to change they way my classroom looks many, many times.

Some things remain consistent.  Making sure students have time to read independently, write through blogging, and practice skills that I know they’ll be assessed on.  For me, it’s also imperative that they have time to think critically and create based on their learning.  And I also need that time that I can work with small groups or students on an individual basis – this has helped me add another dimension to my relationship building.

The best thing that I could have done it put everything on the board for the kids.  Objective….check!  Step by step instructions…check!  No more do they ask me, “What’re we supposed to be doing?”  They look at the board and keep it moving – and that frees me up to work with kids without interruption AND helps me not to flip out on them.

These last few months have been difficult for me.  For the first time…..EVER!…..we’ve covered all the standards….super EARLY.  So I’ve had all this extra time that I want to make sure is used effectively.  It’s still trial and error but isn’t everything.  In this world, by the time you get the hang of something – it all changes again.

So if you ask me is planning necessary, you’ll hear a resounding “Yes!”  But what that looks like to me may not be what you think.  What I’ve come to realize is that what the kids have to follow is much more important than anything any adult that comes into my classroom has to follow.  And if they have a questions….hey…..ask a kid.

Until the next time,




Making The Learning Stick – With Adults!

I have sat in so many horrible…horrible….did I mention horrible?? presentations!  Some forced upon me – some straight up voluntary!  Part of my issue is that I am ADHD….like really bad.  So, after a few minutes if you haven’t caught my attention – I’m gone onto the next thing.


Ever been there?


I’ve always been a tech geek, I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about the Tandy computer my dad bought for our family back in the 80’s…..and I’ve always been willing to share what I know with other teacher to help.  I’d presented at my school and for my previous school district many times but I had never considered expanding out.

As I became more involved with technology integration, I took it upon myself to attend different conferences and I began to think…”Hey!  I can do this!”  I mean, I have some amazing kids and we do some amazing things…why not share those things?  And so I did. I saw where a school district was hosting an summer tech conference and I submitted my proposal.  After that I was hooked!

I’d like to think that I am able to share what I know in a way that excites and motivates someone else.

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As I’ve evolved as a presenter, my expectations have evolved.  I really don’t expect to get “wow’ed” every time.  If I can take one piece back to use with my kids (or even in my own presentation), that makes me happy.  The part that I enjoy the most now are the connections I’m able to make through these opportunities.

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So many times I’m able to put a face to a Twitter handle (right, @bgoza?) or add to my already amazing PLN.  Sometimes I’m able to have conversations with or spend a few moments with some of my tech heroes and sheroes.  And every single time I’m able to find at least one little thing that I can share with my kids!

Until the next time,



In Over Our Heads….

Question:  How do I balance covering content with student’s stress levels/mental health?

Everything is written in pencil….that’s what we sixth grade teachers say….

One of the things that I struggle with is the stress level of my students. I mean…they’re kids….SCHOOL is their JOBS. All that extra (football, basketball, etc) stuff is just that….extra.

But, as an ELA teacher, I do realize that sometimes the text they’re designed to read is too difficult so I do make accommodations for that.

I make “visual videos” where I record the audio with the text so they can listen to the story as they read it.

I give them multiple opportunities to complete assignments. But, if I don’t MAKE them stay – they don’t.

We have morning “Breakfast Club” and afterschool. We have Homework Detention and we’re allowed to pull students during their elective times to make up assignments or get additional assistance.

One of the greatest benefits of the Flipped Classroom is that I do have more time to work with students in small group or on an individual basis if they don’t get it.

But for many 6th graders, “I don’t get it” really means, “I don’t want to do this”…..it’s a coping mechanism in my opinion. One that we have to break in 6th grade or else everyone is MISERABLE.

I will continue to make accommodations, but I won’t enable -nor will I lower my expectations. I think that’s my responsibility as an educator….to create responsible citizens. So I won’t stop – I can’t afford to. The lives I shape and mold are too important.

Until the next time,

Fitting It All In


Being an ELA teacher is tough. I mean, who else has to teacher 3 subjects in one? Reading, Writing, and Vocabulary….each with their own set of standards!

I have to admit, since I flipped my classroom, I no longer have quite the stress that I’ve had in the past.

Let’s do the math…..60 minute periods…..25-30 students…..3 subjects…..6th graders! Before flipping, sometime it would take me a week to get through a lesson! Now that I’m flipping, that same lesson is done in one day. Students alternate between reading and writing instruction through videos which allows me time to work with students in small groups and/or on an individualized basis. I also have more time for students to create based on their learning…..Ah-Mazing!

To be honest, I have at least touched on every standard and most of them I’ve been able to go over in depth, assess, and reteach. And I almost don’t know what to do because this has NEVER happened to me before….NEVER.

And I have to tell you that it’s the BEST FEELING IN THE WORLD!!!

Until the next time,