MPS iTech Weekly Newsletter

December 4, 2020, Volume 1, Issue 6

Spotlight on Success

This week's Spotlight on Success is brought to us by Middletown High School Math and Computer Science teacher, Steve Lecky! We asked Steve to share some of his engagement strategies for hybrid and fully remote instruction:

As this year of the hybrid and sometimes fully-online model has progressed, it has become clear that our success is largely dependent on engagement. I have appreciated our district leaders’ efforts in providing support and encouraging the sharing of ideas in this area. I will share two engagement strategies that have been effective for me.

After carefully planning an activity for my initial Zoom Breakout task of 2020, the experience was a disaster. On entering each room, it quickly became clear there was almost zero student-to-student discourse! Confident in my lesson design, I recognized the need to “jump-start” the student discussions.

Now, prior to assigning breakout rooms, I pose a “fun” question for the students to answer once they arrive in their rooms. And, I alert the students that when I first enter each room, I will randomly call on one of the members of the group to report out each student's answer. For example, the question might be “What is your favorite snack?”, or “What is your favorite game to play, whether sports or video or a board game?” In the creation of the fun question, I do view it through an equity lens, trying to be sure it is accessible and non-intimidating to all.

On each Zoom breakout experience since the first, when I enter a room, the selected student eagerly communicates each student’s answer to the question! Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of the breakout groups continue in dialog on the content-area task.

I do have one class for which student-to-student discourse presents a large challenge for a variety of reasons. To encourage engagement with me throughout the entire hybrid or fully-remote lesson, I am requiring frequent student feedback through the chat (and in-person). It can be quick as in “Give me a 5, 4, 3, 2 or 1 on your level of comfort with that last problem/discussion.” Or, I will pose a content-related question with an A, B or C response. Each time, I communicate that the response may be sent through either public or private chat for the online group. The expectation is for students to answer all questions, and I tie a participation score to this expectation.

I do hope one or both of these tips are helpful. I am heartened by our collective persistence to address this area of need!

Meet the team!

The Instructional Technology eam has been expanding! So you can put names and faces together, we've asked each coach to introduce themselves...
Michelle Gohagon - Director of Instructional Technology & Professional Development. She has been an educator for 19 years and has worked in Middletown Public Schools for 7 years. Michelle works collaboratively with curriculum supervisors, the coaches from the Instructional Technology Department, and the Technology Services Department on how to best leverage technology to support instruction and improve student outcomes, and provide meaningful professional development. Michelle can be reached at or by phone at 860-638-1460.
Steve Matthews - Instructional Technology Coach, K-12. Steve is currently in his 20th year in the district and 5th year in this position where he has been working with MPS staff to become more comfortable and proficient with the technology tools available in our district. Steve also provides individual, building, and district-level professional development on all things technology! Steve can be reached at and by phone at (860)638-1466.
Rebecca Deotte - Innovation Coach. She received her Masters in Library and Information Sciences with a concentration in School Libraries and MakerSpaces from Southern Connecticut State University. In addition to her work with the Office of Innovation and Grants, she supports teachers with incorporating project based learning, STEM/STEAM and MakerSpace into their practice. Rebecca can be reached via email, or phone, 860-876-3736.

Elisha Carta - Blended Learning Coach for grades K-6. She has been an educator for 22 years and has Kindergarten, 3rd grade, 5th grade and special education classroom experience. She holds a B.S in Elementary Education with a concentration in Spanish from CCSU, a M.A. in Special Education from New York University, and a 6th year certificate from the UCAPP program at UCONN. Her goal as the Blended Learning Coach is to collaborate with teachers to blend the use of instructional best practices with technology tools in order to provide all students with voice and choice in their learning. These partnerships will take many forms, including collaborative lesson planning, modelling lessons, co-teaching, researching new and innovative teaching techniques, and finding resources. Elisha can be reached via email,, or phone, 860-347-2561.

Scot Peaslee - Secondary Blended Learning Coach. He received his Bachelor's Degree in History and Political science from and his Master's in Education from the University of Connecticut and a Sixth Year in Educational Leadership from Sacred Heart University. As the Secondary Blended Learning Coach, Scot helps teachers advance instruction, maximize student engagement, and improve student outcomes through technology. He also provides professional learning and assists with any blended learning questions for grades 6-12. Scot can be reached at, or by phone, 860-638-1472.


Logging in to Zoom

Zoom can be accessed via the app on your PC or Chromebook, and also through Classlink or the MPS Zoom website. If you have never logged in to the website before, you will need to choose the "SSO" option. Then, if asked for your organization, enter "mpsct".

Some users have experienced trying to start a meeting they created by clicking on the link in their Calendar, only to be faced with a message stating, "Wait for the host to start this meeting". Signing in to Zoom will remedy this issue and you will be good to go!

Turn on your Google account sync!!

When you sign in to your Google account on a windows device, you will come across a dialogue asking you to "Link data". Do click this when you see it, then on the subsequent window, "Yes, I'm in" referring to the sync.

What this does it links your MPS Google account across all of the devices you are logged in to. If you create a bookmark on your desktop PC at school, you will see the same bookmark on your Surface Pro when logged in at home. You will also have access to your browser history which can facilitate accessing the various websites you use throughout the day!

Hapara Workspace Zoom Drop-in

This past Wednesday morning, Steve delivered PD on how to create your Workspace in Hapara. If you were not able to attend and would like to view the video of the session, you can find it here:

Video link

Access Passcode: 5Mj73Z@y

Professional Development

Beginning in December, members of the Office of Teaching and Learning and the Instructional Technology Department will be providing professional development for educators. The schedule will be emailed you directly, but December's learning cycle will focus on engagement in a hybrid environment for all groups. Topics in this cycle include:

  • Adaptive Challenge: How to engage the disengaged/absent learner?
  • PearDeck: Engaging the Reluctant Learner
  • Zoom: Strategies for Face-to-Face Learning
  • Seesaw: Engaging the Reluctant Learner

Additional drop in sessions include:
  • Revisiting Video Tools
  • Self Care

Please contact Michelle Gohagon should you have any additional questions.

MPS Instructional Technology

Please visit the MPS Instructional Technology website for additional training resources and ideas for implementation.