MPS iTech Weekly Newsletter

September 29, 2020 , Volume 1, Issue 2

Spotlight on Success

This week's Spotlight on Success highlights Bielefield Elementary School's own dynamic duo Marty Skelly and April Baehr. Last week, we asked for members of Middletown Public Schools to tell us about stand out teachers who demonstrate successful practices in their hybrid learning environment and how they creatively integrate technology into their classrooms. It took less than 30 minutes to get a glowing recommendation about this pair of fourth grade teachers.

We contacted Marty and April and asked them to reflect on the question below. After being humbly surprised by this much deserved recognition, this is how they responded (and demonstrated why the spotlight should shine brightly upon them!):

Do you have any words of wisdom or tips for your colleagues on how to be successful in this hybrid environment and/or integrating technology with your students?

Marty & April's Response:

We would start by saying one word: KISS, (Keep It Simple Silly) followed by the statement; “Don’t be afraid to take risks!” My partner (April) and I had been using a variety of technology for years. We had been using Google Classroom for many assignments and our students were somewhat comfortable with it. All that changed on March 13th and every day since has been a learning experience. Our successes have come through many mistakes, reflections, and adjustments.

We came up with a system that has worked well for the students as well as for us.This includes a Padlet we created with our Weekly schedule and linked it into Google Classroom as material. This is the only link students have to go to because we have linked all assignments, classrooms, and resources through the Padlet. Basically, we are using Google Classroom as a clearinghouse for assignments and keeping it simple for the students to find assignments with ease by not having to navigate around the Google Classroom unnecessarily. We have set controls to eliminate excessive alerts, notifications, and emails, etc that overload our inboxes and platforms that significantly reduce the amount of time spent going through the digital clutter. We have also eliminated the student chat and post features to prevent possible time consuming negative cyber situations while promoting digital citizenship through other more controlled means of student digital interactions on platforms like Zoom and Jamboard.

We have been using live Zoom meetings while keeping the meeting open and available for students to be in constant communication with us throughout the school day. To expand upon the theme of we are all one class no matter where we are sitting, and to promote educational equality, the daily Zoom meeting affords all students access to the classroom teacher and peers for synchronous and asynchronous learning every day. The access to breakrooms has been tremendously successful in increasing student engagement and accountability and providing frequent opportunities for discourse, student-led learning opportunities, small groups, conferencing, and socially and emotionally development. In addition, we use ClassDojo as a means of regular communication with families. This is especially helpful when students are having technical difficulties with accessing Zoom, providing parents with a direct line of communication to us to help troubleshoot issues so that valuable instruction time is not lost over simple fixes.

Although every day we face new challenges while embracing the dynamic change in our role as educators, we have found these strategies in this hybrid environment that enable us to successfully integrate technology with our students.

Do you have a colleague that should be recognized for their success integrating technology into instruction or implementing successful hybrid learning practices? Please let us know by emailing Michelle at

How are you using technology?

You may have heard of the SAMR for technology integration, but how does it relate to your teaching?

SAMR stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. Let's consider how each of these may be realized in your teaching:

  • Substitution - you use Google Docs on a Chromebook as a substitution for paper and pencil.
  • Augmentation - you create a Google Slides presentation with interactive multimedia, such as hyperlinked text, audio, and video.
  • Modification - students watch a video on digital citizenship, then create a Twitter account and tweet three examples of appropriate digital citizenship.
  • Redefinition - use Google Earth to explore a location found in their recent reading from their ELA class; create a virtual tour of the area as it relates to the story and publish on the web.

Remember, the goal is not to use technology for technology's sake, but as a tool to enhance instruction!

Big picture
Photo credit: @sylviaduckworth and @edappadvice

Tech Tip of the Week

You can create a link to share with students or meeting participants that causes them to create a copy of a desired Google Doc, Sheets, or Slides presentation. The video linked below outlines the steps that are listed here.

  1. When the document is open, select "Share".
  2. Select "Copy link" fro the "Get link" dialogue box.
  3. Click "Done".
  4. Paste the URL you just copied into the address bar at the top of the screen by right-clicking and selecting "paste", or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + V.
  5. Before hitting Enter, highlight the end of the URL from the word "edit..." all the way to the end. Replace this text with the word "copy" and press Enter.
  6. You should see the "Copy document" dialogue and the blue "make a copy" button. Highlight the URL at the top of the screen, right-click and select "copy", or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + C.

Now, you can paste this URL into a Gmail message to send to students or colleagues, or into a Google Doc or Slides presentation for participants to quickly make their own copy.

Tech Reminder - Hapara!

All MPS teachers have access to Hapara, which is and instructional management suite, which includes Workspace, Highlights and Dashboard, enables teachers to organize their students and their assignments, track their activity and progress and dynamically personalize instruction across different metrics.

To find out more and for your own professional learning, go to and login with your Google account. Select "Workspace", then "Professional Learning" from the left-sidebar menu. I have created a Workspace called "Learn to Use Hapara!" for your reference. There you will find tons of resources and references on how to use the various components of Hapara. As always, reach out to me at with questions!

Professional Development

This week, the MPS iTech Department facilitated and supported the following PD:

  • Waggle Training:(Snow, Farm Hill, Wesley, and Moody 3-5 teachers; Keigwin ELA/Math teachers): Participants will learn how to onboard students onto the Waggle Blended Learning Platform. (led by coaches from HMH)
  • Introduction to Hapara (Secondary ELA teachers): Participants will access and understand the benefits of using Hapara to create a more efficient student workflow. (led by Steve)
  • LINCspring (All MPS educators at designated times): Through professional development provided by LINCspring all teachers will explore Formative Assessments in a Hybrid Environment. (supported by MPS iTech Team)

Next week, the MPS iTech Team will be providing professional development on:

  • Station Rotation & Playlists in a Hybrid Environment (Keigwin & Wilson teachers, led by Michelle & Steve): In this PD, teachers will receive support and training in how to create playlists that support learning outcomes in a station rotation model. (led by Michelle Gohagon)

If your school or department has specific professional development needs or wish to discuss specific professional development needs please reach out to Michelle or Steve.

MPS Instructional Technology

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