BLENDing with Staff & Community

Today’s Contributor: Tracy Machu

I am in my 13th year as a Special Education Resource/Inclusion teacher at St. Elmo Elementary and my 3rd year as CIC.

The 2018-2019 school year has brought change to my campus in the form of a new principal and a renewed focus on BLEND. Over the past few weeks, we have been working to develop a plan of expectations for teachers and to build our new Campus Community BLEND course.

Last year, I started a BLEND Staff course to share a campus calendar and post professional tech tips for my campus. A couple of the teachers used it, but most did not. This year, our new principal has made it his goal to post a weekly bulletin in BLEND. I imported all the grade level YPGs from the Commons and added links to those as well. Our secretaries have also been given the role of “teacher” in the Staff course to help maintain the campus calendar. I’m hopeful that this will encourage teachers to slowly get into BLEND a little more.

We also wanted to try out the new Campus Community BLEND course. In the beginning, I struggled with how to achieve this. We wanted each grade level team to have a page in the course, but most of our teachers still are developing an understanding of BLEND, so I was reluctant to give everyone “teacher” roles in the course. After discussing my concerns with my TDC, I met with each grade level team individually throughout staff development week and the first week of school to discuss responsibilities and options. I created a template page for teachers to build off of. Most of the teams opted to create their pages in their BLEND Sandbox using my template. Then, they added me as a “teacher” in their sandbox. From that point, I could import their page into the Campus Community Course and edit the style as needed to maintain a uniform look within the course. One grade level did request to have their team leader added as a “teacher” in the Community Course. They wanted the option to update their page monthly. We also gave our secretaries “teacher” roles in the course so that they could send out announcements and add events to the calendar as needed.

We are making progress, and I continue to meet with grade level teams as needed to build and update pages. I also still need to find a way to publicize the community page to parents who haven’t used BLEND before and share the value of this resource, but I’m hopeful that slowly but surely everyone will come to embrace these new changes.



  1. Thank you so much for sharing how you use BLEND with your entire faculty. I would like to share this post with my Admin so we can put everything all in one place. How has your faculty responded? Have the continued to use it as the year has progressed?

    1. I’ve had mixed responses from the faculty, but they are continuing to use it. My principal has continued to post the staff Weekly Bulletin only in BLEND, and both our staff calendar and ARD calendars are maintained this way, which has made it especially easy for SpEd and other intervention teachers to plan around assemblies and field trips. We also have a Campus SpEd BLEND course where we have tips on accommodations and sample PDFs of supplemental aids for teachers to print out for students, which teachers seem to appreciate.

  2. Is there any way you can post this in commons and share it with us? 😬 I am working on getting my campus community page going and praying it looks 1/2 as good as yours. Kudos and thank you for the inspiration.

    1. Thanks Carlos! 🙂 I have a template of the grade level team pages that I asked my teachers to use to build their courses up in the commons, but I don’t think I put the whole course in there. I’ll try to add it after school today.

  3. This is AMAZING! I love your community post – and it has inspired me to begin to create one for my campus! I do think how hard it is for the teachers on my campus to make the adjustment to BLEND and online actions versus paper – it will definitely be a slow crawl versus a run.

    I hope to initiate this on my campus!

  4. Wow! This is great Tracy. I love how you and your Principal have pioneered using BLEND and now the campus community course with your teachers, giving them templates and much modeling support as they dive in and get past their own learning curve. The campus community course will be a powerful communication tool for your parents as well. Remember that parents also have the Parent BLEND tour that might help them get signed in and using BLEND as well. I’m impressed!!

  5. Thank you so much for working with your staff to get your community course up and running. I know you have worked very hard to get all of your staff represented. You already know that these things takes time, but you provided the persistence and I am incredibly proud to work with you at St. Elmo. You have always gone the distance for your students and that is something to be very happy about. AISD is very lucky to have you among their staff.

  6. Wow! I really enjoyed reading how you were able to meet your staff where they are at and get them started on using a new tool.
    You are using some wonderful strategies to get your staff more proficient and comfortable in using BLEND. By meeting with each grade level team individually you were able to create differentiated goals and expectations so they could all be successful. I also love how you scaffolded learning by creating templates as an option for teachers to use. You are making it easier for your staff to tackle BLEND’s learning curve! Way to go!

  7. You’ve shared some excellent examples of how BLEND can enhance professional learning at the campus level as well as communications with your school’s community. Congrats on the success of your efforts to streamline the access points to information through BLEND!

  8. Tracy, I love the way you have supported your campus in developing and using a staff and community course. I am thrilled that you included accessibility as a component in your staff course. As a former special education teacher and accessibility proponent, I can’t tell you how great it is to share that information.

    The work your staff is doing with the campus community course is so inspiring. You have provided a way for staff to collaborate on this course in a meaningful and comfortable way. I am so impressed with the way elementary staff is using BLEND across the district. I have seen so many innovative uses of BLEND that are scaffolded and developmentally appropriate. Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful example that I can share with campuses I support.

    1. Thanks Rita! I also have a campus SpEd course I’ve created in BLEND to share resources for staff and PDFs of our supplemental aids that teachers can print for students who tend to lose them.

  9. Thanks, Tracy! I loved hearing how you are making both the staff course and the community course work for you and your community. It reinforces for me to the idea that you get to design in a way that meets your needs and honors that we are all in different places in our blended learning journey. Thanks for sharing your learning. Way to go!

  10. Awesome blog post, Tracy! Thank you for sharing your experience, and super kid-friendly design! I can’t wait to hear about how the parents at your campus engage with you all over time as a result of your efforts. In awe of specific work you put into communicating with your community.

  11. Nice work! Your templates are beautiful. It’s obvious that you’ve put a lot of time and creative energy into this endeavor. 🙂

    Reading your post, though, I can’t help but think, yet again, how BLEND isn’t really very intuitive or user-friendly for our elementary school teachers and students. Our PE teacher uses it, and one of our 4th and 6th grade teachers and I’ve used it, but it hasn’t exactly taken off here. It feels like we have to force people to use it beyond HCP, but that they’re much happier and having an easier time using SeeSaw or Google Classroom.

    It sounds like you’re making some headway with your campus, though! Kudos to you for your persistence and positive leadership!

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