Microsoft Tips and Tricks

Expand Classroom Possibilities with Microsoft

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Written by Miguel Guhlin

See how updates to your favorite Microsoft classroom tools, including Teams, OneNote, Class Notebook, and Immersive Reader, can expand learning.

Fundamental transformations to how we approach teaching and learning occur daily. In Office 365 classrooms, the teachers and students have ever increasing opportunities to learn and do more. Teaching and learning are often about inspiring learners. Another key aspect of inspiration is the juxtaposition of new tools that make the previously impossible or difficult less so. For example, consider that just a few months ago, it was unlikely you that students could hear their device read to them in their own language. New updates to Microsoft products now make that a reality.

Let’s take a quick look at updates to three powerful tools (Teams, OneNote, and Immersive Reader) that Microsoft has just announced and how they expand classroom possibilities.

Base: Total Respondents. Details: page 23 in the full report. State data here as cited by Scholastic
This research suggests an increasing need for tools like Microsoft Teams, OneNote and Immersive Reader
that seek to meet the needs of all students.

Expansion #1: Microsoft Teams Adds New Features

Given the wealth of learning management systems teachers have at their disposal, standards are high. Microsoft has listened to feedback from teachers to continue improving Microsoft Teams, which replaced Microsoft Classroom at the start of the 2016-2017 school year. As a result, helpful teacher tools (e.g. join codes) have found their way into MS Teams.  Here is a list of existing new features announced earlier:

  • List View of Assignments
    • Teachers can view assignments for an entire class.
    • Students can view assignments for all their classes.
  • Multiple class assignment distribution
    • Teachers in Teams are now able to create and assign a single assignment to multiple classes at once.
    • Once distributed, an assignment sent to multiple classes can be edited and/or deleted within an individual class.

There are even more Teams features!

Here are some of the added features just announced on January 22, 2018:

  • Join Codes for Class Enrollment

    • Students now have access to join codes. Teachers can invite students to a class and the latter can join using a code.
  • Mobile Assignment Viewing and Creation:
    • Students, via their mobile devices, can “now access upcoming assignments, receive new assignment notifications, and turn in their work.”
    • Teachers are able to “create new assignments, as well as review and make edits to existing assignments” via their mobile device.
    • Upgraded assignment search feature for both students and teachers is now available.
  • On Demand Translation
    • Students and teachers can turn content in a chat or in a team channel into the language that their Office 365 tenant (setup) is configured in. The power in this feature is that it allows “teachers and students to converse comfortably in their chosen language,” removing all language barriers.
  • Assignment Analytics
    • Real-time assignment tracking reveals who has viewed or turned in assignments.
  • Reusing a Team as a Template
    • Have a MS Team space setup the way you want it? Teachers can now use that Team space as a template.
    • Team creators can also decide what (e.g. channels, tabs, team setting, apps, and/or users) they would like to copy over.
  • Decimal Grading
    • Teachers can “provide grading feedback in their preferred way using Decimal Grading.”
  • Integration with Powerpoint and Microsoft Stream
    • Teachers can “use PowerPoint to build immersive class content (that includes ink, animations, and audio/video narrations), add Microsoft Forms–based quizzes,” then
    • Publish it to their Stream channel as a video. This makes their content available in their Teams class to distribute to their students.
    • Automatic captioning will also become available in MS Stream, increasing accessibility for all learners.

Microsoft continues to add more features. What feature am I looking for? How to mark assignments with letter grades.

Expansion #2: Microsoft OneNote

expandWhat tool has changed most radically from all others? The answer is, in a word,  OneNote. Curious about what you can do with Microsoft OneNote? Read TCEA’s TechNotes blog entries. In the meantime, be aware that Microsoft OneNote has had over 15 million notebooks created since the start of the 2017-2018 school year. Some welcome improvements include:

  • Page locking in OneNote Class Notebook. This oft-requested features empowers teachers to provide students with read-only access of pages.
  • Assignment integrations.
  • Grade integrations with a variety of Learning Management Systems (LMSs) and Student Information Systems (SISs).
  • Interactive math calculators, which includes Desmos interactive math calculators (fabulous tool!).
  • New stickers.
  • Immersive Reader for OneNote for iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Expect to see many more additions to MS Teams and OneNote with increased integration.

Expansion #3: Immersive Reader

If you haven’t seen Immersive Reader, you are missing out on a powerful tool for second (or third) language learners. Microsoft describes it in this way:

Immersive Reader, included in OneNote Learning Tools, is a full-screen reading experience to increase readability of content in OneNote documents. Learning Tools is designed to support students with dyslexia and dysgraphia in the classroom, but can support anyone who wants to make reading on their device easier. (Source)

Consider the impact of the following features on language learning in the classroom:

According to Microsoft, Immersive Reader supports an additional 10 new languages. It is also coming to even more platforms in 2018. Immersive Reader appears on Word for Mac, iPhone, Android platforms. The chart below provides some additional insights.

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About the author

Miguel Guhlin

Director of Professional Development at TCEA
A former director of technology, Miguel brings a unique perspective to TCEA’s professional development team. He specializes in Microsoft’s educational products and has extensive instructional technology experience. A prolific writer, Miguel blogs at Around the Corner and for TCEA’s TechNotes Blog. Miguel earned both his Master’s degree in Bicultural/Bilingual Studies with an ESL Concentration and his B.A. at University of Texas, San Antonio.

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