Author Archives: Courtney Farrow

How To Get Parents Engaged in Homework with Microsoft Teams

We partnered with Haldor to deliver a free session for schools and multi academy trusts focusing on boosting parental engagement in students’ homework using Microsoft Teams.  

While there are some great advantages to parents and guardians being engaged in their child’s learning and homework assignments, it can be a challenge for schools and trusts to find an easy way to connect and communicate with parents. 

During the webinar, we shared our top tips on getting parents more engaged with homework by using the out-of-the-box tools in Microsoft 365 and how to enhance this with Haldor’s dedicated homework app.  



Below is a summary of what we talked about. 

Set up a weekly email digest for parents. 

An automatic weekly assignment digest can be set up within the standard Microsoft 365 package.  

Parents receive a summary of their child’s assignments once a week, and this provides a quick overview of set assignments, completed work, overdue homework and upcoming deadlines.

To use the weekly email digest, your school needs to be using Microsoft School Data Sync. Cloud Design Box are Microsoft SDS Advanced Partners, contact us for an SDS managed service.

An example of a weekly assignment digest email

“There are a few limitations to this,” Darren Hemming Cloud Design Box’s Operations manager, a parent and former teacher explains.  

“It’s only sent once per week, and we know some parents want to see this more often. The email digest is also limited in terms of the information provided – there are no grades or scores.”  

Additionally, it’s a static email and parents do not have the ability to log into Teams whenever they’d like to check up on their child’s homework progress.  

Enhancing parental engagement with Haldor Homework.  

Haldor Homework bridges the gap and allows parents and guardians to log in on-demand and find out what has been set in Teams and the current status of assignments.  

Haldor gives a more in-depth view of assignments, showing homework details, rubrics and grades.  

“It’s really useful for parents and guardians to be able to read the rubrics and grading criteria. It really involves the parents in their child’s learning,” says Darren. 

Haldor Homework App

What’s more, there’s no additional work for schools and admin teams as it links directly with Microsoft School Data Sync – there’s no need to create parents’ accounts or reset passwords.  

Parents simply sign up themselves and gain access to their child’s homework information. If they have multiple children at the school, they can flick between profiles in a few taps. 

Haldor Homework Assessment Criteria

On top of this, Haldor Homework is integrated with Microsoft’s accessibility tools, making the app inclusive and accessible for a broad spectrum of needs.  

Microsoft’s Immersive Reader enables the user to change the style and appearance of the text to help with reading comprehension.  

Parents can also use the Read Aloud tool to get the information read to them via their speakers or headphones.

Meanwhile, the Translate tool and Picture Dictionary are particularly helpful for breaking down language barriers.   

Haldor Homework Immersive Reader

“During the pandemic, we saw many parents teaching their children from home and becoming very engaged in their child’s learning. Now the schools in the UK have gone back to the classroom; it’s exciting to see a tool like Haldor Homework continuing the blended learning spirit,” Tony Phillips, Founder of Cloud Design Box adds. 

Please note: to set up the weekly assignment email for parents and use the Haldor Homework app, your school or trust will need to use Microsoft School Data Sync, the industry-standard way to automate your Class Teams and pull through parent/guardian contact details. If you need support with this, please get in touch with a member of our team.  

Add students’ upcoming assignments to your school’s SharePoint home page

We have launched a new SharePoint web part exclusive for Cloud Design Box customers called My Assignments, allowing students to see all their current and upcoming assignments from their SharePoint homepage.  

Your school’s SharePoint homepage should give students a quick overview of what’s going on in the school community, and their classroom.  

Popular features of a school intranet include the latest news, an announcement from the headteacher and maybe even a word of the day/week to get students thinking.

But, a common question we get asked by our customers is Is there a way to show upcoming assignments on the homepage? and thats why we created this new web part.  

Schools can now add My Assignments to their SharePoint’  pages 

SharePoint home page with My Assignments web part showing students upcoming assignments.

The student can see what assignments are coming up, what class theyre for and when theyre due. The ones that are overdue are highlighted in red.  

Whats more, the student can click the assignment and be taken directly to that assignment page in Microsoft Teams.  

My Assignments SharePoint web part showing students upcoming assignments.

The My Assignments web part has been designed to make it easier for students to keep track of assignments and take more ownership of their learning.    

If you’re a Cloud Design Box customer, you can edit your SharePoint home page and add the My Assignments web part to the page. Please get in touch with support if you need assistance with this.  

If youre not a customer but want to find out how we can help your school or trust achieve more with Microsoft 365, get in touch with a member of our team right now 

A strategy to adopt Microsoft Teams successfully in a school or MAT – Free webinar

We are hosting a free webinar for schools, academies and trusts focusing on how you can successfully adopt and roll out Microsoft Teams, without wasting time or money.  

One of the main challenges we see schools and MATs face when rolling out new technology is user adoption.  

There’s a central group of tech-savvy staff who pick up the new software straight away and begin using it in their classrooms, but there’s always a section that gets left behind without proper support or training.  

This results in a disjointed situation where learning resources are scattered across different platforms and servers and there is no cohesion in how students are being taught across their subjects.  

The COVID-19 pandemic forced a lot of schools to move to Microsoft Teams or other digital platforms to provide blended learning to students whether they were working in the classroom or at home. This has only added to the number of schools that now lack a long-term strategy to get real tangible benefits that reach far beyond the pandemic.  

Event link: A strategy to adopt Microsoft Teams successfully in a school or MAT. Sign up for free.

In an upcoming free webinar, we give you a tried-and-tested strategy to adopt Microsoft Teams successfully in your school or MAT. 

During the session, we’ll run through the key steps we take with schools across the UK to help them roll out Teams successfully; everything from communicating your initial vision and setting milestones to delivering training and measuring user adoption.  

I don’t want to exaggerate, but I think this is a revolutionary moment for us. Cloud Design Box is exceptionally good at working with a range of people. They can speak to the technical roles within the school, but what makes them stand out is their ability to explain it to teachers, like myself, who aren’t that technical.” – Chris Panting, Headteacher at The Ashcombe School. 

The webinar takes place on Microsoft Teams from 2pm – 3pm BST on 21 October 2021. 

Everyone is welcome to join in, whether you’re already using Microsoft Teams or considering rolling it out across your school or trust in the future.  

Sign up to A strategy to adopt Microsoft Teams successfully in a school or MAT right now.

Extend Microsoft Teams in independent schools with Cloud Box – demonstration

We are hosting a free webinar for independent schools, focusing on how you can successfully extend blended learning in Microsoft Teams with our Cloud Box solution, without compromising your high standard of teaching and learning.  

One of the main challenges we see independent schools face when rolling out new technology is achieving seamless user adoption.  

Typically, there is a central group of staff who are confident with technology that embraces the new software straight away. However, there’s always a percentage that gets left behind due to a lack of proper support, training and guidance.  

Students are left with learning resources interspersed across several different platforms and mediums and little-to-know cohesion in how they’re accessing learning across different subjects.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this problem, especially after the UK government announced that all schools needed to provide digital learning resources to students. This led to schools signing up to platforms like Microsoft 365 with no real long-term plan or strategy.

In an upcoming free webinar, designed especially for independent schools, we give you a strategy for adopting and extending Microsoft Teams successfully.  

During the session, we’ll run through the key steps we take with independent schools across the UK to help them roll out Teams seamlessly; everything from communicating your initial vision and setting milestones to delivering training and measuring user adoption. 

“By working with Cloud Design Box, we were able to make a smooth transition to the platform, as well as make navigation and provision of Teams and SharePoint sites easier for teachers to get on board with.” – The King’s School, Canterbury. 

Our webinar takes place on Microsoft Teams from 1pm – 2pm GMT on 26 November 2021. 

Everyone who works in an independent school is welcome to join, whether you’re already using Microsoft Teams or considering adopting it in the future.  

Sign up to Extend Microsoft Teams in independent schools with Cloud Box right now.

Getting parents engaged in homework using Teams – Free Webinar

Finding the best way to engage and involve parents in their children’s learning can be a challenge for schools. That’s why Cloud Design Box has partnered with Haldor to deliver a homework app that is seamlessly connected to Microsoft Teams Assignments.  

We all know that there are real advantages to parents and guardians being engaged in their child’s learning, especially when it comes to supporting students with homework and assignments.  

In an upcoming webinar on 19 October 2021, we’ll be sharing our top tips on getting parents more engaged with homework by using the tools within Microsoft 365

Sign up for the free webinar on getting parents engaged in homework with Haldor Homework

We’ll also be introducing our new partners – Haldor – and their product Haldor Homework, which gives parents access to their child’s Microsoft Teams Assignments, directly from their computer, tablet or phone.  

Parents can easily keep track of when homework is set and due, see the status of the homework and view any feedback or assessment – everything they need to support blended learning.



The webinar will take place on Microsoft Teams from 11am – 12pm BST on 19 October 2021.  

Everyone is invited to join in, whether you’re a current Cloud Design Box customer or if you’re a school, academy or trust that is interested in achieving more with Microsoft Teams.  

To attend the free webinar on 19 October 2021 please register here 

Using the Reading Progress tool in Microsoft Teams for Language Learning

The new Reading Progress function in Microsoft Teams Assignments works perfectly for language learning. In this step-by-step guide, we show you how you can use the Reading Progress tool to enhance language assignments and grading.  

Teams Assignments currently supports 37 different languages, so there’s plenty of choice for language teachers and their students. The tool allows students to be able to read a passage in a foreign language in an environment that is comfortable and familiar.  

Meanwhile, the teachers can easily pick up on mispronunciations, omissions and repetitions while tracking students’ progress in language learning. The time saved can be dedicated to coaching less confident speakers

In the video, Keith walks you through how to set up, complete and grade a language reading assignment in Microsoft Teams.  



We demonstrate how to set up a Reading Progress Assignment in Class Teams here

Below, we talk about how you can use it for language learning.

Setting up a Reading Progress Assignment for language learning.

  1. Go to your Class Team and head to the Assignments tab.
  2. Select Create to open a drop-down menu. Select Assignment to create a new assignment.
  3. In New Assignment, fill out the details of your assignment, such as the title and instructions. 
  4. Below the instructions section, select Add Resources. 
  5. Select Reading Progress to start setting up the assignment.  

Creating a reading progress assignment in Microsoft Teams

6. First, upload your reading passage. As you can see from the demo, we have our text in both English and German – you can edit your text if you need to and even preview it to see what it’ll look like for the student.  

7. Once you have uploaded your passage, you can change several settings, including reading level, genre, the number of attempts your students will have to complete the task and pronunciation sensitivity. 

Setting up a reading assignment in Microsoft Teams

Pronunciation sensitivity can be set to Less sensitiveStandard (default) or More sensitive, depending on your preferences. This can also be changed after the assignment is completed and you’re reviewing the assignment (see below).  

Changing the Pronunciation sensitivity in Reading Progress in Microsoft Teams

Teachers can toggle on and off Video Required to determine whether students need to record a video of themselves reading or simply submit audio. 

This is great for language learning as the teacher can see how confident the student is reading the passage.  

8. When you’re happy with the settings, select Attach to add Reading Progress to the Assignment.  

As with all Assignments, you can add further details before assigning them to students. For example, rubrics and points.  

9. Select Assign to assign to an entire class, group or individual students. 

Assigning a reading progress assignment to a student in Microsoft Teams

How a student can complete a language Reading Progress Assignment.  

Students can see the reading assignment in their Class Teams area.  

  1. Select View Assignment to open the task. There is an icon next to the reading passage they need to record.  

Opening a reading assignment in Class Teams

Note: The first time students use this, they must allow Microsoft to access their microphone, speakers and camera. A dialogue box will appear.  

2. Hit Start when ready to read. 

Completing a reading progress assignment in Microsoft Teams

Note: Students can use Immersive Reader at this stage to change the way the text looks and assist their reading.  

Using immersive reader with reading progress in Microsoft Teams

3. Once the student has recorded their passage, they also have the option to Start Over, or select I’m finished when they’re done.  

When finished, they can return to the original assignment and select the Hand in button to hand it over to you. 

Handing in a reading progress assignment in Microsoft Teams

How to grade a language Reading Progress Assignment.                                                   

  1. Head over to your Assignments tab and select the student you wish to review.  

This will take you to the Reading Progress dashboard – the passage is marked up, with words per minute and an accuracy level. We can also see the recording of the passage.  

Microsoft’s autodetect highlights and colour codes mispronunciations, repetitions, omissions, self-corrections and insertions. 

Grading a reading progress assignment in Microsoft Teams

2. On the left-hand side, you can toggle on/off autodetect depending on your preferences.  

Below this, a slider for Pronunciation sensitivity can be adjusted.  

Teachers can watch/listen to the recording and manually mark up the passage, as well as jumping to specific words of the passage by selecting Jump to word. 

Feedback can be given in the box on the right-hand side of the dashboard.  

3. Select Return to give the feedback to the student. 

You can navigate to the next assignment from the dropdown menu.

If you would like to learn more about how we can help your school or trust achieve more with Microsoft 365, please contact a member of our team today.

 

How To Return Assignments To Students For Additional Changes and Revisions

Microsoft Teams has a new feature, allowing teachers to return assignments to students for additional revisions and changes. This feature is highly anticipated by teachers and solves a key problem that many schools have highlighted to us.

The problem:

Previously, students could go into their assignments and submit work, even when the work is missing or not completed the assignment to the correct level.

The assignment would appear to be “completed” to both parents and teachers until the teacher opened up the document for marking and realised the student hadn’t completed the work.

This presented multiple problems for schools – parents weren’t receiving accurate information in their weekly digests and teachers couldn’t undo the action so it skewed the data in the mark books.

A solution:

Microsoft has now introduced a feature that enables the teacher to reassign the work back to the student.

Here is a walkthrough of how you can reassign work back to your students for revision.





As you can see this student has not completed the assigned work, despite handing it in via Teams.

Microsoft Teams assignments saying No work attached.

Add a comment in the comment section. For example, “You have not submitted any work here and this is not acceptable, please attach your work. If you have any issues with completing the task, please speak to me.”

Comments box and marking area for teachers for assignments in Microsoft Teams

Instead of selecting Return, select the arrow and then click Return for revision to return the work to the student for revision.

A dropdown menu - one option is return, the other is return for revision

Here is what this looks like for the student. The assignment appears back into the Assignments tab and is marked Needs revision.

The student can click through, read your comments and attach their work for hand in.

A student's screen stating that their assignment needs more work

A student's screen with the details and feedback from a teacher

Once the student has handed their work back in, you are able to see that they have as the assignment is marked Turned in again in the Assignments tab.

The teacher's assignments tab in Microsoft Teams

Parents can see this activity with the Parent and Guardian Weekly Digest email sent weekly through Microsoft School Data Sync.

The Teams weekly digest for parents

If you would like to learn more about how we can help your school or trust, please contact a member of our team today.

 

 

 

 

New Microsoft Teams Update Brings More Benefits to Blended Learning Classrooms

A new Microsoft Teams update for summer 2021 brings a whole bunch of benefits for both students and teachers, helping schools deliver blended and hybrid learning efficiently and in an engaging way.  

We’ve rounded up our top features that you need to try out in your lessons.  

Here’s a quick summary of the update: 

  • Set group assignments. 
  • Return assignments to students for revision.  
  • Lock Teams meetings from additional attendees. 
  • Record classes automatically. 
  • Use a virtual laser pointer in PowerPoint. 
  • Lower all raised hands in Teams meetings. 
  • Immersive Reader for mobile.  
  • More features for Android users.  

Group assignments. 

Teams has introduced a new group assignments feature, allowing students to work together and submit one assignment for the whole group. Teachers can then provide feedback and grades to either each individual student within that group or give out an overall grade for the group.  

Interested in this feature? We have created a short guide and step-by-step video for you on Group Assignments here.  




This feature is great for when you need a student to do extra work after you’ve provided feedback, or even if they’ve simply forgotten to attach a document to their assignment. 

From a student point of view, the assignment is visible in their “active work” list, and they can see the feedback you’ve initially provided.  

All you need to do is select More options next to Return when you’re reviewing a student assignment and then select Return for revision.  

Image: Microsoft

Improved features for hybrid teaching. 

Blended learning, hybrid classroom – whatever you’re calling it in your school – teaching students in school and providing support to those learning from home due to self-isolation can be challenging. 

Teams has brought out several features to improve both teacher and student experience.  

First up, there’s an auto-record setting you can now toggle on and off in your Meeting options as a teacher. Selecting Record automatically does exactly what it says on the tin and records your meeting automatically so that you don’t need to worry about forgetting to record when you start your class.  

Image: Microsoft

Note: You will need to change this per meeting, there isn’t yet a button for recording every meeting automatically.  

During Teams lessons, you can now create a virtual laser pointer when presenting with PowerPoint Live. Only the active “in control” presenter can make annotations – so you don’t need to worry about students becoming distracted and trying out the feature for themselves!  

Many have been using the Raised Hands feature in Teams to allow students to virtually notify the teacher when they want to ask a question. However, up until now, there has been no way for teachers to lower raised hands, and if a student forgets to lower their raised hand, it can be confusing.  

Teams has introduced the ability to lower all raised hands via the Participants pane.  

Better security features for student safety.  

Running lessons in Teams has always been secure, but Microsoft has introduced even more layers of security to ensure student and staff safety.  

Teachers can now lock a class or meeting from any additional attendees. This helps the class stay focused and avoid unnecessary disruption.  

You can find the Lock the meeting option in the Participants pane 

If you want to find out more about boosting security in your Teams lessons, check out this guide on dealing with unwanted guests in Class Teams 

Lock class meetings
Image: Microsoft

Enhanced mobile experience. 

Microsoft has been busy making some general improvements to the mobile experience of Teams.  

Great news! We know a lot of students have relied on their mobile devices to stay connected to their classmates and learning resources during the pandemic.  

In fact, according to the Children’s Commissioner, almost 10% of families in the UK do not have a laptop, desktop computer or tablet. So naturally, many students have been using shared mobile devices to access their lessons and homework.  

Some important updates include a mobile version of Immersive Reader, which reads aloud posts and chat messages for users, and an easier-to-navigate Assignments tool.  

Find out how this school is using Immersive Reader to support SEN and EAL students

Assignments on mobile
Image: Microsoft

Teams is now also available on Android tablets and accessing files offline is also available on Android devices.  

If you would like to learn more about how we can help your organisation achieve more with Microsoft, please contact a member of our team today. 

 

 

 

 

How To Create a Group Assignment in Class Teams

Teams has introduced a new group assignments feature, allowing students to work together and submit one assignment for the whole group. Teachers can then provide feedback and grades to either each individual student within that group or give out an overall grade for the group.   

Below is a walk-through of how you can: 

  • Create a group assignment. 
  • Manually and randomly assign groups for assignments.  
  • Complete a group assignment (as a student). 
  • Grade a group assignment.  


Create a group assignment.  

In Assignments, select Create and then Assignment.  

As with any new assignment in Teams, you can enter a title, instructions, attach any documents the students require, add points and rubrics and set due dates.  

To assign the assignment to a group, go to the Assign to section and this will be currently set to the default All students. Select Group of students from the drop-down menu.  

Group Assignments in Teams 1 - Create a group assignment

You have two options – to manually or randomly assign groups for your assignment.  

Group Assignments in Teams 3 - Manually group students or randomly group students

Manually assign groups for assignments.  

Select Manually group students from the pop-up window and then click Create groups. 

This allows you to filter and manually add specific students to a group. 

You can also add a group name for this group of students.  

Once you’re happy with your first group, click Create. 

Group Assignments in Teams 4 - Manually assign students to a group assignment

You can then choose to add another manual group or randomly assign other groups.  

Tip: There is a countdown of how many students are left to be assigned to a group at the top of the group list.  

Randomly assign groups for assignments. 

Select Randomly assign groups from the pop-up window. 

Enter the number of groups you need and select Create groups 

Group Assignments in Teams 5 - Randomly assign students to a group assignment

You can then go in and add/remove students from groups and change the group names if necessary.  

Editing and deleting assignment groups in Teams.  

If you haven’t already set the assignment, you can edit and delete groups by selecting the pencil icon next to the group you wish to edit.  

From here, you can add or remove members and change the group name. You can also delete the group. 

Want to start over? You can recreate groups by selecting Recreate groups at the bottom of your list of groups.  

Group Assignments in Teams 6 - Recreate groups

Assigning a group assignment in Teams.  

Once you’re happy with your groups, click Done to head back to the main Assignments page and select Assign 

Note: Currently, there is no option to edit groups after an assignment is set. You would need to delete the assignment and reassign all the groups.  

Completing and submitting a group assignment as a student.  

The group project is visible in the students’ general channel – they should receive a notification.  

Group Assignments in Teams 7 - Group Assignment student view

Also, if the student clicks on Assignments, they are able to view the group assessment, see who else is in their group, and open/co-author the document with their classmates.  

Once the group work is complete, one of them can turn in the work on behalf of the whole group by selecting Turn in for group. 

Group Assignments in Teams 9 - Turn in a group assignment

Note: If they have forgotten to add something, students can undo the turn in and add further information, attachments and work. 

Reviewing a group assessment.  

Teachers can see which groups have handed in the assignment by viewing the assignment in the Assignments tab in Teams.  

Group Assignments in Teams 10 - Reviewing group assignments

You can choose to give the group an overall grade or grade students individually by selecting the three dots next to the selected group.  

From here, you can add feedback and give points as you would any other assignment. 

Group Assignments in Teams 11 - Grading group assignments

Click Return to return the work back to students for them to view your feedback or make amends. 

Head to the Grades tab to look at a class overview of who has handed in their group assignments.

Group Assignments in Teams 12 - Class overview of group assignments

If you would like to learn more about how we can help your organisation achieve more with Microsoft, please contact a member of our team today.