Category Archives: Teacher Guide

How to get students more engaged outside of the classroom

Getting students engaged outside of the classroom can be difficult. While most students understand that they must complete homework and assignments for their classes, creating homework assignments that are engaging helps to reinforce learning and development.  

Below, we have some ideas on how you can use some of the tools in Microsoft 365, Teams and SharePoint to create brilliant and effective homework assignments.  

Use the Reading Progress tool. 

The Reading Progress tool in Microsoft Teams is a great way to liven up reading tasks, comprehension and language learning.  

Students can record video or audio of themselves reading a passage and submit it to their teachers for feedback or grading.  

What’s more, Microsoft picks up on any mispronunciations, omissions and repetitions – which is great for saving teacher time when marking.  

Students are also likely to feel more comfortable reading a passage in their own home, rather than aloud in front of their classmates.  

Grading a reading progress assignment in Microsoft Teams

Add audio clips into Class Notebooks and Assignments. 

It’s easy to add audio clips into Class Notebook and we know that some teachers have been using this feature to set learning objectives and instructions for homework tasks.  

Not only does this save the teacher time, but it also injects a bit of life into homework tasks.  

A new feature in Teams allows you to add video instructions directly to Assignments, while students can submit videos of themselves speaking a new language, practising a presentation, reading a passage or playing an instrument. 

Create revision videos that can be used again and again. 

Video is a great way to engage your students outside of the classroom as it’s a lot more engaging than sending over blocks of text and worksheets to revise from.  

You could keep a library of revision videos in SharePoint for your classes to access, or even embed videos into Class Notebook to compliment revision guides.  

As an additional bonus, when it comes to the end of the year, you can reuse the content you’ve created for your new classes – so there’s no duplication in work.

Get creative with whiteboards for assignments. 

A relatively new feature to Assignments, the whiteboard allows you to integrate a virtual board into Assignment tasks.  

You could either assign a previously created whiteboard (i.e. one that you created during a lesson) or add a blank whiteboard with students to work on.  

Another great idea is to create a whiteboard where students fill in the blanks. It gives your class something different to do than work in Word or their Class Notebook.  

Attaching a whiteboard to assignments in Microsoft Teams
Source: Microsoft Tech Community

Test knowledge with quizzes and forms. 

Quizzes and forms can be easily set up in Microsoft 365 and work great in and outside of the classroom.  

One idea is to use a form to quiz your students on their understanding of a previous lesson. Or, you could incorporate a quiz into a reading comprehension task.  

Not only are quizzes and forms more engaging than filling out a Word document, but it also gives you as a teacher an almost instant overview of whether the learning has been understood and what areas you may need to recap during the next lesson.  

onenote quiz

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 teachers can save time creating learning resources with Microsoft 365

We know that time is precious when you work in education; whether you’re marking, planning, or delivering a lesson, it can be tricky to find the time to get back to what you love about teaching.  

While we can’t increase the number of hours in your day, we can give you some ideas on saving time when creating learning resources with some essential tools and features in Microsoft 365.   

Centralise resources.   

Create a centralised, long-term resource bank in SharePoint for teaching resources, policies and other documents that can be reused and repurposed every academic year.   

With Microsoft 365, you can create designated areas in SharePoint that only users with the correct permissions can access. For example, only one department, only certain classes or students or only staff members.   

Not only does this save time each year by not having to replicate or reupload resources, but it also means that everyone has access to everything they need to work – whether that’s a student or staff member.  

We provide automation services to create centralised resource areas automatically from your school’s MIS data. Find out more by chatting to a member of our team.  

“Everything we need is in the cloud, so we don’t have to worry about losing paper worksheets. Pupils can also use SharePoint and Teams to download assignment tasks, refresh their memories, take quizzes and be in touch with the teacher in between lessons.” – Whitely Bay High School 

Co-author documents with colleagues.   

Word Documents, PowerPoints, Excel Spreadsheets, and more can be co-authored in real-time with your colleagues.  

Co-authoring is excellent if you need another staff member’s import on a document or if you’ve agreed to share the workload by co-creating learning resources for your department.   

Why spend hours creating a resource from scratch that your colleague has already spent time making?   

Instead, easily and securely share, edit and co-create documents with others in your school, academy or trust.   

Sharing is caring.   

By centralising your resources and co-authoring documents, you can begin to build a powerful library of learning materials that can be shared across an entire department, the whole school or even your trust.   

So, instead of ten teachers creating ten versions of the same document, you can pool together your resources and free up time to spend on other areas, like grading, working with students or professional development (or even just taking a break!). 

“Cloud Box has been transformational in the way we work and create learning content. We are now beginning to create revision resources that can be accessed by our pupils at any time on a connected device. Not only is this brilliant for the students, but also for staff who can dedicate more time to sharpening their message and delivery.” – The Ashcombe School.   

Rollover resources to the next academic year.  

With our Cloud Box solution, there’s no need to start from scratch when a new academic year rolls around.   

Instead, everything – your resources, classes and student information – is cleaned up and rolled over automatically, ready for the start of term.   

We use Microsoft School Data Sync (SDS) to start a rollover and clean-up process, our centralised resource areas allow you to reuse resources year on year, while the Class Dashboard enables students to easily access archived Teams from previous academic years.  

Already have Microsoft School Data Sync? Talk to us about how we can extend this to provide central resource areas, SharePoint intranets, Class Cover tools and much more  

Not set up with Microsoft School Data Sync? We can help you get started and future-proof your Class Teams setup. Contact us for a friendly chat with one of our Education Experts.    

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 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

How to use Presenter Mode in a Microsoft Teams Meeting

Using Presenter Mode in a Microsoft Class Teams meeting gives teachers more control over their lesson. They have access to their presenter notes and all the usual Class Teams tools, plus additional presenter options.  

Presenter Mode is only available in the desktop application of Teams.  

 In this quick guide, we show you how to use Presenter Mode and get the most out of it for your next lesson.  

Setting up Presenter Mode in Microsoft Teams. 

Once the Teams meeting has started, select Share Content on the navigation bar. 

Share content in Presenter Mode for Class Teams

This opens up a menu where you can choose to share your entire desktop, specific windows, Microsoft Whiteboard or PowerPoint.  

Select Browse on the right-hand side to either Upload from my computer or OneDrive depending on where your PowerPoint is located.  

 Upload presentation from desktop into a Class Teams meeting

Once you select your PowerPoint, it opens up into the Class Teams meeting.  

Presenter tools in Class Teams. 

The full range of meeting tools, such as View Participants, Meeting Chat and the More Actions menu (…) are visible and you’re able to easily scroll back and forth between slides.  

View participants window is availlable in Presenter Mode z

There are also some additional options beneath your slide deck, including Go to slide, which allows you to bring up a grid of your slide deck and choose a specific slide you wish to present.  

Go to slide view in Presenter Mode

Meanwhile, under More actions (…), you can hide the presenter view from yourself so you don’t see your notes, just the slides.  

Hide presenter view in Presenter Mode 

A further option is to View slides in high contrastToggle this on to only view the images and text on your slides and remove any extra design elements or backgrounds. This won’t change the view for students, only teachers.  

View slides in high contrast in Presenter Mode

What do students see when teachers are using Presenter Mode? 

Students can scroll through the slide deck using the private viewing bar and then select Back to presenter to go back to the slide the teacher is currently on.  

This feature can be switched off by teachers by clicking the Eye icon. When disabled, a line appears across the Eye icon and students are unable to scroll through the slides while you’re teaching.  

Prevent participants from moving through shared presentation on their own

Playing video clips in Presenter Mode. 

There are two ways of showing video clips when in Presenter Mode:  

Videos in Class Teams Presenter Mode

One option is to embed a video into your presentation. This can be viewed by selecting the play button, which plays the video within the presentation.   

Note: This only works if students have the latest version of PowerPoint installed on their device.  

Secondly, you could include a video link. Clicking a link opens the video on a separate window.  

To show the video to your students within the lesson, you need to go back to the Share content button and select the window the video has opened in. 

If you’re using a two-screen setup, it will open on your other screen and in the same way, select Screen #1 or Screen #2, depending on which screen it has opened in.  

Note: You also need to toggle on Include computer sound for your students to hear the video.  

Watch a step-by-step guide on how to use presenter mode in class teams: 

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



Embracing Microsoft at the Fallibroome Trust (Microsoft 365 User Adoption Episode 15)

In this podcast episode, we speak with Stuart Carvell, Assistant Head at Eaton Bank Academy, which is part of the Fallibroome Trust about how Microsoft 365 is being rolled out across the trust and its academies and schools.




Listen on Spotify

“Microsoft 365 was an obvious choice for Eaton Bank Academy. Many of the schools in the Fallibroome Trust are Microsoft Schools, with some exceptions,” says Stuart. 

“As the trust grows, our need to be able to collaborate across schools increases and Microsoft is helping us do this.” 

As with any new technology or process, getting everyone on board can be a challenge. Stuart outlines how the trust is helping people feel more confident with Microsoft by using champions in each school and department:

“It’s good to have people feeling confident when using a new product. We had a group of early adopters that championed Microsoft and shared knowledge with other members of staff,” he tells us.

“The team was made up of around 12-15 people from a range of subjects, job roles and IT ability.”

Skill sharing in this way has been an integral part of user adoption success at Fallibroome and this helped the trust face lockdown and the subsequent school closures.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, we brought together our primary and secondary colleagues and asked them to share what they’ve learned about Microsoft 365,” Stuart reveals.

“We’re very lucky that our staff were enthusiastic and ready to share their knowledge.” 

One key to getting staff on board with new technology is to demonstrate its benefits to their everyday teaching.

“In the long run, using these digital tools will save our staff a lot of time. However, it will take time and effort initially,” Stuart continues. 

“Before using Microsoft, we were so used to sending different versions of files, but now we have the ability to co-author the same documents at the same time. It’s all about changing those habits to benefit us in the long term.” 

Adopting Microsoft 365 has also enabled their students to become more independent:

“Our students have become more independent and have said using the software has been a positive experience for them. But can we evidence this? I’m not sure at this point,” he adds.

“What I will say is that, if you asked me a year or two ago if our students could manage their own time, receive an education without being in school and organise their own learning, I would have said no. But now they can do all of that.” 

Another challenge that has affected the Fallibroome Trust is making sure everyone has access to suitable devices and a good level of digital literacy. 

They have created videos and resources to upskill both parents and students, alongside looking into how they can support the school community with laptop lending and loan schemes. 

Stuart tells us that the Fallibroome Trust still has a way to go in terms of its long-term strategy for online learning. But teachers and students are beginning to make real use out of the digital resources and in some cases, online learning has become common practice:

“My colleagues and I have become more comfortable in creating video content for our students and thinking ahead towards a blended approach. Meanwhile, all of our assignments and homework tasks are completed in Teams, so the students are continually using the product and refreshing their skills daily.” Stuart enthuses. 

“Our strategy goes beyond the pandemic. We are building resource libraries and thinking of them as long-term resources that we can use year after year.” 
 

Want to discuss how your school or trust can adopt Microsoft 365? Speak to Cloud Design Box’s education experts today.

Why Should Your School or Trust Use Microsoft School Data Sync? 

When considering Teams for your school, there are several different approaches, you can create your own Class Teams manually, use a PowerShell script or take advantage of Microsoft’s School Data Sync.  

Below, we have rounded up the pros and cons of each method so you can decide which is best for your school, academy or multi-academy trust.  

Create your own classes manually. 

Teachers can create their own Class Teams and manually add or remove students as and when they join or leave the school. 

However, this process is very time consuming and needs to be repeated every new school year, with the teacher also responsible for keeping track of new students and those that may leave the school.  

This is more suited to primary schools or smaller schools where there aren’t that many classes to create and maintain.  

Pros: 

  • Teachers can quickly create and maintain their own Class Teams. 
  • No additional coding or script is needed.  

Cons: 

  • It’s time-consuming. 
  • Whole school reporting is limited. 
  • No standardisation across Teams. 
  • No parental engagement tools. 
  • Manual archiving rollover process each academic year. 

Use a PowerShell script. 

A PowerShell script can be generated to create your Class Team as a one-off or ongoing link via your school’s MIS. This creates the classes and keeps them updated, however, there are limits to using PowerShell, such as some functionality that is provided by Microsoft School Data Sync.  

Pros:  

  • Less time consuming than manually creating your Class Teams.  

Cons: 

  • Limited functionality when it comes to whole school reports.  
  • Some features provided by Microsoft School Data Sync are not available with PowerShell. 
  • Scripts required to archive classes and roll over the academic year. 
  • No parental engagement tools.  

 

Use Microsoft School Data Sync.

Microsoft School Data Sync (SDS) is recommended best practice when creating and maintaining Class Teams. 

Not only are there several APIs and third-party products to help you automate a lot of the process, but there are many added benefits to using SDS.   

Firstly, you’re able to include additional information to your data set, including grades (year groups), courses (subjects), schools and more, which enables you to report on insights across the entire school. These reports help your leadership team improve user adoption and provide support where needed.  

At the end of each academic year, there is a clear rollover and clean-up process, automatically linking up with your MIS and allowing all students and staff  (new and continuing) access to everything they need while removing permissions of school leavers and former members of staff.   

Another useful feature is the parental engagement tools – SDS uploads guardian information to automate weekly email digests of work set through Teams for their children.  

Microsoft is continually working on new features to support the ever-changing landscape of education and blended learning. In fact, it’s going to be rolled up into a bigger Microsoft Data Sync model, so you may see a name change shortly, but the data strategy will still be as powerful, if not more.  

Pros: 

  • Automated creation of Class Teams linked to MIS. 
  • Automated roundup sent to parents/guardians of their child’s work. 
  • In-depth school/trust-wide reports that enable you to provide better leadership, training and support to your students and staff.  
  • Easy-to-use rollover process – no manual set up each academic year.  

Cons: 

  • Third-party products may be required to set up a live link with School MIS because doing it manually with CSVs can be time-consuming. 

Microsoft School Data Sync is best suited to schools, academies and multi-academy trusts that wish to save teacher time, achieve more with their data and support students in a blended learning approach.  

Already have Microsoft School Data Sync? Talk to us about how we can extend this to provide central resource areas, SharePoint intranets, Class Cover tools and much more

Not set up with Microsoft School Data Sync? We can help you get started and future-proof your Class Teams setup. Contact us for a friendly chat with one of our Education Experts.  

How To Share Pages From Non-Class Notebooks to a Student’s Class Notebook in Teams and OneNote 

In this guide, we show you how to distribute a page from a non Class Notebook to a students’ Class Notebook within a Class Team.  

Here we have a Notebook that has been stored within an English resources folder on SharePoint. Within the Notebook, there’s a worksheet that we need to distribute to the Year 7 English students’ Class Notebooks. 

Select Class Notebook.  

Note: If this button is not visible, select Open in Desktop App from the top navigation bar. If the button still isn’t visible, it needs to be activated via the three-dot (…) menu and Settings in the top-right corner of the screen. 

Once you have selected Class Notebook, select Distribute page to bring up a number of options. 

Open Notebook Distribution

Choose Cross Notebook Distribution to bring up all the Notebooks of the classes you teach.  

From here, you can select the Notebooks you wish to share it to. E.g. “English Year 11” 

Select Student Section

You must then select a student section in the selected Notebook to share the Notebook to. E.g. “Homework”. This action distributes the worksheet from your Non-Class Notebook to your selected students’ Notebooks. In this case, “English Year 11”.   

How To Share Pages From Non-Class Notebooks to a Student’s Class Notebook in Teams and OneNote

Head to your selected Class Team to check whether it has been shared to the Class Notebooks. As you can see, the worksheet is now in the students’ Notebooks. 

Watch a step-by-step guide on how to lock your collaboration space in Class Teams: 

If you have any questions on how to share pages from non-Class Notebooks to a student’s Class Notebook, please contact a member of our team today.