Category Archives: Office 365

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.    

Meet Cloud Design Box at EdTech’s biggest reunion

UPDATE: Bett has moved to Wednesday 23 – Friday 25 March 2022
Cloud Design Box is attending Bett 2022 – which returns to the ExCeL London from Wednesday 23 – Friday 25 March 2022. 

The most prominent international EdTech exhibition is back, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it for another year.  

You can find us at Stand NN42 – next to our partners SalamanderSoft – where you’ll be able to meet our team and talk one-to-one about your blended learning needs as a school or trust.  

We're at Bett 2022 - come down and meet us!

The long-awaited Bett 2022 – dubbed EdTech’s biggest reunion – provides a unique chance for educators to explore innovative product demonstrations, access CPD seminars and network with thousands of people in the education community.  

After months of virtual meetups, it’s going to be fantastic meeting you all in person and showing you all the new and exciting things teachers and schools can achieve with Microsoft Teams and SharePoint.  

We know many people will want to plan their visit ahead of time and avoid queues, so we’ve opened meeting slots for you to book a meeting with us at a time that suits you 

BOOK NOW

A photo of a previous Bett show

On the second day of the show, we’ll also be joining in with the first Bett After Hours – designed for visitors who cannot attend Bett during the school day. Open from 6pm-8pm on Thursday 24 March 2022.  

Bett is the first industry show of the year in the education technology landscape, bringing together 550+ leading exhibitors and sponsors and over 20,000 attendees from the global education community. 

It’s the event to attend for the education community…

And we cannot wait to see you there! 

Bett takes place at the ExCeL London on 23-25 March – Register your place here and reserve a meeting slot with Cloud Design Box here 

 

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

Microsoft have improved the student experience when it comes to seeing their feedback in reading progress. Take a look at the video to find out more.
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.