Microsoft Team is just one of the many online teaching platforms available to make the remote learning process a whole lot easier.
Not only can teachers use it to recreate the traditional classroom setup with the use of live video lessons, but they can also use it to store documents, share resources, streamline their teaching workflow and create more robust collaboration with their students.
Just in case you’re not familiar with Microsoft Teams already, here’s just a quick run-through of what you can do.
Microsoft Teams Teaching Benefits
- Send messages and announcements to individual students or whole classes at once
- Using the Channels feature, teachers can create sub-categories within each team for file storage, special projects, or focused topics
- Conduct video meetings using built-in Skype technology or participate in video discussions with Flipgrid, which is also integrated right into the platform
- Use OneNote Class Notebooks to share notes and files and give feedback to individual students.
Microsoft Teams also has assignment management tools, which allow teachers to:
- create, assign, collect, and give feedback on assignments
- attach relevant files (Microsoft Office Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote are built into the platform, so you can create with these tools and allow students to do the same)
- Create, save, and use rubrics to assess student work (the rubric builder is customisable and allows users to add written feedback and go back and adjust a score later).
Making Lessons Fun & Engaging in Teams
Okay, so you’re probably aware of the basics behind using Microsoft Teams for lessons. But do you know how to capture students’ attention and sustain it?
Thanks to the versatility of Teams, there are a number of ways teachers can keep things fresh and entertaining. Here are our favourite tips for boosting lesson engagement in Teams.
Record lessons to be watched again later
One major feature of Teams is the ability to record lessons during live video meetings and share them around later. This is hugely important as it allows students who may have been absent to catch up, or for present students to go back to particular aspects of the lesson they may wish to review and revise.
Not only does recording lessons enable students to get more out of those lessons (thus enhancing their engagement), it also ensures that absent students will be more engaged in the following lesson as they won’t feel like they’ve missed out.
Slow down & narrate your actions
It may seem to easy to simply carry out the motions as a teacher when setting up lessons or sharing resources…like 1, 2, 3. But slowing down and narrating everything you’re doing, when you’re doing it, will work wonders for students’ engagement.
For example: “I’m now just going to open up this PowerPoint here, and I’m going to navigate to this slide…can everybody see that? Joan, can you see that?”
Talking students through the lesson and addressing specific students by name ensures they are following and gives them the chance to say when things aren’t working.
Bring the class whiteboard online with Whiteboard
Microsoft Whiteboard is a freeform digital canvas that easily replicates the blackboard or whiteboard you would use in the classroom. Keep it free-style or transform work into professional-looking charts and shapes. Whiteboard works with pen, touch and keyboard.
Teachers can use it to teach concepts like they usually would, or to allow students to collaborate and share ideas.
Make Use of App Integrations
Microsoft Teams integrates seamlessly with other apps allowing teachers to make lessons varied and fun. This is where a large portion of Teams’ creativity comes from, as it really opens up doors in terms of delivering content to students, structuring lessons and setting tasks.
If a particular app is used frequently by a group, teachers can add a designatd tab to a channel just for that app, so students can find it quickly.
Here are some of the most popular apps inside the Teams environment.
Adding a live game of Kahoot! to your virtual lesson is a great way to help students feel more connected and build a strong team spirit.
Nearpod allows teachers to create and share interactive lessons with their students. Content can include quizzes, polls or even VR field trips, delivered in real-time to all students in the class.
Quizlet is a popular revision tool for students, with millions of study sets already created by teachers and students covering thousands of popular topics. All of the Quizlet activities, such as Flashcards, Learn, Write, Spell and the Match and Gravity games will run from inside Teams.
Flipgrid allows you to have Video Questions and Answers directly in your class’ Microsoft Teams Channel, using a range of devices. Students can also respond to other students, creating full class discussions.
Mix it up with blended learning
Blended learning can be difficult to achieve with a remote learning set-up and may take longer to produce. But remember that variety is key.
Not every lesson has to be a standard video chat meeting. Try mixing things up by setting a task students can do independently, and offer them the chance to join a video meeting if they want to ask questions. Or post a conversation starter by sharing a file in a channel. Students will be able to open and read the file you’ve shared, as well as comment in the conversation.
Invite experts to drop in
You can invite experts to drop into your class using Skype in the Classroom. This is great if your students are studying a particular topic where hearing a first-hand experience would really help with their understanding.
You could invite a local author to talk about their latest children’s book, or invite somebody that lived through WWII to share some of their stories.