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No matter what your level of experience is with Microsoft Teams, there are lots of easy solutions for your classroom should you need to implement remote learning in light of recent news.

Here are a range of ways I have used Microsoft Teams in my secondary school classroom when I have needed to implement remote learning in the past to help guide you on how you can make the most of technology in these challenging times.

1. I’m a Microsoft Teams newbie

If you don’t have much experience with Microsoft Teams and are looking to use it to communicate with your pupils when they are not in school, the ‘Files’ section is a great place to upload documents for the pupils to access.

I use the ‘Files’ section in Teams when I want pupils to complete past exam paper questions by uploading the past paper as a PDF to the class materials folder. Pupils cannot edit files in the class materials folder. I then post a comment in the chat to let them know the file has been uploaded and tell them which questions I want them to complete.

My pupils will complete the work and later that day, I post the file with the answers so pupils can self-assess their work.

Pupils can also upload a picture of their work and ask for help at any point during the day.

Here are some other things you could do:

    • In your class Team click on the ‘Files’ tab and upload files from your computer/OneDrive.
    • In the ‘Chat’ tab at the top, post a comment to tell pupils what file you want them to access and what you want them to do.
    • Pupils can respond by commenting in the chat or uploading a photo of the work in their notebook

2. I’ve mastered the basics

If you have mastered the basics of using Teams and have been sharing files with pupils, you may want to start setting assignments for them using Teams too.

For me, this is an easy way to distribute a file to each pupil in the class and have pupils work on a task with a specific deadline. The file could be a Word document, PowerPoint, Forms quiz,  or even a OneNote page amongst other formats.

My senior pupils recently had to complete a lab report for an experiment they did in class. In the assignments tab in Teams, I inserted a blank Word document, added the headings for each section (aim, method, results, conclusion) and sent this out for pupils to complete within 2 days.

Straight away I could see who has viewed the assignment and who had completed it. I could view each pupil’s work without leaving Teams and was able to give them feedback with next steps. Pupils were then able to make changes and resubmit their work.

By setting assignments in Teams your pupils will be able to easily check when their assignments are due, you’ll be able to see who has viewed and completed their assignments, and you are both able to check on progress and feedback throughout. You will also only have to upload one copy of the file which can then be distributed to all pupils.

Here are some other things you could do:

    • In your class Team click on the ‘Assignments’ tab
    • Select ‘create new assignment’ and add your file
    • Add a date and a time for the assignment to be completed
    • You can view the progress of your students at any time by clicking on that specific assignment
    • Once pupils have submitted you can look at each one and return it to the pupil along with your feedback.

3. I’m an advanced Teams user

Once you have mastered ‘assignments’ in Teams, you may want to host a live lesson for your class. You can use the ‘meet now’ feature or you can schedule a meeting at a particular time. This may seem daunting at first but it is a great way for students to know lessons will carry on, with the expectation of everyone attending in a virtual classroom.

The first time I tried a live lesson, I turned off my camera before joining the live meeting and shared my desktop with the pupils. I was then able to take them through a PowerPoint presentation, work through a biology question in OneNote, and even show the pupils how to create a graph.

Offline, I have used my phone as a visualiser and uploaded the video to the files section in Teams so pupils can watch on demand at a time that suits them. This worked very well when pupils were unable to meet at the specific time. You may even want to record the live lesson so pupils can watch later.

Here are some other things you could do:

    • In the chat section, select ‘meet now’ (the small video camera button at the bottom of the page)
    • To schedule a meeting go to your calendar and select ‘new meeting’ then a specific time.
    • Once in the meeting the toolbar has various option (share desktop, record meeting and blur background, live captions and there is a chat panel for students to type questions)

Whether you are an experienced Teams user or not, there are a variety of options available to you to ensure learning doesn’t stop because you and your students cannot be at school. I have found these tools very beneficial in my science class and pupils have found them easy to use on a computer or on their phone.

I would recommend testing it out with students first if you can.  Have them join the Teams site and download the app to their phone so they can receive notifications. My students us the join code (generated in settings) to access the site initially and I task them with taking a photo of their work on their phone and uploading it to the site so I can check they are comfortable using it.

There is a wealth of resources available online to help with remote learning and the product teams are always on Twitter to help when needed, check them out using #msftedu and @DominicWillit

Find out more

4 tips to make the most of remote learning and deliver an uninterrupted student experience

Remote teaching and learning in Office 365 Education 

About the authorSarah Clark headshot

Sarah Clark is a Biology and Science Teacher from Queen Anne High School, Dunfermline in Fife Scotland.  She has been a teacher for 20 years and MIEExpert for 5 years.  In her role as MIE Fellow she has been sharing her use of tools like OneNote and Teams with other teachers across Scotland.  This has lead her to be recognised in the Edtech 50 Yearbook 2020.  She is a firm believer in making the best use of the technology you have to enhance learning and teaching.