Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day and Microsoft has just announced several new features to help teachers. We’ve already covered Minecraft: Education Edition Camps and Club and the fact that Microsoft Teams can integrate with Minecraft: Education Edition. In addition to these, Microsoft announced Reading Progress for Microsoft Teams and several new tools to improve student engagement and support student well-being. Microsoft describes all of the new features in an educational blog post.
Reading Progress is a tool to help improve reading comprehension. It allows students to check in in a safe environment while they practice reading. Teachers can then review student progress, assess accuracy with its built-in auto-detection features, and analyze the results.
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Reading Progress integrates with the Education Insights dashboard, so teachers can easily track student progress. For example, teachers can examine the accuracy rate, correct words per minute, and pronunciation errors for specific students or for an entire class.
Microsoft Teams for Education students and teachers will be able to use Reading Progress before the next school year.
To help improve student engagement, teachers can organize students into working groups. Teachers will also be able to integrate “a variety of third-party apps directly into Teams,” although Microsoft doesn’t specify what new integrations are underway.
Microsoft is also promoting its free Reflect application within Microsoft Teams, which allows teachers to regularly learn from students. Reflect helps students identify emotions and improve their ability to communicate their feelings. This information can help students understand how emotions can affect learning. OneNote and Teams also have tools to improve student well-being, such as praise badges and sticker packs.
To help protect students, Microsoft is rolling out supervised chat functionality in Teams. Teachers can prevent students from starting new discussions unless an appropriate teacher is present while they are talking with other students. This feature should make it easier for school staff to follow the discussions. The feature will be available in May.
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