With the first half of the school year wrapping up in most places and the holidays upon us, we wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the resources we introduced in 2019 that you said were most helpful to you and your students. And we wanted to make sure you didn’t miss anything that could have a positive impact on your instruction going forward.
Reviewing engagement across our social media channels, it’s clear you liked this year’s updates to Learning Tools, free Microsoft resources that make classrooms more accessible and support students with reading, writing, math and communication. Learning tools are available in Microsoft products you use every day in the classroom. For more on how to incorporate Learning Tools into your classroom, check out this post.
We’re particularly grateful to you for sharing your stories about the benefits of Immersive Reader, which improves the readability of content and is integrated into Microsoft products as well as third-party applications. You noted that this integration was particularly helpful for students with dyslexia and other reading-related learning differences. Maria Mercedes Gazaneo, a teacher in Buenos Aires, explains eloquently here how previously reluctant readers have come around to loving reading with the help of Immersive Reader. At Microsoft Education, it’s our mission to empower every student to achieve more, and we’re so glad this tool, coupled with your commitment to your students, is helping advance that goal.
As far as product updates go, you told us loud (especially so at the rocking Flipgrid party at ISTE) and clear that the newly designed Flipgrid was a hit and is helping you elevate student voices in and beyond the classroom. We have you to thank. From FlipgridAR to the new Shorts Camera to Disco Library Playlists, every improvement to Flipgrid was created, driven, and inspired by your innovative ideas and feedback.
“Flipgrid gives students a VOICE! Flipgrid allows those that are quiet and nervous the opportunity to share their ideas and thoughts in a manner that is conducive to their learning styles. It appeals to every student in the classroom.” – Natasha Rachell, Education Technology Specialist with Atlanta Public Schools.
You also told us the new PowerPoint Presenter coach is another tool that is helping students develop strong communication skills. In case you haven’t tried it yet, the AI-powered tool lets students practice presentations and then provides guidance on pacing, language and more.
Thanks for letting us know you loved Microsoft Teams‘ new Simplified UX! The redesign is among many improvements to make teaching, assessment, and collaboration effective and easy, all while saving you time.
Speaking of saving time, Grade Sync is now integrated with PowerSchool, enabling teachers to sync assignments and grades directly to PowerTeacher Pro. But wait, there’s more! The new teacher gradebook with individualized student progress, weekly assignments summary email for parents and guardians and many others. Check out this post for more detail on all the Teams updates from this year!
Several exciting updates to Minecraft: Education Edition came your way this year too, based on helpful feedback from our educator community. Immersive Reader was integrated along with single sign-on and multiplayer join codes for an easier classroom experience. We launched Minecraft lessons and immersive worlds with NASA, World Wildlife Fund, and partners in New Zealand. Finally, a new Minecraft Hour of Code introduces students to coding with a lesson on preventing forest fires and artificial intelligence! Check out the free coding lesson in Minecraft: Education Edition, no license required. We talked about Hour of Code in last month’s What’s New in EDU, available here if you missed it.
Just ahead of the current school year, we made dozens of updates to OneNote and Class Notebook based on your input, and we’re glad to see you’re using those successfully. They include the ability to distribute pages to specific students, integrating OneNote and Class Notebook with Teams, and making it possible for students to generate math practice quizzes in OneNote. We’re glad to hear these updates are helping you personalize instruction and promote student-centered learning.
“I found OneNote to be a huge help, both in note taking and Immersive Reader. Also linking Microsoft Lens to OneNote has made other subject content ‘interactive.’ My learners were amazed, and this teacher applauds the ingenuity of Microsoft to cater for inclusive education.” –Viola Van der Westhuizen, a teacher in South Africa who works with youth in the criminal justice system.
Finally, we’ve seen those social media posts indicating you like the latest Microsoft Excel update, allowing you and your students to take a picture of data, say in a textbook, and then upload it and open it in Excel, where it’s converted into a table. We hope that’s helping your students develop analytical skills and solve real-world problems using data.
We’re thrilled to work with educators like you every day, as well as other partners committed to fostering inclusive learning environments that help all students succeed. This past year, we teamed up with some inspiring collaborators, and we’re so glad to see you celebrating those partnerships with us on social media. Just some of these include:
- A partnership with NASA to create hands-on, standards-aligned STEM lesson plans
- MakeCode, Cartoon Network and Adafruit joined forces to create tutorials and projects to encourage students to code and create and construct.
- We worked with Made by Dyslexia to create innovative teacher-training materials
- Microsoft Education joined the Discovery Education STEM Careers Coalition, which is connecting industry leaders and schools to boost STEM instruction and inspire students
Click here to read our Partner Spotlight series from ISTE 2019.
Free trainings, workshops and more
We know how committed you are to professional growth, and we’re so glad you found many of our teacher development tools to be useful in 2019. Among those you indicated were most helpful this year were:
- Free in-store trainings on using Microsoft Education tools. Our stores offer more than 200,000 hours of free workshops throughout the year, so find one that’s right for you!
- Our You Can in :90 video series, which offers quick tips for using Microsoft Education tools. We pick topics based on your input, so keep that coming.
- Resources like this how-to video to help you bring digital storytelling to life in your classroom with Video Editor for Windows 10.
- Our new Microsoft Educator Center, where you can take online courses and stay up on a host training opportunities and resources for educators.
- Our new newsletter. If you haven’t yet signed up, you can do so here.
It’s clear you enjoy connecting with each other and helping students do that, too. This year, thousands of students from more than 80 countries connected during our Global Learning Connection event, in which students meet virtually and listen to guest speakers using Teams, Skype and Flipgrid.
“The MSFTGlobalConnect was a HUGE HIGHLIGHT of my year.” –Kerry-Ann Van Der Merwe, a Grade 5 teacher in South Africa.
Speaking of guest speakers, you shared that you were inspired by the Skype in the Classroom event with world-renowned scientist and environmentalist Jane Goodall. Missed it? We’ve got you covered. You can find a recording here.
To those of you who participated in Hack the Classroom in June, a big thank you. We’re so grateful to you for being part of that engaging discussion on developing social and emotional skills in students, preparing them for future success, meeting the needs of English language learners and more.
We’re also thrilled to see how supportive you are of one another. Thank you for sharing the news about our Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts class of 2019-2020 and responding to our call on Twitter to tag other potential nominees. Speaking of Twitter, we also are overjoyed to see your enthusiasm for our regular TweetMeets. By far the most popular one of the year was the July TweetMeet focused on student-centered learning.
Windows 10 helps deliver personalized learning for every student. Find the right device for your school today. This month we’re featuring the Lenovo 100e, with pricing starting at just $199 USD for a 4/64 storage configuration with the latest-gen Intel Celeron processor. This durable laptop is built to endure the rough and tumble of the classroom with a new, sleek chassis and weighs just 2.7 lbs. All-day battery keeps everyone’s focus on lessons, not on hunting down a power cord.
Well, 2019 really was quite a year for us here on the Microsoft Education team. We’re so glad you found many of the resources we shared to be helpful to you and your students. We can’t wait to show you what’s ahead in the new year.
Mark your calendars for January 16, when we’ll have a Facebook Live event highlighting what we’re rolling out at the start of 2020. You won’t be disappointed.
As always, we love hearing from you and value your feedback. Let us know what you think of this list of highlights from the year on Twitter by tagging @MicrosoftEDU!