In the busyness of the classroom, educators often find themselves navigating the challenge of maintaining student engagement amidst distractions. Microsoft Education can help with ideas designed to captivate students and foster creativity and connection. Explore three dynamic strategies to keep classrooms buzzing with enthusiasm: Collaborative storytelling, brain breaks in Microsoft Reflect, and digital video creation. 

Collaborative storytelling for a cause with Microsoft favorites 

Many schools choose to organize or participate in community service projects such as canned food drives or candy-gram fundraisers throughout the school year. Why not combine community service with collaborative storytelling? Enable your students to find purpose as they craft narratives that establish a personal connection with their audience, articulate the broader context of a fundraising project, and ultimately inspire school participation.  

Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, part of Microsoft 365 Education, support an array of creative storytelling endeavors. To keep your students fully engaged in the writing process, make the most of key functionalities:  

  • Real-time collaboration: Use Word for simultaneous drafting and ideating, encouraging students to collaborate on the same narrative. For the best experience, work together in Word for the web and see real-time changes. 
  • Comments and suggestions: Leverage the commenting and suggestion features in Word for peer-to-peer feedback and discussions.   
  • Researcher in Word and Smart Lookup in Microsoft 365 products: Encourage students to use these features to integrate real-world details into their narratives. Check out Research your paper easily within Word and Get insights into what you're working on with Smart Lookup to learn more. 
  • Hone presentation skills: Encourage students to practice their storytelling skills with Speaker Coach, a free, ready-to-use Learning Accelerator, that helps students develop good public speaking practices when presenting ideas to a group. Speaker Coach is currently available in PowerPoint, Microsoft Teams, and LinkedIn. Explore How educators can use Speaker Coach to develop confident public speakers to get started.
  • Dynamic storytelling: Give the cameo feature in the PowerPoint app a try! It adds a dynamic visual element with a live camera feed on a slide.   
  • Amp up visuals: Encourage students to use the Designer feature in PowerPoint. It automatically suggests design ideas for visually appealing presentations.  

DecorativeSpeaker Coach provides real-time feedback on metrics known to influence how an audience perceives a presentation, like filler words, repetitive language, inclusiveness, pace, and pitch.

Collaborative storytelling nurtures creativity and purpose, fostering a personal connection as students actively contribute to their community.

Take a brain break with Reflect 

Promote mental fitness, refresh the mind, and refocus with Microsoft Reflect, a powerful Learning Accelerator. Reflect can be a valuable ally to check-in on students’ emotions, helping you cultivate their essential social, emotional, and academic skills. It provides a space for meaningful teacher-student check-ins that can unveil insights that help teachers connect with students with compassion.    

Consider incorporating any of the ready-to-use activities from Reflect, like brain breaks and breathing exercises, throughout the school year. For example, check out the mindful coloring brain break, which aims to positively impact student well-being and engagement. 

Thinking about practical ways to integrate mindful coloring? Consider these classroom implementations:

  • Integrate it into daily routines: Embed mindful coloring breaks into your daily routine, offering students brief moments of respite during challenging periods.  
  • Incorporate it into check-ins: Enhance your Reflect check-ins with mindful coloring activities. It can contribute to student well-being and allow you to gain valuable insights into your students’ emotional states.  
  • Foster positive interaction: Encourage students to share their colored creations with their classmates to enable positive conversations about feelings. 

A digital coloring page in Microsoft Reflect that includes a scene with the oval-shaped, furry Feelings Monster character, and a color palette with 24 colors.A mindful coloring page in Microsoft Reflect, which can help foster student well-being and engagement.

The mindful coloring activities in Microsoft Reflect are more than a simple break; they are purposefully designed to enhance student well-being. Get started with Reflect in your classroom and explore all the brain breaks and mindfulness activities it has to offer.  

Capturing the moments of the season with Clipchamp 

Microsoft Clipchamp is a video editor designed to make video creation easy for everyone, even those with no prior editing experience. It allows you and your students to combine video, images, and audio files, as well as add text and effects, to create videos worthy of sharing!  

Try this creative, inclusive activity: Snapshot of the season. The goal is to create a short video, or snapshot, that reflects the diversity of activities and interests among your students in an inclusive fashion.  

  • Instruct your students to record short video clips (around 30 seconds each) capturing moments that represent their experiences of the season, like scenes from nature, favorite neighborhood spots, or snippets of their daily routines.  
  • Have your students upload their video clips to Clipchamp. The intuitive online editing tools will let them trim clips, add background music, include transitions, and experiment with other creative features to make their creations all their own.  
  • Compile the individual video projects into a final video, adding transitions for a smooth flow, then share the final product with your students. After viewing, encourage students to reflect on what they learned about their peers' interests and experiences.    

Clipchamp is accessible for students with varying levels of technical expertise, fostering digital literacy and video editing skills while allowing them to share personal connections. Encourage students to focus their creative energy to capture and celebrate the collective diversity of their seasonal moments.    

Foster creativity and connection with Microsoft  

Microsoft is dedicated to providing technology solutions that enhance collaboration, individualize student learning, and set students up for future success. Learn more about featured tools with our educator-created PDF quick start guides. Explore the Word, PowerPoint, Speaker Coach, and Reflect quick start guides and easily get started with Microsoft Education in your classroom.  

Looking to go deeper? Check out the Microsoft Learn Educator Center to: 

  • Learn with interactive lessons. 
  • Earn professional development hours. 
  • Acquire certifications. 
  • Find programs that help meet your goals. 

You’ll also find resources and product guides to support teaching and learning strategies in your classroom, along with ways to stay connected through our educator community. Visit the Microsoft Learn Educator Center to get started!