New Microsoft Teams features improve engagement and focus on well-being

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Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day, and Microsoft just announced several new features to help educators. We already covered Minecraft: Education Edition Camps and Club and the fact that Microsoft Teams can integrate with Minecraft: Education Edition. In addition to those, Microsoft announced Reading Progress for Microsoft Teams and several new tools to improve student engagement and support student well-being. Microsoft outlines all of the new features in an education blog post.

Reading Progress is a tool to help improve reading comprehension. It allows students to record themselves in a safe environment as they practice their reading. Teachers can then review student progress, assess accuracy with its built-in auto-detect features, and analyze results.

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Reading Progress integrates with the Education Insights dashboard, so teachers can easily track the progress of students. For example, educators can look at accuracy rate, correct words per minute, and mispronunciations for specific students or an entire class.

Students and teachers with Microsoft Teams for Education will be able to use Reading Progress ahead of the next school year.

To help improve student engagement, educators will be able to organize students into assignment groups. Educators will also be able to integrate a “variety of third-party apps directly in Teams,” though Microsoft doesn’t specify which new integrations are on the way.

Microsoft also highlights its free Reflect app within Microsoft Teams that lets educators regularly check in with students. Reflect helps students label emotions and improve their ability to communicate their feelings. These insights 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 a Supervised Chat feature within Teams. Educators can prevent students from starting new chats unless an appropriate educator is present while they speak with other students. The feature should make it easier for school staff to monitor discussions. The feature will be available in May.

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