Fostering an accessible, inclusive classroom that works for all students

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By Microsoft Education Team Posted on January 24, 2020 at 9:32 am

It’s Day 3 of Bett, where we’ve been bringing you updates and insights into how to use the latest and most effective ed tech tools and resources. It’s our final day live streaming from London. We explored how educators can help students develop communication, and collaboration skills while using free tools like Office 365 Education and Microsoft Teams in our Day 1 episode here and we shared how you can prepare students for jobs of the future in our Day 2 episode here. Today, we want to talk about how to use built-in accessible tools at no extra cost and the power of joining an innovative and caring community of like-minded innovators in education.

Today, we’ll dive into ways to provide students with personalized learning, how to foster inclusion to meet the needs of all the learners in your classroom, and the power of joining a global community devoted to improving equity in education. At Microsoft, we’re committed to providing you and your students with built-in accessibility tools at no extra cost. These can improve language, literacy and numeracy skills and give students of all abilities independence and the opportunity to learn without stigma.  

In this episode we will show you how:  

  • You can use available Immersive Reader features in the new Microsoft Edge  

  • You can now use Office 365 Education online for free, from anywhere, with built-in tools for accessibility  

  • You can promote student confidence and capacity to learn and improve independently with powerful learning tools 

For starters, we want to share this inspiring story about Louis Riel School Division in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where the entire community is focused on creating equitable, inclusive and accessible learning environments. Check out this case study and video below to learn about how the district went about meeting the needs of all students and how administrators support teachers in accessing education technology in ways that advance teaching and learning goals. 

Video for Live from BETT: What’s new in EDU–Fostering an accessible, inclusive classroom that works for all students

The new Microsoft Edge– supporting inclusive learning 

The web should have built-in flexibility and accessibility to support you and every student in your classroom. The new Microsoft Edge web browser supports inclusive classrooms with built-in Microsoft Learning Tools and helps every student learn and benefit from the web. Immersive Reader capabilities in Microsoft Edge help students, particularly struggling readers, stay engaged and promote reading skills. While using Microsoft Edge, teachers and students can use Immersive Reader to change text size to improve readability and hear text read aloud. Additional Immersive Reader capabilities that allow users to customize their experience will come later this year. 

Learning Tools 

Today’s classrooms have students with diverse learning needs, and as teachers, we know you have a strong desire to effectively reach every one of your students. Microsoft Learning Tools enable teachers to provide differentiated support to all students in reading, writing, and math as well as communication. We have updates below! 


Immersive Reader 

We’re thrilled that the Immersive Reader learning tool continues to come to more platforms. The full-screen reading experience improves the readability of content in many ways, including by enabling users to tailor text size, fonts, spacing, line focus, read-aloud capabilities and more.

Here’s some additional Immersive Reader news: 

  • Spotlight on The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria and Azure AI partner Buncee: We’re inspired by the way that schools like the Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria (TYWLS) are using Immersive Reader to empower readers of all ages and reading abilities. Learn more about their story and how Azure AI is enabling partners to build accessible applications in our blog.
Video for Live from BETT: What’s new in EDU–Fostering an accessible, inclusive classroom that works for all students
  • Six new immersive Reader partners: Today we are excited to highlight six new partners who are integrating the Immersive Reader: FlocabularyHaldorHelperbirditsLearningKidblog and Pear Deck.  These are the latest of six partners that have integrated the Immersive Reader, which is an Azure Cognitive Service.  To see the growing list of Immersive Reader partners, bookmark this link

  • Office Lens for iOS and Android both now have the full Immersive Reader experience integrated with the latest updates for both iPhone and iPad. Office Lens on Android (all platforms) will be shipping a similar update in spring. Office Lens is a free mobile scanning app. It offers a great way to capture text from a document or elsewhere without manually having to retype it. 
  • Language updates: Parts of speech in Immersive Reader allows students to label nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. We’ve rolled out parts of speech for Arabic. We’ve also added the ability to translate to and from the Maori and Gaelic languages in the Immersive Reader. These will also be available in Live Presentations in PowerPoint for the Web. 
  • Immersive Reader for Microsoft Forms is now available globally for students and educators, so they can leverage Immersive Reader tools as they create or take a quiz.  


Dictation (speech to text) is an important technology that allows people to easily type with their voice. It is especially helpful for those with dyslexia, dysgraphia or mobility impairments. In addition to about a dozen languages already available, we are rolling out Dictation support in public preview for five new languages: Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish. These languages will start rolling out in Word, OneNote, Outlook and PowerPoint Desktop and web in late January.   


Equation Tools in OneNote for Windows 10  

We’re thrilled to let you know that we’re starting to roll out Equation Tools in OneNote for Windows 10. Equation Tools allows students to input and make changes to math equations more easily than by typing those in with a keyboard. To get started, all you do is press the Equation button in the ribbon Insert tab in OneNote on your Windows 10 device and choose from a range of structures and math symbols to build up equations.  

We believe an inclusive math class is one where students have a variety of methods for inputting equations because we know different learners have different styles and needs, and we’re so glad to add this resource to the classroom toolbox!  

Math Assistant in OneNote for iPad 

We’re excited to announce we’re bringing Math Assistant in OneNote to iPad users this spring. We heard you say you wanted Math Assistant on this platform, and we worked hard to make it happen. It’s easy to use–all you do to get started is log into your Office 365 Education account in OneNote on your iPad and press the Math button on the ribbon Draw tab. 

You’ll be able to use the tool to help you solve equations and see solution steps to help build student understanding. Look out for additional updates to the app, such as the ability to graph equations and generate practice quizzes, which is popular on other platforms, after Bett and ahead of back-to-school season.  

For more on inclusive math tools, check out this interactive guide.  

A photo showing how you can use Math assistant in OneNote for iPad.

Windows graphing calculator for Windows 10 

We’re excited to announce that Windows Calculator is getting a new feature: graphing mode. We’re adding this feature to every Windows 10 and 10S PC for students and teachers to help with instruction related to graphing concepts. Educators and students will be able to use this free tool right from their devices, without having to buy an expensive graphing calculator. It will help users plot and analyze multiple equations and manipulate equation variables to help understand how changes to equations affect graphs. 

The graphing mode in Windows Calculator is available now through our Microsoft Insider program and will be refined and released for a general audience before back-to-school season.  

We’re excited to make this feature available to Windows 10 users, offering a built-in, easy-to-use tool that can help create a more inclusive learning environment. Many of you have asked if educators can disable the feature if they need to, for assessments for example, and the answer is yes. It’s yours to use with your students, as that makes sense. 

We welcome your feedback. We’ve open sourced the Windows Calculator app on GitHub, which means those of you who are computer science educators, or have some background knowledge, can study the source code, build system, unit tests and product roadmap and offer new ideas for improvements. We always enjoy seeing educators, and sometimes their students, get involved in this kind of collaboration. If you see a feature that is missing, build it yourself and add it to the graphing calculator! You can read more here

An image showcasing a function created by Windows Calculator app on GitHub.


OneNote Live Captions. As we noted in our Bett kickoff post, a recent study at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP), found that 42 percent of students use closed captions to help maintain focus and 38 percent use interactive transcripts to help them better retain information. In addition, student outcomes improve with the use of transcripts. This month, we are rolling out a private preview of OneNote that allows any student to connect OneNote to a Microsoft Translator captions via a Join Code and receive the captions and translation stream.  

This allows captions from the educator speaking to flow directly into OneNote for reading, while still allowing the student to take notes. In addition, the student can pause the captions, highlight portions, and then have the entire transcription saved as a page into OneNote. This feature will benefit all learners but especially those who may be hard of hearing or speak multiple languages. We’ll start by rolling out OneNote Live Captions in private Beta in early February with more general availability to follow.  

Empower Every Voice with Flipgrid: Microsoft’s free video discussion platform!

NEW! Edit captions, launch the Immersive Reader on video transcripts, and more. Flipgrid enables you to empower every voice in your classroom by recording and sharing short, awesome videos … together! Since last year, Flipgrid revolutionized the camera, adding trimming and rearranging clips, whiteboard mode, live inking, and more. Furthermore, every video is now automatically transcribed and close-captioned by Microsoft Azure. Take engagement to the next level by “sticking” videos ANYWHERE with the transformative Flipgrid AR. Inspired by your feedback and ideas, the Flipgrid team is constantly innovating and improving for you, your community, and your peers from 190 countries around the world.

Wrapping it up 

Thanks for checking out our latest episode of What’s New in EDU, live from Bett 2020 and those we brought you earlier in the week. We’ve enjoyed meeting so many innovative and passionate educators here in London. And we hope you found the information we brought you to be helpful. Please check out our new tech tools, free teacher training resources, STEM and computer science materials and advice on boosting future-ready skills in your students. As always, share your feedback with us on Twitter by tagging @MicrosoftEDU! 

How I lead remote learning in Hong Kong during school closures

How i lead remote-learning in hong-kong during school closures

adopted from

By Ng Wai Ying, Winnie, Head of Chinese at St. Hilary’s Primary School,
Head of Chinese at St. Hilary’s Primary School Hong Kong
Posted on March 19, 2020 at 2:57 pm

We got the news on the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, which fell on January 25. The Education Bureau of Hong Kong announced all schools would be suspended due to the COVID-19 virus. Our school principal immediately set up an emergency meeting to figure out how we would resume instruction after the holiday.

Since we use Microsoft tools, I quickly realized it would make sense for Teams and OneNote to play a leading role in online lessons for my students. We were learning as we went, much like many other educators like you and below I’ve shared my tips and our experience launching distance learning.


This was our first lesson. The students opened their cameras and got to work online from their homes.

Try first

I started by selecting some of my Grade 6 students to help me pilot live lessons. To begin, I prepared a trial lesson in Teams to observe student behavior and responses. In the lesson, I checked whether they could hear me, recorded the meeting, and showed them a video. After that trial, I gained confidence that this could work. Still, before the first actual lesson, I held a second trial for the whole class. This time, I provided time for them to greet each other. When kids are stuck at home, they really miss their friends!My students also tried out some functions, such as giving likes to posts. I then walked them through Teams, followed by some rules for live lessons, including how and when to turn on/off their microphones.With 20 students ready to learn, I shared my screen, and then I showed my PowerPoint and video. My students were excited for the online class. All in all, it was a very good start!

Setting ground rules

In Chinese class, we only speak Mandarin, and I wanted to make sure some of our regular procedures applied to online learning. So, I set up ground rules, including no casual messages, no emojis, and no speaking English during the lessons. We went over these in Teams, and I inserted a Microsoft Forms survey right in our Teams channel to ensure the children had them down before we got to work.

Fostering student engagement and a positive culture

Screen sharing is one the most important functions of leading engaging online lessons in Teams. I am so glad that Teams lets me seamlessly switch my screens to show PowerPoint decks or class notes in OneNote, for example.

I believe mutual respect and good feedback are essential with any kind of instruction, and this has been a good opportunity to teach my students to be respectful online world. Praise from teachers to students can reinforce good online behavior, which can help students stay engaged and focused during instruction. Sometimes, I share examples of good student work online to provide recognition for a job well done. See below.

It’s also important to continue to make learning fun!

Below you’ll see we played an online bingo game in OneNote to work on vocabulary.

During this style of online teaching, students can still collaborate. I gave out rubrics that students can use to evaluate each other’s work. Students then modify and improve their work after participating in peer evaluations.

Integrating Teams, OneNote, Forms, and Flipgrid


I’m glad my students were already used to using tools like OneNote, Forms, and Flipgrid. We often have collaboration activities going on in our classroom, such as using OneNote as a tool to edit writing. We use Flipgrid as a formative assessment tool for recording student thoughts about a unit or a topic.

With Teams, there are two modes for conversation that we use, the Chat and Post functions. I’ve tried to open four or five groups using Chat, as it is easier for me to add or remove people there. The way I think about this is as having two kinds of classrooms. Chat is a small classroom for discussion groups, and Post is a big classroom for teacher-led instruction.

I’ve asked some of my students to be group leaders for helping me monitoring others in the small-group discussions. I’ve told them if the time is over, they must ask all the group members to leave and go back to the big classroom (the Post meeting).

This all took some getting used to. When five calls popped up on my screen at the same time, I had to decide which group I needed to help first. I’ve found that I can work with a maximum of four groups through the Chat function at the same time. I just need to press a button to enter different groups. My students always say “Wow, Miss Ng, you’re here again! How come we didn’t notice it.” They love to have their own rooms for discussion. Up to now, they’ve shown mutual respect to others and never abuse the right to use Chatroom.

Group writing and editing with tablets and pencils

Learning a language is not only about reading, but also writing. Teams allows my students to hear their peers and write things at the same time. We use OneNote as a collaboration space for group work. Students sometimes ink in different colors to easily distinguish their work.

Below, groups use collaboration space for editing their writing and evaluating the work using rubrics. 

Using Flipgrid as a debate platform 

We need to build in time and space for students to nurture their creativity, and Flipgrid is a great tool to support that. In addition, developing students’ debate skills is part of our learning objectives, and Flipgrid serves as a virtual debate platform. I can put the Flipgrid link or tag in Teams so students can get to it easily.

I use emojis or gifs to help students choose the right topic.

Here are my grids

Getting the hang of remote learning
So far, I’ve completed more than two dozen live lessons and I’ve grown more and more confident in my ability to teach this way to meet the needs of my students during these challenging times. The Hong Kong government says schools will remain closed until April 20, or later. I’m glad I have these online tools at my fingertips, and I hope my experience can help other teachers prepare for remote learning. It’s not easy, but it is doable and students benefit greatly. Take a look here for more helpful tips on how Microsoft can support remote learning and stay tuned to the Microsoft Education Blog as more educators share their learnings.

Check out Microsoft’s remote learning resources.

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The features

  • Canvas allows students to access learning the when, where, and how best fits their lifestyle(s).
  • Open platform helps teachers try new things and promotes a spirit of learning innovation across your institution with a vibrant ecosystem of third-party tools
  • Canvas provides an industry-best, guaranteed 99.9% uptime Service Level Agreement (SLA) to all customers
  • Communication features offer more than just an email inbox; we provide users with a global notifications panel that lets them choose both how they’d like to receive information (via email, text message, or push notification) and when (instantly, daily, weekly, never, etc.)
  • Canvas supports teachers in improving student achievement for everyone, from the littlest learners to college-bound seniors and beyond
  • Provides familiar, consistent learning tools during the entire student experience
  • Offering a virtual classroom that grows and adapts along with each school. Canvas makes it easy for districts to identify their highest-performing classrooms, take what works, and scale it across classrooms and schools district-wide
  • Accurate, actionable data is the key to identifying levels of student understanding and adjusting teaching and learning accordingly
  • Easy to quickly gather the data via in-class and benchmark assessments so teachers and admins can get to the important part: using it
  • Canvas makes it easy to provide engaging, relevant professional development that teachers can access any time, from anywhere that fits their schedules

The tools within Canvas

Online tutorial videos

Microsoft OneNote

The features

  • Get organized in notebooks you can divide into sections and pages. With easy navigation and search, you’ll always find your notes right where you left them.
  • Revise your notes with type, highlighting, or ink annotations. With OneNote across all your devices, you’ll never miss a flash of inspiration.
  • Sort content across notebooks, sections, and pages.
  • Draw your thoughts and annotate your notes, using a stylus or your finger.
  • Record audio notes, insert online videos, and add files.
  • Use the OneNote Web Clipper to save content with a single click.
  • Teachers can use OneNote to organize lesson plans in searchable digital notebooks, and staff can create a sharable content library. Encourage students to handwrite notes and sketch diagrams.

Online Tutorial Videos

Google Forms

The features

  • Manage event registrations, whip up a quick poll, collect email addresses for a newsletter, create a pop quiz, and much more.
  • Use your own photo or logo, and Forms will pick just the right colors to complete your own unique form, or choose from a set of curated themes to set the tone.
  • Choose from a bunch of question options, from multiple choice to dropdowns to a linear scale. Add images and YouTube videos, or get fancy with page branching and question skip logic.
  • Forms is responsive, so that means it’s easy (and beautiful) to make, edit, and respond to forms on screens big and small.
  • Responses to your surveys are neatly and automatically collected in Forms, with real time response info and charts. Or, take your data further by viewing it all in Sheets.

Online Tutorial Videos

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The features

  • Engage students by inviting them to contribute to a group collection! Whether they’re adding text, links, videos, images or Flipgrid shorts, you can make sure your students are engaging with your subject, even when they’re not in school.
  • Wakelet’s integration with Microsoft Teams allows for optimized collaboration with colleagues.
  • Easily able to curate all the resources for students in one web link,a picture of the exam board outcomes, a short video from YouTube and a Microsoft Form (quiz) for them to test their understanding of the topic they’re revising
  • Target a specific area of the course to revise by providing contents in wakelet and how they could see exactly what they needed to know
  • Encourage active listening by sharing weekly podcasts.
  • Open classroom to the world in the form of newsletters, parent communication and multimedia publications
  • Quick revision of important concepts just before the assessments
  • To track & share student progress in the form of Student Digital Portfolios

Online Tutorial Videos