Teams Hacks

When routine bites hard
And ambitions are low
And resentment rides high
But emotions won’t grow
And we’re changing our ways
Taking different roads
Love, love will tear us apart again
Love, love will tear us apart again
– From ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division

 

Teams is really great (I think) however, just like all of us, it isn’t perfect.

And as is often the case, when we encounter those shortcomings in the things (and people) we love, it can be super frustrating (and let’s be honest feels more intense.)

However, those moments also present an opportunity for growth and often present us with the space for creativity.

Enter hacks.  Or what we used to call workarounds.

Any tech tool is going to require you to be creative and come up with different ways of doing things and Teams is no different. With that in mind, here are three hacks we’ve found pretty useful and also manageable for growing through Teams’ shortcomings.


Full Screen Video of Your Video

Meetings in Teams actually makes it kind of hard to feature your own video feed in all of the full screen glory it deserves. Instead, it shunts your video feed down to the lower corner as a thumbnail.

This is actually fine for me, but there are definitely times it would be nice to have yourself front in center. For instance, if you are drawing on a real whiteboard and want your students to be able see that whiteboard it would be nice to be full screen.

To do that you actually need to turn off your video feed in Teams and bring in the video feed from your computer’s webcam as a screen share (watch the video above.)

This is fairly straightforward once you recognize that it’s what you have to do. It works well and will ensure that your students get the full screen treatment they deserve and it also ensures that your recording will have that view since it’s a screen share.


Add Files for Feedback in Teams Assignments

Teams has some great options for providing feedback to students but one area that it falls short is giving students additional supports that might help them developing their learning more constructively.

Teachers often have a bank of documents, graphics organizers and other resources that are especially useful when delivered at the point of learning which is often when students are reviewing feedback.

There is no way to attach this documents through the feedback tools in Teams assignments which only offer a written feedback box and the ability to attach rubrics.

However, there is one other avenue of feedback in Teams that you can exploit.

If the student assignment was a Microsoft file such as Word, PowerPoint or Excel, you can go in and add information right on the document.

Which means, you can paste, add pictures or PDFs (depending on the document.)

So if I had a bank of writing supports stored as files in OneDrive, I could easily grab the share link and then paste those in the document for students to review when they get it back.

Add Links to Student Assignments

I know that attaching a document might be easier but taking a few minutes to build out your bank might actually save yourself some time in the long run.

One teacher, actually took the step of building a small table at the top of the Word documents she sends out with a space for Further Supports that she can just drop the link(s) in which helps draw student attention.


Table of Contents

Knowing where to go in Teams is sometimes confusing and requires a little coordination.

One quick way to help your students know where to go is to create a table of contents.

Teams Table of Contents

Here’s what you do.

  1. Make sure the General Channel is set to Only owners can post messages (General Channel > Manage Channel)
  2. Open a Word document and create a table (one column.) Then give names to the different places you want students to go inside of Teams in each row.
  3. Now you are going to go back to Teams and get links to each of the channels or files you want to direct students to. To get those links, click on the three dots next to an item and choose Get link to (it will say Channel or File depending.)
  4. Go back to Word, highlight the name of the place and then right click the highlight and choose Link from the list. Paste in your link.
  5. Rinse and repeat until finished.
  6. The last step is to copy and paste your table from Word into a new conversation inside of Teams.

Now when students go to the General channel they will see a table of contents and know exactly where to go.

Tool Bits Click Here - Teams

 

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