Since we left off part way through showing all the features of assignments in Microsoft Teams, it makes sense to pick up with the Save Draft/Assign Now options.
When you are creating an assignment, you have three options in the top right corner- Discard, Save and Assign. You can always Discard or save your progress as a draft at any point. Assign becomes available after you have added certain minimum features to the assignment. If you don’t have time to finish creating an assignment, you can save it and find it again under Drafts. Kind of like the previous article, where I started writing about Assignments in Teams!
Microsoft Teams assignments allow you to either assign points and grade traditionally, or add a rubric.
Rubrics can be reused in another assignment even if they are in Teams. Add as many columns for criteria as you need, and add as many rows as you need for categories of grading criteria. Rubrics are completely customizable. You can even weigh criteria differently.
When you add a rubric to an assignment, grading is simple. The rubric pops up next to the student work and you simply click in one box in each row. Teams does the math for you to calculate the grade.
Assignment for New Students
Teams assignments have some defaults to keep teachers’ lives simple, but are robust enough to let you change those settings. Most of the time it makes sense that you don’t want new students added to your class to be assigned all the work from before they joined. But you can toggle that on and off for specific assignments, like at the beginning of a marking period or semester when you are likely to have more class changes in a short period of time. And, you can edit those assignments, say after 2 weeks, to turn that feature off, giving teachers full control.
Hard (and soft) Due Dates
One of the things I hear teachers in my district complain about in Google Classroom is how you can set a due date, but students can still turn in work after that. You can see when things are submitted, but you can’t prevent it.
Microsoft Teams has two different dates for assignments- Due dates and Close dates. The Due date is a “soft” deadline, like in GC. But the Close date is a hard deadline. The assignment cannot be turned in after this date. That means you can pre-determine a grace period after your advertised due date.
This is also where you can choose which date and time you want the assignment to be posted to the class, in case you are planning ahead. This keeps all three calendars conveniently located together.
Choose your Channel
This feature allows you to choose which channel this announcement will be posted in. The teacher still must always create assignments in the General Channel (Or in the side rail) and the Assignments tab will still appear in the General Channel for students to see ALL of their assignments. But you can choose where to post the announcement. If you aren’t familiar with the structure of Teams, you might not grasp the significance of this. Each Team is built with channels. The content and conversation, files and workflow take place in these channels. In a class team, I like to set up a new channel for every new unit. Channels keep all the files, conversations, assignments, tabs and apps related to a topic, like a unit of study, threaded together.
Now teachers have even more ways to set up assignments exactly how you want- without having to even click to change things like which channel to post assignments to! Under the Assignments tab, select the ellipses and click on Assignments Settings.
Here you can change the defaults for what time assignments are due, whether new students will receive assignments created before they join the class, which channel assignments are posted to, and whether or not students will see animated celebrations when they submit an assignment.
All of these can be changed at any time, so for example when you finish Unit 2, you can change the default location for posting assignments from Unit 2 to Unit 3.
Assignment Tab in the Me Space
Teams has recently restored the full functionality of the Teams tab in the “Me space”- the side-rail on the far-left side in Teams. Teachers can now create and open assignments to grade from here, and it provides access to all assignments, not just those in a certain Team. That means you don’t have to navigate into and out of individual class teams to do your grading. This is also convenient form students, who can see all of their assignments across all of their classes on this side-rail.
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All the Microsoft Tools You Need to Transform Your Classroom: 75 Ideas for using Microsoft Office 365 for Education available on amazon in both Kindle and paperback.