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365 in the classroom

Watch a practical demonstration of how Microsoft’s future vision for EdTech is coming alive in the classroom, in the trust and school office. 

Lara Sorrell, Microsoft EdTech demonstrator

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Overview – 365 in the Classroom 

Find out how Microsoft 365 supports student learning in the classroom and reduces teacher workload, by using EdTech to create a more inclusive classroom with accelerated learning. 

Lara Sorrell, MicrosoftLara Sorrell

Microsoft Classroom Success Manager

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Before moving to Microsoft Lara was an enthusiastic inner city primary school teacher. Having previously worked in the tech sector, she developed a keen interest in using technology to support school life and move on learning. 

She is passionate about improving the use of tech in the classroom to support teacher workload, whilst personalising the learning experience for each child. This journey has been accelerated by the pandemic; she is focused on helping teachers holistically embed computing resources in the classroom. Watch this session to find out how. 

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Further reading and reference material

Microsoft Educator Center
Education Transformation Framework – Microsoft Education Journey
Education Transformation Assessment Tool
Digital Future Programme – Microsoft UK
Reading Coach for personalised practice in Microsoft Teams
Kahoot! | Reflect in Microsoft Teams
Lessons (

Next steps 

Scomis has a wealth of expertise in providing guidance, advice, and support to help you fully exploit the EdTech you have in your school. We can also help you adopt new technologies to deliver your strategy for teaching and learning.  

If you need any help or support with Microsoft 365, please do get in touch 

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ScomisLive is recognised by ISBL as Continued Professional Development (CPD)

Offering over 20 hours of appropriate learning content for School Business Leaders. ISBL members can register their attendance against their annual CPD commitment.


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Other related topics 

Explore how and why technology was being used before remote learning, how it’s changed, and look at some examples from Microsoft of how things might evolve in the coming years as we look towards a Hybrid Education future here.

The Cornerstone Academy Trust is recognised nationally and internationally as being at the forefront of EdTech for teaching and learning. Find out how they are harnessing technology to collaborate and develop a supportive learning environment here.


Session transcript 

TARA: Good afternoon, I’m Tara Benson and I’m delighted to welcome you to this session with Lara Sorrell from Microsoft. Following on from Jeramie Sutton’s lively keynote this morning, Lara is here to give us a practical demonstration of Microsoft’s future vision. This is all about how EdTech can best come alive in the classroom and in the trust and in the school office. Lara focuses on how 365 supports student learning in the classroom and on reducing teachers’ administrative workload creating a more inclusive classroom with great learning with education technology. Before moving to Microsoft, Lara was an enthusiastic inner city primary schoolteacher and before teaching, Lara worked in the tech sector. So it’s no surprise she developed a keen interest in using technology to support school life and move learning forward. She’s passionate about improving the use of tech in the classroom – yes, to support teacher workloads, and importantly to personalise the learning experience for each child. A really warm welcome to you, Lara.  

LARA: Thank you, Tanya. That was a lovely introduction, thank you. I’m really excited to be here and to speak. As Tanya said, I’m Lara and I’m classroom success manager at Microsoft. I’ll come back to what my job is but as mentioned, before moving to Microsoft, I was until September a primary schoolteacher and there are really three strands to this and how I became interested in tech. The first is that I had worked in the tech industry and within the tech industry I established a working knowledge of the Cloud and what Cloud solutions are and how I can access my work from my device anywhere I have an internet connection and this was something I really felt that I needed as a teacher. I really needed that autonomy over my work/life balance. I knew it would really support me, even if it just allowed me to leave school before the traffic started. So my commute was a half an hour shorter. I really knew that this was possible because I’d done it, I’d seen it and I really needed that to support me. The second part of this is that while working in an office I built a lot of skills. I built a lot of tech skills and this really meant that I could tailor my resources and my scaffolds to my learners and my lesson intentions, whereas you can find yourself in a position where you’re kind of trying to adapt the learning to the resources available, or the searching for the right resources takes a lot of time and I just found that it was better for progress within my classroom to meet them myself much of the time. Then finally, the final strand is that I am dyslexic, whether it be typing my homework when I was 10 so that it wasn’t a complete battle to get it done, or whether it be that I can no more read a sentence that I’ve written than I can become a fish in water, it’s not something I can do, and as I broke down my own learning needs and I used tech to support me, this reflection also helped me support the learners in my classroom and it really helped me support them and this is what I am absolutely passionate about. Accelerating that learning, helping students, and establishing an inclusive classroom. I am completely devoted to how tech can support this. I’m going to show you insights and data in Teams, so we will have a look at what there’s for you already and what we can drill into and reflect. Reflect is something – mental health and wellbeing is so close to my heart. You can’t teach unhappy learners. Really looking at what’s happening with them and then I’m going to show you assignments before moving on to accelerating learning in One Note and how One Note can become part of that feedback and assessment cycle. You can tailor your resources and your scaffolds. You can give feedback in the moment. And of course because I really like a little bit of the token economy and I really like getting a sticker! I really think it just builds enthusiasm. And then we will look at accessibility and how that can personalise the learning experience and support our children with barriers to learning and how some of those tools can be really embedded in the classroom to support an inclusive environment and then I’m going to show you the Microsoft Education Center and support for your own CPD and where you can find further information. If you saw Jeramie’s session earlier you would have seen that we believe in getting every child on the planet to learn more and the best way possible to do this is to support teachers to do what they do best, which is teach. So let’s move onto the demo and I’ll show you how some of this can work.  

OK, brilliant, so as I mentioned, my favourite place to start is always with how children with feeling and we have the fantastic new ‘reflect’ feature within Teams. This is really close to my heart. I was the mental health first aider. Wellbeing was what I did. Building those relationships and thinking about how they were as people. We’ve got our personal and social questions. We’ve got, “How are you feeling,” and “Friendships” and anyone who has been in a classroom knows how much friendships can impact the classroom and learning within the classroom. Then we’ve got a reflection question to support learning and how they feel about the day’s learning before moving onto goals and intentions. What I want to bring your attention to is the privacy. This is really important for those children to feel safe about sharing how they feel. Educators can see students’ names and reflections – classmates cannot. That’s not an option. Educators can see students’ names and reflections; classmates can see nothing. Which means that students can maybe see a vote against the face but no more.  

Then I really want to show you the feelings monsters. These are brilliant. Especially for those students – I taught quite a few students who come in, “What’s up, hon, are you OK”? And their face, they’re just angry, they’re cross, they can’t really explain how they feel, but it’s not nice. So this is really good for that, because they have the feelings monster and does that feelings monster show how you’re feeling? And that support is starting holistic conversations to really support wellbeing in class. I absolutely love the Reflect tool, it’s a fantastic starting point.  

Then I’m going to show you some of the data that gathers in Insights. So this is Reflect, and we can have a look at Reflect. We can have a look at this week, this month, previous months, and we can customise the range and we can see an overall view of how people are feeling, the votes, and what I really like is this day-to-day movement. You can have a look – why was Maria feeling disappointed on the 15th? What happened? What happened on the 15th? Was it something to do with work in class, did she struggle with an assessment? Well, today she’s feeling really fulfilled and determined, and we all know that sometimes it’s important, for various reasons, but within a classroom sometimes it’s important to be able to capture how children’s emotions are feeling – sorry, are changing. Then we’ve got at the top, who has attended meetings, who has been late to meetings. We’ve got what assignments are being completed and some schools, I know, even if they’re not using Teams in class they’re still using it for homework. This will summarise for you which students haven’t logged on, haven’t had a look and you can follow up. Who hasn’t viewed which assignments? And this is what I really like – it shows you which students may need more support really quickly for you. Then it shows you the ultimate task – I think I might have set my reading a little bit too challenging. It happens. Then we’ve got communication, student activity, status and our grades and what I really like is the new reading progress. This does something great for practice. It creates word clouds of the words your students find the most difficult, so you can practice them in the mornings, you can practice them in the afternoons, and it even creates a challenge assignment for you and those words are right there for you to practice, which I’m a big fan of.  

Let’s have a look at assignments. Before I go into creating an assignment, I just want to bring your attention to Quiz. This uses the technology that’s in Forms. At the moment, sometimes the standardised assessments aren’t really what you need because learning hasn’t been standardised – it hasn’t been what it has been previously. There hasn’t been the same coverage. We’ve been at home for a long time and I know that even before two lockdowns that sometimes I just needed a specific assessment to create, to know, did my children understand this part, can we move on? And if they don’t, that’s fine, but I just need to pinpoint my pain points with my own assessment so that I can scaffold that learning and that’s what Forms is really great for.  

Let me take you into Assignments. So we’re going to start in the middle for Assignments. We now have the full 365 version of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and we’ve got class notebook and we’ve got whiteboard, and we’ve got video recording. So anyone who had to do an assignment remotely, we know that no matter how accessible the language is children struggle with it a lot of the time. It’s just being that independent, it’s just that resilience they need to build and that’s fine. A video they always loved. Children love seeing you. You are their teacher, you are the one they know, they are just happy to see you. I remember one of my parents telling me that every day their son was just excited to see me online. You don’t have to bring that in by a third party anymore, that’s just there for you.  

Then we have our built-in apps which are lovely. I really enjoy these. I really enjoy Near Pod and this is something I want to pull your attention to because we’re coming up to Easter, which means we’re coming up to a term of new planning. So before you start your planning, check out Near Pod. It has got interactive resources, it has got games, it has got virtual activities, it has got slides. There’s a lot of resources in there. Please check it out before you start your next planning cycle. Then let’s move on to what you can attach. So you can bring up your documents you’ve already got. Your class notebook, I’m going to move on to that in a moment. Links. Make code is your traditional drag and drop for coding but you also have the JavaScript option for your older learners. There is a bank of resources for that and the lessons plans are there for that.  

Then we have reading progress. This is something – I think this is magical actually. So you could import a Word document or a PDF. You could use Office Lens to take a picture of the text you want read on your phone, upload it as a PDF and then children can read through it. I’m going to use the sample library. Polar Bear Grows Up. There are various levels in the sample library. You set the reading level. This is for schools with various reading levels. So you can limit the amount of attempts a child can take because we’ll all have learners who will try this until it’s absolutely perfect and won’t stop and also – well, I know a few of mine may not have come back if I’d given them unlimited attempts, they may have just kept on trying! Same with the time limit – unlimited time. Maybe I don’t want to do that. I do need them to come back at some point. So you can limit the time as well. There are great examples, though, of children working in groups, in cubbies, in library areas, sitting one-to-one at a teacher’s desk reading and really enjoying the experience. They can read with friends and they can share or, if you’re like me, and honestly group reading, I still – I left primary school so long ago and I still remember how much I hated it. You can have them sit down by themselves and read and do that assessment. You can toggle the video on and off, and that will register reading with facial expressions for you, which is brilliant. I just can’t wait, that’s such a nice assessment tool. So I’m going to show you how that looks.  

My ancient Greek reader did not hand in their work. Oh, she has viewed it. Done it. So now you can go into ‘take action’ and student view and hand in that work for you for the students who don’t hand in their work but have done it. Sometimes these things get forgotten. Right, I’m going to play – our learner does not look very impressed today.  

VIDEO: Do you know any stories from Greek mythology.  

LARA: So I know that there was a mistake on the word ‘know’ here but it hasn’t been highlighted. Now this is part of the AI. The AI in reading progress learns from when you start marking it. So you mark the word and it builds its knowledge of the reader over time. So if this was wrong, so I’m going to mark it as a mispronunciation, but also I corrected myself, and I need that in there, so edit checks, insert to the right, and I can type ‘know’ and then, oh, it’s not an insertion, it’s a self-correction. And I’m very impressed with my learner for being able to correct themselves. Then you can have a look through. So mythology, what did I do for mythology? Well, it’s blue so it’s saying I’ve repeated the word. Just so I can hear the sentence.  

VIDEO: Mythology, you may have…  

LARA: OK, so that’s my blending. I’ve broken down ‘mythology’ here, so I wouldn’t say that was a repetition, I would say that’s a self-correction. And so on, and so forth, and you can click on the words, you can hear them and it builds knowledge of the reader, so that it can mark more independently.  

Then when you return work, you can choose a full report as it looked, a simplified report, which will just have the highlighted words that the reader struggled with on. As I mentioned, reading coach is coming, so someone who has struggled with reading all their life cannot wait for something like Reading Coach, where it breaks down the word phonetically for the child to practice and this is great for interventions and supporting later thankers who struggle with reading. Cannot wait. So moving on, let me show you Notebook. So Notebook is really interesting because at the moment in schools everyone is in different places with devices. Some people have enough devices for a year group, a phase, some just the class and this will be the outcome of what people needed. So some people are moving towards paperless solutions. One of our schools moved towards a paperless solution and saved the equivalent of five-sixth in paper. All that toner, ink and paper and also all that time in the printing queue. So let’s start with insert. Now I’m going to apologise in advance to anyone who gets as upset as I did when I discovered this tool because it’s my favourite but there was part of me that was genuinely upset when I discovered this and I felt quite hurt that I didn’t know it was there and all that time I had spent copying and pasting. If I want to look for a dog, it’s there for me, I click it and then I can insert it straight on the page, no copy and paste. I also really love the inclusion of this, because who gets questions out of the blue, “Miss, what does a black dog look like, huh”? A black dog? And they can’t remember, something that is happened, and you know you want to show them but I always feel a bit apprehensive when I have to come out of my lesson to use the internet browser and you don’t know what distractions this is going to cause for 7-year-olds. You just don’t know and you also have to make sure that your emails weren’t the last thing you had open. So I can just type in, “Black dog” and create that visual for them without any distractions at all. I really do enjoy that.  

Then we’ve got insert file printout. So we’ve got insert PDF. This is really good as a paperless solution. The children – those things need to be practiced. For instance, handwriting. Children who have to practice – some children do need to practice the same thing over and over again. Those fine motor skills. And this just saves on those resources needing to be printed out. If you are going paperless and you want to build a bank of resources and you insert those PDFs with a different title down here, you can put them all in the content library, and I was always someone who believed in having resources on the table. Your resources are there, I’ve taught you what they are. You know how to use them; they just need to be accessible. This is really great for that and it saves you from having to laminate as well.  

Then we’ve got audio. So there are two parts to audio I really like. You can record feedback for people’s work and you can also record instructions. I saw a teacher doing this and I was amazed. She was teaching modelling and she was using Draw to model and then recording her instructions so the children could listen to her and they could refer back to her explanation in the lesson when they forgot. So they could work completely independently, and I was amazed. I am a big believer in teaching children to be independent and I just thought that was one of the best things I’ve seen. I really loved watching her teach.  

Then we’ve got Maths and we’ve got Forms. So I will show you one way they can work absolutely beautifully together in a second. Then we’ve got our fun stickers, our monster stickers and then we’ve got our social and emotional learning stickers. They help children focus on what they know and their key values and add something to our token economy.  

Then we’ve got Maths. So Maths is a really interesting intervention tool. This can help with homework for extra explanations. This can help with a maths intervention, but what it can also help with is when you’ve got a topic that’s a bit of a struggle for 25 of your 30 children, but you’ve got five children who have done absolutely everything. You need to give them something, but you and your TA are looking at each other like, “Oh-oh”. So this is really good for creating extra resources because I can highlight it and you can – your handwriting does not need to be perfect – click on it, and OK, I don’t really want my children to be told the answer, that’s not great, but what it actually does is it solves it, it gives you an explanation, but can they then apply it independently? Well, you can generate a practice quiz for them and they can work it out. It builds independence and allows them to do that by themselves and you can pick how many questions you want. So if I want five. They can see, can they apply their learning independently, can they find the missing number, reverse the number – it’s never too early to introduce algebra. I remember my year fives asking me, “Miss, it’s so difficult””, and I showed them what it was and they were like, OK, it’s just a missing number, it was a beautiful moment. And they work well together. So you can turn on and off maths, so if you set their work and don’t want them using maths, you can turn it off.  

We’ve got draw which is our pens so if we want to keep all our modelling and resources together and then we’ve got Class Notebook. So as I mentioned you can go into someone’s work and give them feedback without having to sit next to them which is a brilliant tool for building independence. You don’t necessarily have to look over at them, you just know how they’re getting on and you can add to their work. But also at the moment, I know there’s still high absences and you can distribute a page or a section to specific children and this also helps with differentiating work without everyone knowing how the work had been differentiated or where it has been differentiated. View is our accessibility tools. We’ve got live captions here and for the rest of accessibility, I’m going to move into Word, because they’ve got a very specific tool in Word which I like for building resources for teachers. That is Designer.  

So engagement is just about how pretty something looks, sometimes, and I don’t always have time to think about how pretty something looks and that’s where Designer comes in. You can pick how you want it to look and it will change it for you. Just to look a little bit prettier, really, just to build up that extra engagement and then you’ve got – you’re inserting pictures for building resources and you can insert videos.  

Then we’ve got Dictate for our students who may struggle to write, want to take notes, and I’m going to show you another way to use Dictate in a moment after I show you Immersive Reader, for a very specific reason.  

We’ve got – so Immersive Reader opens our text and it reads it to us.  

>> The Three Little Pigs story. Once upon a time there was an old sow who…  

LARA: And I can change my settings as to how fast or slow it reads. First time I heard her speak to me I did jump because she sounds more and more life-like every time. Then we’ve got – and Immersive Reader is a lovely tool for inclusion. I can click on my words and I’ve got my picture dictionary which comes up. What’s sow? Oh, a female pig! And we can change the text and the advertise, increase the spaces for you, we can change the text, the tip we all know, change the background colour, and then we’ve got our grammar options. Now, or grammar options I really like not just for reading but I like for an English warm-up and revisiting that learning.  

OK, what are your nouns? What are your verbs? Where are the adjectives and where are the adverbs? And show label, always great for heading back to learning when you’re showing a text. I really like those. Then we can turn our syllables on and off. This is great for our sight readers. Then we can change our line focus, how much do we want them to be able to see? We can translate into, say, Arabic – I have a lot of Arabic learners so I can translate by word, you can hear it. Or I can translate the whole document.  

People also use this for teaching a foreign language, for teaching second languages this is also fantastic. You can translate it into the language you want.  

Now, I am a chatterbox, I don’t know if you’ve noticed! But I had to read to my class three times a day near enough. One day, that’s tough on top of all the other teaching, but by Friday my voice was gone. This is really good for that. Take your text in Word, put it up on the board, even if you want them to focus on the text while you work with a focus group, this does really help their reading, even if they’re just listening to it and watching the words, highlighting and reinforcing that language. One of mine turned around to me – he really struggled with learning, he had barriers, and I said – I can’t remember what the word was now but I said, how did you know that word? I was like, how did you know? I was incredibly impressed with him and he said, “Miss, you read it to me”. He was a sight reader and this was part of the struggle and so that’s really fantastically inclusive for those readers.  

OK, then we’ve got translate here as well. So you can translate your whole document. This is really great for comms with parents. You can translate documents that you’re handing out. What I really like and what I was discussing with someone the other day is that you can use Dictate and Immersive Reader together. Teaching editing, to me, I always found particularly painful. I remember teaching editing to a class and my headteacher came in and said, “Don’t worry, Miss, it’s always hard”, and she brought me back biscuits, she was lovely. But I always found teaching children to edit work especially tough. So Dictate and Immersive Reader allow you to have the child tell their story, their piece of writing, they can read it into Dictate, Dictate will record it for them and then they can use the Immersive Reader to listen to it back and then they can hear themselves – if it doesn’t make sense, they can make their own edits. They really enjoy that. Hopefully that will really help with marking.  

All right, and finally, I’m just going to show you our Microsoft Education Center which is now in Learn and that’s broken down by products, by topic, and then when you open this up, you will find videos, guides, and modules you can do to support using those tools. We also have our MIEE community, our Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts, and they help one another. It’s a wonderful community. You only have to do two hours. The nature of teaching is if you learn a skill you want to share it with everyone else, because you know it’s going to help. So when I saw this I thought more people should know about this because it’s in your nature as a teacher to help other people. So you do your two hours and apply and tell people what you’ve done to help others and you join the community where there are even more people helping each other – it’s great. So I’m a big fan Learn, Microsoft Education and the MIEE, I think they are a wonderful community.  

Let’s go back and I can show you whichever resources we’ve got for you. As mentioned, I’m Lara, that’s my email below for anything you may want to ask me after the session, anything that comes to you. Then this is the bank of resources and the SCOMIS team are going to send this out afterwards and they will attach them to my session. You’ve got the Microsoft Education Center, you’ve got the Microsoft Transformation Framework.  Digital transformation can sound daunting and I know Jeramie spoke about it earlier and this will really break it down for you into sizeable chunks and we also have the assessment tool to support this. Everyone is somewhere after the last few years and this will tell you where you’re doing really well and it will tell you your points to improve on as well. We also have our Explore Your Digital Future programme. This has lesson plans, lesson resources. Have a look in there, that’s brilliant. And then obviously I couldn’t show you Reading Coach today, which I’m really disappointed about, but there is some more information on Reading Coach and it coming to Teams. Oh and Kahoot, this is a Kahoot game to support Reflect, it’s a great game, so how are we feeling, and it’s really great and engaging, it is our feelings monsters, I think it’s great. And as promised there’s our lessons plans to help teach code. Thank you very much for listening to me. I hope you found the demo really useful.  

TARA: Lara, that was really fantastic, I loved how you weaved your personal experience and challenges into your work. Yeah, so mental health is so important and it’s great to see you demonstrate and so cool to see how you weave your personal experience and your deep professional knowledge of teaching. It really comes through and I suppose that authenticity, that being your whole self, is so vital to good mental health, so all of that came across so very clearly. All of your passions, so thank you so much. We do have a couple of questions, actually. So can teachers pre-plan their lessons in advance of running live classes?  

LARA: Yes, they can. So two things I would recommend is that you can use One Note to store all your resources together which is what I really like it for because you can keep your PDFs and files and you can use Teams to schedule your assignments. In Teams you can schedule when the assignments will come out and I found that a huge saver during lockdown and so you would just release the work when you wanted it to go. So you could put it all there on a Monday evening and time it to go when you want the lessons to be.  

TARA: OK, that’s good to know. So there’s a question about Accelerated Reader. Is that available to all schools or is that just primaries?  

LARA: Everyone and I was actually having a conversation with a college about using it because it will – and I practiced it with higher level words, challenging vocabulary, and I know that a lot of colleges are using it to support them because if you have a barrier to reading as a child you’re going to have a barrier to reading as a young adult as well so this is supportive of everyone.  

TARA: That’s great, thank you. And there’s one more here. At the moment – sorry, I don’t know who this is, it has come in as anonymous. At the moment, we’re just using the Microsoft Office apps and email. Where can they find out about the other apps? I suppose you’ve just gone through it with your end slide – are those the best resources?  

LARA: They are the best resources to go to. I would 100% say go to the Microsoft Educator Centre because that will give you so much more information about what’s available and there is just so much there.  

TARA: OK, that’s fantastic and as you said in your session, we’re definitely going to share all of those resources and that will be in a couple of weeks’ time when we’ve prepared all the web pages coming out of SCOMIS Live. So, Lara, thanks again – really wonderful, clear and educative session, thank you.  

LARA: Glad you enjoyed it, thank you for having me.  

TARA: If you need help or support with Microsoft 365, please do get in touch with us either today via the Genius Bar or after the conference on our website, We’ve got a wealth of experience providing guidance and advice and support to help you fully exploit the EdTech you have in your school and we can also help you adopt and adapt to new technologies to deliver your teaching and learning strategies. So there’s some time now to pop over to the wellbeing bar. Let us know if you’re grabbing a cup of tea or doing something creative there. People have found the wellbeing bar really joyful. I hope you do too. And then join us after the break for the final sessions of the conference. Again, we have three to choose between. You can hear David James and Anthony Lees from Cornerstone Academy Trust. David and Anthony are going to be talking about how they are harnessing technology to collaborate across their trust and develop their really support learning environment. Or you can listen to Iain Randall from St Christopher’s Trust and he is here to talk about how his MAT has achieved a consistent approach to assessment across all schools and the huge benefits experienced as a result. Or you can join Elizabeth Anderson from the Learning Foundation and Digital Poverty Alliance. Elizabeth will explore what is meant by digital inclusivity and digital poverty and why there is still an issue. Most importantly, Elizabeth is here to show us how to find the tools and support to boost digital inclusivity in schools. All three of those are at 3:30. See you back after the break.