Back to School with Microsoft Tools

Back to School with Microsoft Tools

Virtual | August 31, 2021

Ready to make this the year your Microsoft school levels up and utilizes everything Microsoft EDU has to offer? Then get ready for a one-day summit that’ll open your eyes to Microsoft EDU’s renewed potential!

Join Mike Tholfsen and extraordinary Microsoft trainers Heather Wenzler, Lisa Schwartz, Ana Moreno, and Nelann Taylor as they cover everything new from Microsoft EDU for the 2021-2022 school year. Along the way, you’ll be able to participate in live demonstrations of new tools and apps as well as ask questions to some of Illinois’ brightest Microsoft educators.

Get energized! Get inspired! This is going to be a great year for your Microsoft school and it all starts here!

When and Where

Date: August 31, 2021
Location: Online
Cost: Free!
PD Hours: 5

Who Should Attend?

This virtual event is geared toward any and all educators working for or with a Microsoft school, regardless of skill level. Educators whose institutions only utilize a couple Microsoft apps are also welcome to attend and grow their understanding of their preferred tools.


Please contact Colleen Kaplan at with questions.

Detailed Schedule

Tuesday, August 31

What’s New in EDU

9:00-9:50 AM – Presented by Mike Tholfsen

Find out about the latest updates from Microsoft Education, just in time for the new school year.  This includes Teams for EDU, fresh social emotional learning resources, inclusive and accessible technology, and the new reading fluency app “Reading Progress”.

Teams Updates for Back to School 

10:00-10:50 AM – Presented by Heather Wenzler

Microsoft Teams has a bunch of new updates rolling out to institutional users in the coming months – just in time for the start of the new school year. Come learn about these updates and see a few in action while I break down how these improvements can be utilized in your existing digital learning environment.

Everyone Can Code with Microsoft MakeCode

11:00-11:50 AM – Presented by Lisa Schwartz

Interested in learning more about coding and how it can be efficiently taught in the classroom? Hop into this session where you’ll learn about Microsoft MakeCode, a top resource for making coding accessible to students of all skill levels. You’ll also walk away from this session with curricular resources that can help your classroom start coding in no time flat.

Gamifying your Classroom with Office 365

12:00-12:50 PM – Presented by Ana Moreno

Take an in-depth look at games, gaming culture, and game design to identify the characteristics of gameplay that make it such a powerful tool for closing the learning gaps. But don’t stop there! Make the most of gamifying’s potential in your classroom by utilizing special features built into your current Office 365 suite.

Office 365 – I Didn’t Know They Did That! (Collaboration with PPT, Word, and Excel)

1:00-1:50 PM – Presented by Nelann Taylor

By now, we’re all fairly proficient at using the core Office 365 programs in the classroom. But as it turns out, these familiar programs can do so much more and I’m excited to show you what I’ve learned through experimentation. Join this session to see some of my discoveries first-hand while I outline how I implemented these special features in a world language classroom.

Closing Remarks

1:50-2:00 PM – Presented by Colleen Kaplan

Closing remarks and partings from the LTC’s Colleen Kaplan

Event Speakers and Presenters

Get to know the speakers and presenters sharing their knowledge and insights at this one-of-a-kind event!

Mike Tholfsen

Mike Tholfsen is a Principal Product Manager on the Microsoft Education team focusing on the Immersive Reader, Reading Progress in Teams, and OneNote Class Notebooks.  He is passionate about inclusive education and has been regularly working with students and teachers around the world over the past ten years to create products that improve student outcomes.

Dr. Heather Wenzler

Dr. Heather Wenzler is an educator and trainer with specialties in K-12 education, curriculum and instruction, gifted education, and educational technology. Since 2005, she has worked diligently in teaching research-based strategies to K-12 students, educators, and adult learners with a focus on the integration of technology. She has dedicated 18 years to both public schools and charter schools in the Bay Area of California. She has also served as a teacher of the gifted, teacher-leader, professional development provider, and classroom researcher.

Currently, she works as a Microsoft Learning Consultant (MLC), supporting school districts, higher education, and healthcare institutions across the country. In this role, she raises awareness and heighten desire for Microsoft’s education offerings. She also executes hands-on training experiences for educators, administrators, clerical staff and contributes significantly to projects and success plans highlighting the benefits of Microsoft EDU tools.

Lisa Schwartz

Lisa Schwartz is the Regional Educational Technology Coordinator in west central Illinois for the Learning Technology Center (LTC). Prior to joining the LTC, she was an educator in Quincy Public Schools. Lisa is passionate about meaningful professional development and creating teacher and student leaders. She facilitates professional learning events regionally and statewide; provides consultation and support to school districts related to digital learning and technology integration; and develops instructional materials for school administrators, teachers, and students throughout the region and the state.

Ana Moreno

Ana Moreno currently serves as an Instructional Technology Specialist with the Kennesaw State University iTeach program.

Nelann Taylor

A 2020-21 MIE Fellow (Cohort 7) and MIE Expert, Nelann Taylor works as a Spanish Teacher and Technology Lead at West St. John High School in St. John the Baptist Parish Schools, Louisiana.