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The Jamboard Series Part II: Ten Ways to Use Jamboard in your Classroom

If you are asking yourself, what is a Jamboard? Hold your horses. My first post in the series will explain what it is and how it works.

If you are still reading, you probably agree that while a Jamboard looks incredibly fun and useful to have as a teacher during lectures and presentations, the real magic of the tool lies in its collaborative functions.

The goal for your classroom/school Jamboard should be to get it into the hands of your students, for them to use as a brainstorming and collaboration tool, and to help them break free from the boundaries of the classroom and school building in order to create connections elsewhere.

But before I get too far ahead of myself... Let's start at the center (with the teacher) and move outward (to infinity and beyond).

10 Ways to Use Jamboard in the Classroom

For Lectures and Presentations

1. Presenting Slides

As Jamboard allows you to add files from your Drive, teachers are able to pull a slide presentation from Drive onto the Jamboard and interact with each slide as they present.

That might mean writing additional notes, adding images, or using the “magic” highlighter tool (that makes a temporary highlight on the board and then fades away.)

The best part about using Jamboard for slide presentations, is that you can save them and share them with your class, or pick back up where you left off the next day.

Additionally, you can assign a copy of the Jam, or a specific board within the jam, for students to annotate after the presentation is done.

2. Problem Solving

This would be particularly beneficial for math teachers who like to demonstrate how to work through a problem on the board. The Jamboard even has an option to turn the background into a grid. Plus, shape recognition, which makes it easy to draw perfect geometric shapes.

Teachers can save all these demonstrations of how to work through problems,

and give students access to view them.

Additionally, for math teachers with access to 1-1 devices (or BYOD) you can create a separate board (like a slide) for each student within the same “Jam.” Each student can manually work through the problem on their own board, while you monitor all the boards on your device to check for understanding.

Afterwards, you can easily pull up any of the students' work on the main board and use it as an example for the class.

3. Live Note Taking Demonstration

Let's get a little more creative...

If you have a Jamboard in addition to your traditional whiteboard/projector setup. You could set the Jamboard up *slightly off to one side of your presentation, and ask a volunteer student to demonstrate taking notes while you give a lecture. Sketchnoting, would be particularly effective in this context, as the student would be able to add images and use the autodraw function to add visual notes. Afterward, those notes could be shared with the entire class.

I would make this into a rotating role, and everyone in the class could take a turn at being the “note taker” for the day.

*You could also set the Jamboard up out of view of the rest of the class if the note taker is in danger of becoming a distraction during the lesson and unveil their notes at the end as a review.

For Individual Work

4. Mind Mapping or Sketchnoting

As I mentioned above, the Jamboard would be an excellent tool for any type of visual note taking.

If your students have access to 1-1 touch-screen devices (tablets, smart phones, or some Chromebooks), you could ask them to Sketchnote or Mindmap a chapter you read, a podcast played for the class, a film you are all watching, or a presentation.

For Group Work and Collaboration

5. ‘Graffiti Walls” for Pre/Post Assessment

Graffiti walls are one of my favorite ways to gage student understanding on a general level.

Essentially, the graffiti wall in a blank canvas for words and pictures on a given topic. You might ask students, “Show me everything you know about photosynthesis,” and set them free to write, draw, and respond.

Graffiti walls can easily be done on a whiteboard or poster, but the benefit of the Jamboard is that not only will you be able to save the graffiti walls and share them with the class later. You can also use them for a next-day or post-unit discussion, making notes on, or editing the original wall as you go.

6. Interactive Timelines

Timelines are an excellent tool for summary and review. The Jamboard improves this classic activity in a couple ways. First, the easy integration of images will help students easily create visually memorable timelines.

Even better, the integration of Docs could turn the timeline into a collaborative, multi-part project.

Perhaps you assign each student in the group one event from the timeline, and ask them to research it and write a paragraph about it in a Google Doc. Then, when the group comes together on their Jamboard, they are asked to add their Docs to the jam, and discuss how to order them on the timeline adding images to accompany each paragraph.

7. Infographics, Posters, and Visual Annotations

By now you probably see how easy it is to collaboratively create large graphic documents by adding and creating shapes and images. The Jamboard is perfect for creating posters and infographics to demonstrate understanding of a topic*.

Additionally, by inserting a paragraph of text onto a blank jam as an image, you could ask your students to annotate the text in groups using Jamboard's "sticky notes", underlining and highlighting, and inserting corresponding images.

*I should mention that I think Google Draw would be an equally good tool for this.

For Connections Beyond the Classroom

8. Collaborate on Interdisciplinary Projects Within your School.

Cross-curricular projects are becoming more and more common, with good reason. After all, it is rare that we only use one isolated skill at a time in the working world.

Imagine your grade level is working on an interdisciplinary project, let's say creating historical documentaries, and your school had two Jamboards; one is in your English class and one is in the history class on the other side of the building. Using the Google Hangout integration on Jamboard, your English class could easily video conference with the history class to discuss elements of the project, and brainstorm on the same jam, despite being in different rooms.

9. Work on a project with another school

The same logic can be applied to several different scenarios, but one of the most appealing to me is to connect with schools in other parts of the world or country.

“Mystery Skype” or “Mystery Hangouts” have become increasingly popular, especially in elementary classrooms. If you are unfamiliar, this is where you video call with a class somewhere else in the country or world, and ask each other 'yes' or 'no' questions about your locations, until each class can guess where the other is located.

Jamboard is an amazing addition to this activity, as the students are able to share text and images with each other while simultaneously video calling. You could even display a shared map on the board and have students circle the locations they are guessing.

For older students, having a class discussion, brainstorming, or even working on a project with a class in another part of the world is possible with Jamboard.

10. Work with experts or mentors within the community

In addition to connecting with other students, experts and members of the community have more access to the classroom, and can share ideas and collaborate with students virtually using the Jamboard.

For example, imagine you ask your students to create a product and write a "Shark Tank" type sales pitch. Using the Jamboard to video conference, you could invite local business owners to watch your students deliver or practice their pitch, and even give them live notes and feedback on the board.

As you can see, I'm excited about the Jamboard, and although I am getting paid to demonstrate how to use one at Bett this year, I am certainly not being paid to write this post or to sell them.

Jamboards are expensive, and the sad reality is the cost will be prohibitive for most schools.

But for those with the access, Jamboard could be far more than a white board. It could be an invitation to break free from the traditional boundaries of the classroom, to create, and to collaborate.

*Keep in mind, while the board itself is quite expensive. The software can be accessed on any device, and used with any touch screen. I do not recommend using Jamboard on a non-touch screen computer or device.

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