When I was teaching, one of my favorite tech tools was a digital discussion board called Padlet. I would throw up a quick warm-up question, exit ticket, or ask my students to respond to a lesson with questions and insights on Padlet, and we could see a beautiful display of everyone's responses in real time. I loved it! However, at some point in the least few years Padlet transitioned to a paid for product with no free version (except for a 30 day trial), and I was left to try and find another way to create a digital discussion board.
Now, I understand that businesses need to make money and can’t go around giving their products away for free all the time (except Google, I suppose). But, I’m sure Padlet also understands that many educators don’t have the funds for all the products they would like to use, and instead have to figure out alternatives.
That’s what brings me to today’s post: How to use Jamboard + sticky notes to create a digital discussion board (much like a ((simpler)) version of Padlet.)
To begin, if you are unfamiliar with Jamboard, consider jumping back to some of my earlier posts that describe what it is, and how to use it in the classroom. If you are all caught up on all that Jamboard goodness, you know that Jamboard is a collaborative whiteboard, but isn't just a physical product. Jamboard acts as a file type within GSuite (just like Google Docs, Slides, Forms etc.) This means you use it on any device, and better yet, you can easily make a copy of a Jamboard file in Google Drive, share it via email, or post it to Google Classroom.
You may also know, that one of the only features currently available on all versions of Jamboard are the sticky notes. Sticky notes come in different colors and allow the user to type into their own note within the Jam.
If you put the two together - 1. Create a shared Jamboard file to share with your students 2. Fill it with different sticky notes for each student - you get a collaborative discussion board.
Students can join the Jam via Google Classroom and have a designated sticky note space to type an answer, comment, or question. Then every student’s response an be easily (and brightly) displayed on one page.
You don't need a Jamboard Kiosk to view the responses with your class, you can project the Jam from your computer onto your overhead and watch your students respond to a prompt, all together, in real time. Then, since the Jamboard is interactive, you review the responses by moving, sorting, and annotating them using the easy drag-and-drop functionality of the Jam.
A Word of Caution
Now, this all probably sounds too good to be true, and it kind of is, because an important thing to note here is that just like any of Google’s other collaborative tools, once you share a Jam with your class they have full editing power, meaning they could write on any and every sticky note provided for the class (or do a number of other devious things on that file... I can only imagine).
When I tried this out a a recent training I delivered, I tried to prevent chaos by giving each attendee a real sticky note (made out of paper) with a number on it. That number corresponded to a digital sticky note and number I had already created on a Jam. All my participants had to do is find their number on the Jam, and use that sticky note.
With adults, it wasn’t an issue, but I could see how compliance could be much more difficult with kids, especially with young kids. Another option, would be to go through and turn those numbers into your students names. (My theory is it is easier to pretend you forgot your number than it is to forget your name.) You would only have to do this one time, and then use that Jam as your template and make copies of it in your Drive each time you wanted to do a new discussion board.
I’ve created two templates of my own sticky note slides that you are free to use and adapt by clicking the photos below (and then clicking “make a copy”). The first is a Jam that accommodates the max number of sticky notes per page, which means you can see the whole class at once, but the text will be small and harder to read.
The second breaks a class down into three slides of 15, which means you won’t be able to display the whole class at once, but the text is larger much easier to read.
Once you have the template saved in your Drive, you can make as many copies of it as you’d like, then create a prompt or question, and post it to your Google Classroom with the “allow students to edit” access setting.
Hopefully this provides you a fun way to have discussions, pose questions, do quick starters and exit tickets (and saves you some money to boot!)