Inspired by an enthusiastic coworker who’s been using Jamboard to teach virtually, I recently tried and jammed out on some Jamboard templates in the classroom. The reason I put off using Jamboard for so long is because I thought Jamboards were too similar to Padlet which I’ve used for years, and too difficult for my Microsoft students to cross over on a Google classroom account.
I was wrong and have been missing out! Though Jamboard is similar to Padlet, you get unlimited FREE boards while gaining more functions. As far as accounts go, students DO NOT need a Jamboard login or an account to use Jamboard! YAYAYAYA *Plays Space Jam sound track and dances around an empty classroom. All you need to use Jamboard as a teacher is a personal or professional Google account (I’ll give a quick tutorial for teachers at the end of this post!).
Therefore, I’m now about to do that annoying thing where I rave about something that is old news to everyone else because this blog post is going to have my recent Jamboard obsession on BLAST. I’m going to show you all the creative ways I’ve used Jamboard in my virtual and hybrid ELA classroom so whether you are an advanced Jamboard user or the last one to know about this amazing EDU tech tool, I hope you’ll have plenty of takeaways from these Jamboard ideas!
Key things to know about Jamboard:
- What is Jamboard? Jamboard is a free Google app that allows you to create a digital whiteboard and invite others to collaborate on it.
- If you are not 1:1, there is a Jamboard app that you may choose to allow students to use on their phones.
- Jamboard templates go in as an image under “set background”
- If you want student names associated with answers, they must add their name to their sticky.
- Jamboard for collaboration works best with 25 students or less. From what I’ve read, it has issues with more than that. To fix this, create two Jamboards per class.
- Most of the Jamboard ideas I’m about to show you are color-coded. If you have a colorblind student, number off the colors for a guide.
- You must set your Jamboards to allow EDITING for students to be able to add sticky notes (see tutorial).
- You must set expectations for the Jamboard because when you allow editing, well, they will edit it. Students may mark on the board, change the sticky notes of other students, delete sticky notes, etc. A few tricks to combat this: set expectations, be on the board with them, tell them it tracks edits, switch off of edit mode as soon as the lesson is finished so that students can still see it but not edit it.
- You can make your own Jamboard templates in PowerPoint or Google Slides, or you can download the ones I show you here: ELA Jamboard Templates
- If you would like to test out a couple of FREE Jamboard templates before committing, you can get those here!
Relationship Building Jamboard Templates:
My very first day back with students this semester was the day after the attack on the US Capitol. Since we are on a block schedule, I had all new students that I had never met before and was feeling extremely anxious (even more so than normal first days!). Knowing that I didn’t want to ignore what had just happened or put on an inauthentic first-day face, I quickly made a simple Jamboard template to let students process the event before we moved on.
This only took a few minutes, but it set the tone for this class, provided a safe place to talk (I told them to keep their sticky notes anonymous), and gave me some insight into how they are handling this moment in history.
Other ways to use Jamboard to build relationships include:
Would you rather grabbers – To pique students’ interest before reading while also keeping it personal, think of a “would you rather” question that relates to the text. For example, before reading Of Mice and Men, you might ask: Would you rather have a big dream but never accomplish it or never allow yourself to dream at all?
Four corner replication on Jambaord– Teachers love using the four corner strategy in the classroom because it creates both movement and engagement. However, when that’s not possible or when you want to provide a board to record answers, Jamboard is where it’s at! For example, suppose you are going to play one of my Valentine’s Day podcast recommendations (wink, wink), you could hook students with something like this that would not only get them interested but also build community. Students would simply place their sticky notes over the dog they most relate with and explain why. I would make this one an anonymous Jamboard activity which is one pro over the traditional classroom strategy!
Group Work Jamboard Templates:
I recently presented (on Zoom) to a group of teachers in New Jersey about using podcasts in the classroom, and when it was over, they were like that’s cool but let’s talk about those Jamboard templates you used haha. Kidding, they were really into my podcast ideas, but were also impressed by my Jamboard activities for collaboration! 😊
A big pro over Padlet is that Jamboard will allow you to have multiple sides going at the same time. This means you can have one group of students working on one slide of the SAME Jamboard while others are on their own assigned slide. This is GAME CHANGER for facilitating collaborations in a virtual or Covid classroom setting.
For my presentation, I put teachers into breakout rooms and told them which slide they should focus on. Breakout room one worked on slide 1 etc. HOWEVER, this was a semi-fail because of this Jamboard con: links are not clickable in a Jamboard (if you know a workaround, please fill me in!), therefore, it took much longer than needed for such a simple task (read an article and find 3 key points), but I reflected and somewhat solved this before recommending it to the masses.
Here’s the solution:
Tell students exactly what to Google and what their article should look like (get image by using a snipping tool then control v to paste into the Jamboard)
OR, get the links to them via the chat feature on Zoom.
OR, have the links posted in Canvas or whatever LMS you use.
Now, once students read the article or section you want them to read, they will use a color-coded sticky note to write down their thoughts. There are 5 sticky note colors in Jamboard, so you can have up to 5 groups.
After that, you can put students into multi- colored groups to replicate the classic jigsaw reading strategy where they report to others.
Here is a funny way to group students:
Reading Response Jamboard Templates:
There’s absolutely nothing worse than prompting for reading responses to black squares or masked silent faces, am I right?
Jamboard is my edu hero for non-awkward student engagement and interaction during Covid.
Speaking of heroes, here’s a Jamboard example.
When I teach Beowulf, I use the acronym E.P.I.C. to help students define what the Anglo-Saxons valued in a hero. E- Embodies the values of the time, P- Possesses supernatural traits, etc. Next, I have them connect this to the real world by discussing what we value in a hero today. Well this year, the “discuss” aspect bombed until I jumped on the Jamboard chariot.
Here you can see how full their EPIC discussion turned out:
Since Jamboard is a digital whiteboard, there are unlimited ways to use it. Here are some more Jamboard template ideas:
Color-coded annotations: If you use reading signposts, you can assign each one a color (the fiction set has six, so you’ll need to use the “no color” sticky note option). When students close read a passage or do their reading response, they can use the sticky notes in the Jamboard template to show what they know.
Otherwise, you can make your own color key and for a colorful commentary session!
Virtual Discussion Jamboard Templates:
I’m hearing from teachers that classroom discussions are one of the things they miss the most during this challenging teaching year. I’ve found that if I prompt in the right way and give students lots of thinking time, they are more apt to participate in a virtual or masked setting. With Jamboard, students already “put themselves out there” on the app so it’s easier for them to speak up and elaborate with their voices when the time comes. Here are some Jamboard discussion templates:
Check for Understanding Jamboard Templates:
If you are looking for a quick way to check for understanding or give a digital exit ticket, a Jamboard can do it! It can be as simple as asking students to post one thing they learned in a “what stuck with you” digital sticky note, or a little more advanced with Jamboard templates like the target one below where you place your target standard in the middle and have students use stickies to show what they know. You as the teacher can move the stickies around to show which responses best hit the target.
You can also use Jamboard templates for test prep (don’t even get me started on the fact that some states including my own are still drilling state testing this year). Here are a couple of ideas:
Abstract Thinking Jamboards Templates:
Creative thinking is a skill that I value and practice daily in the classroom. Because of their blank slate nature, Jamboards make the perfect tool for generating abstract thinking. Here are some Jamboard ideas:
The “no wrong answer” template helps students think outside the box. For example, if you are reading Lord of the Flies, you can put Ralph, Piggy, Simon, and Jack on the Jamboard. Students would then articulate who doesn’t belong based on their thinking.
The book bar graph is a fun way of thinking that I’ve used with teaching The Great Gatsby and Animal Farm. You can find detailed examples by reading those posts, but essentially, you can use the bar graph method to track anything from color symbolism to propaganda techniques to author’s craft.
Writing Jamboard Templates:
When it comes to teaching writing, I’ve always found that a little friendly, yet not embarrassing competition yields better writing. One of the perks of using Jamboard in the classroom is that you can choose to make the stickies named or anonymous (just make sure to tell them each time!) Similar to the target idea above, you can have students write a thesis statement and you as the teacher can drag the stickies over to the award. The ones on the award serve as mentor thesis statements for the ones around the edges that need revision. You can also model this revision right there on the Jamboard as a teaching tool.
Brainstorming Jamboard Templates
Much of the time when you ask students to brainstorm, they will write down two or three things and call it day. However, I’ve found that when I give them a fun brainstorming goal, they fire off more ideas. For example, simply using the alphabet can spark brainstorming answers they may have never thought of! Or, like in my latest creative Jamboard idea, I have them finish a pixel picture using stickies in specific colors. They work to fill the board up so that the image is revealed (see the flower pixel picture above). It’s a little cheesy, but there’s just something in our brains that likes to see things finished. 🙂 I have added 5 pixel images to my Jamboard pack!
I hope that this post has inspired you as my coworker did me to try Jamboard in the classroom. I’ve provided lots of Jamboard ideas, but if you need a Jamboard tutorial for teachers that gets into the HOW, then this short video will help!