This post shares our experiences with using Jamboard for group work!
There was an assignment. It consisted of just a few problems and students were working in small groups for it. I enjoyed looking at the different techniques and styles the kids had for solving the problems. With Jamboard you can see their creativity come out. Do they draw on the board? Insert pictures? Add colors and fun text or keep it simple? Do they show a lot of work or just a little? Everyone has a different style.
One pair really made my day. They did the math part and then they added a page at the end – a collage that just showed how much fun they had together. They were collaborating in a breakout room on a Google Meet. One student was in person 2 days a week and the other learning fully virtually. I like Jamboard because it makes it easy to collaborate together. Here is their mini topic Jamboard.
The Team Jamboard
As our final 10 weeks started our hybrid learning time ended. Students would select either “virtual” or “in-person” and that is that. Gone are the days that I would talk to half of my class on the computer and half of my kids in the class. As the week approached I pondered how to build community in a class when all the kids have to face the same direction and wear a mask. I’ll be honest that I really LOVED the breakout rooms and the collaboration over space that our hybrid model afforded. I wasn’t ready for another pivot.
One day as I drove to school I thought, “What if we have permanent groups set up for these 10 weeks AND we have a team Jamboard?” I could assign the groups and create the Jamboard and share it with the students. In class I could have 5 tabs open on my computer and then bounce between them (showing or not showing solutions) as needed. As I walked into the building I saw my principal and her son (a 7th grader so my future student). Never one to actually flesh out an idea before sharing I just launched right into it for them. I was processing the idea myself as I explained it to them.
Set it up for your class
Check out these two videos to see how to create a team Jamboard and then how to put them in a Learning Management System (or hyperdoc) to keep them safe.
How do the kids find their Jamboard?
If you watch the 2nd video you know. There’s a holding spot or container in our Learning Management System that has a link to each group’s Jamboard. All the kids have to do is to click that link. Even for a digitally organized person this is a nice touch.
Do they collaborate?
Yes. We have been using the platform for a while now and we didn’t just start out collaborating on a group board. Remember to give time to have students discover the tools or directly instruct how to use Jamboard. Teach the students how to use the pen and highlighter, insert pictures and more.
Potential trouble spots
When you start this on any day you have to give time for and expect drawing. Authorize the fun and then move into the work. This keeps the mood positive and gives students a chance for some self-expression and bonding time with their peers. Even with this there are some pitfalls. There’s no revision history in Jamboard. Just like with all other digital tools, it is a chance to consistently teach digital citizenship, respect and kindness.
How long will it take me?
If you watched the first video you have a pretty good idea of how to set this up. One thing to know is that you should create this from your Google Drive and start it from the folder you want it to live in. That will make it much easier than starting from the Jamboard page and then having to move each of them to your folder. Also, if you reverse the order and put it on the kids (say … make one Jamboard and set it so they have to make a copy and share it with you) then you CAN NOT put it in a folder. I use this work flow a lot to save myself time, but the very big downside is that I can’t put it in a folder. You CAN bookmark them in Chrome. I used this video as a guide to do that when for my last project when I had the students make a copy of my original template and share it with me.
Ultimately it depends on the use of your Jamboards for whether you need to make them yourselves and house them in folders or if it will work just fine for the students to make copies. There are many situations where you don’t even need them to share them with you.
Do they like it?
I launch new things with my Algebra class first. There is only one section of them and they are pretty blunt with telling me if they like or dislike something. I watched their reactions to this and then I asked them. After the first day, the general consensus was yes. We’ve been using it for about a week and kids seem to be collaborating well in teams.
I find that the use of the Team Jamboard can really help support the group process.
You can have just one person writing when you are trying to do a quick formative assessment. The other members can write on paper. You’ll quickly see if the team that looks like it has it all together does or if one or two members are carrying the team. Interested in just individual work for a big chunk of class though? Don’t use this platform – just use a solo digital whiteboard. I’m using this whiteboard for this purpose.
Keep Page 1 for challenges
Because this is a permanent group and we’re using this for end of the year exam study time, I have asked the kids to keep page 1 clear but told them they may make as may additional pages as they like. These pages can house review things, things they need/want to memorize etc. Jamboard limits you to 20 pages, so essentially they have a 20 page review document that everyone in their group can access.
Add problems to the Jamboard
In our review session as I was watching the writer write the work for a problem I put up on my screen using Microsoft Whiteboard I saw how slow the writing is. They had to recopy the problem and then start solving. So, for the next problem I took a snip of the problem and I popped into each whiteboard and placed the copy there for them to use. No recopy needed.
The image below is an example of something I plan to use in class. I made a note in Brightspace (remember to populate Jamboard before making this live) and then created this background for the Jamboard. I set it as a background for each group Jamboard and we’ll use it in class. I added the yellow note in case students checked out their Jamboard and thought it was work for them before class.
I LOVE this. In a virtual review session I was able to give feedback to the 5 groups in real time and then add a new snip of the next problem to try when a group was ready to go on. I asked them to switch the Jamboard writer for each problem (everyone was writing on paper). When ALL groups finished a problem I said, “you may not need to listen to me as I go over this or you may. I went through the problem for those listening and then went on.” I like that in a virtual setting you can listen without your friends knowing you need the support through a problem. In class this is a little trickier – kids in a really high functioning group that are struggling could struggle to choose to listen to the explanation.
We had our first review session for this with our permanent groups set up. One team came to visit me a lot with questions during study hall. I looked forward to their arrival to my desk during period 8. At the end of the week, not only did they submit an outstanding product but they added two fun collage pages and said, “you’ll enjoy this Ms. Dawson.”
Last year we got into a group “color coding” of notes explosion all starting with a few students. It extended throughout the 8th grade by the middle of the year. This year our thing is adding some fun to our Jamboards. Finding joy, fun and connection in the little things is so important.