Teaching and learning during the pandemic has catapulted everyone in education into a brand new world of tech-based pedagogy. Encouraging students to talk with each other about academic content can be difficult on an average day, but it is a major undertaking during distance learning. Digital whiteboards give students, at all proficiency levels, the opportunity to show their understanding, defend their answers, listen to their peers, and most importantly, reflect on their next steps in the learning process whether they are face-to-face, hybrid, or 100% virtual.
There are dozens of digital whiteboards that have been developed over the last year. Although they serve the same purpose, they each have specific tools that support the educational community in a different way. Participants can navigate these whiteboards through any web-based browser, Learning Management System (LMS), and/or via any live streaming platform. Google Jamboard is the digital whiteboard that has proven to be the most effective in our pre-kindergarten through fifth grade elementary school. We use it as a standards-aligned collaborative tool in a Google Meet, as a quick check, and as a formative assessment to drive instruction.
It is important to establish norms and give students the opportunity to explore Jamboard prior to focusing on academic activities.
Jamboard can be used as a simple whiteboard and can extend to the more complex interactive STEAM activity. Our youngest scholars can show whether they agree or disagree with a statement, choose a correct answer, share how they are feeling about their learning or their day all by just moving a sticky note that has their name on it. Teachers can create their own purposeful “Jams.” In addition, Esther Park, Holly Clark, and Ditch That Textbook have dozens of Jamboard templates for students of all ages to quickly show their thinking in a whole-group setting or in virtual breakout rooms. Our third through fifth graders are using breakout rooms to work collaboratively to solve complex math problems and performance tasks. Here’s a sample performance task.
Jamboards can also be used for Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and building a positive classroom community. Students can check-in to share their feelings, what they notice, what they wonder, and their struggles. Megan Venezia, a teacher on special assignment who specializes in social emotional behaviors, shares a plethora of SEL Jamboards on her Twitter feed. Julia Dweck, a STEAM teacher, creates interactive games that are perfect for class rewards, engaging in purposeful STEAM activities, and maintaining a positive community.
Even though Jamboard is a great addition to our teaching and learning toolbox, it is important to remember that technology should never be the center of the lesson but rather be used as a tool. Many of our students do not have the bandwidth to support these tools. If they take too long to use, the teacher needs to step back and think about its purpose. We need to have a Plan A, a Plan B, and a Plan C, for when the technology or WiFi is not working, so that students do not lose out on purposeful learning.
My school is not only using Jamboards with students, we are also using them during our professional development sessions. Recently, we discussed how we can use Achieve the Core’s Math Coherence Map and Literacy Lessons to ensure we are meeting the needs of all of our students whether we are teaching virtually or hybrid.
We also discussed how Jamboards have increased student engagement in just two short months. Teachers shared their reflections using different color sticky notes: green for purposeful discourse, blue for metacognition, and pink for exit tickets/quick checks.
We look forward to using Jamboards with our students’ grownups (parents/guardians) during our hybrid open house and during future parent involvement sessions.