Remote/Digital Learning · UDL in Practice · Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Lessons From Google Jamboard

It took me awhile to jump on the Jamboard bandwagon–I had a lot going on and I didn’t feel like I needed to add another new tool or program or really another new ANYTHING to my list! But, in October 2020, I attended a virtual meeting of the Math Leaders Network and was introduced to Jamboard in use…and I was hooked. As soon as I had a spare minute, I started building my own Jamboards to use in my Do Now’s in 6th grade math. As with any new practice in education, it has been as much a learning experience for me as a content experience for the students.

First (and Second) Try: Destroyed by the Laser

My first attempt at a Jamboard disintegrated into students basically just playing with the tool, more like a toy, especially the one student who spent the ten minutes running the laser in circles. Students wrote on each other’s pages, erased text, and so on. One thing I loved about the whole experience was that students were very clear, on the microphone and in chat, about identifying both what had worked and what needed more work. They were able to give constructive criticism, which meant that we were able to begin the second try by having students describe what it would look like to have a successful and appropriate Jamboard session. Because the first week had been so weak on content, I used the same Jamboard and we tried again, with much better success:

Learning from the Third Try: Instructions and Names

I wanted to try another Jamboard on the content standard about the meaning of zero in a real-world context. I thought it would be good to have pairs of images that could be represented by negative and positive integers, followed by a number line where students could use a sticky note to mark and label the two values.

I had thought that my instructions were pretty clear….but students were used to having one or two pages per group, so they expected that same structure and began “yelling” at each other and erasing each other’s work if they thought someone was writing on “their” page.

As I watched entire pages of work get erased as one group thought another was writing in the wrong place, I realized that I could fix this in the moment by having students own the sticky notes; my co-teacher picked up on what I was doing and modeled it in his response as well:

I realized a few things from this. One, students were in a groove and I would get more from them if they followed that same practice of having one or two pages for each group. Two, we could build ownership and perhaps reduce some of the behavior by explicitly asking for names on sticky notes. And, three, students struggled to go across pages.

Another try: Integrating Lessons Learned

With those lessons in mind, I designed a follow-up Jamboard, still on the topic of the meaning of zero, but with the instructions on each page, a sticky note about names on each page, the number line on the same page as the images, and the optional/extension student-designed problems at the end.

We will see how this goes! It is always a learning experience, but, with each round, student engagement grows and student responsibility increases as well. It matters to the students that they have a place where they can do their work and not have it disappear. I’m happy to mess up as a teacher to watch my kids grow in these skills!

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