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Why Jamboard Works

If you have read any of my recent posts about Jamboard, you know that I’m obsessed with it…but haven’t been able to put my finger on what, exactly, has felt so enticingly different. I was thrilled to find this blog post by Ben Whitaker that helped define some of what makes Jamboard feel so different.

“Moving beyond substitution, tasks can be totally redefined in how students can work together and develop ideas. For instance, as part of a revision session, I used the sticky notes feature to ask students to list a topic they had found difficult in that term and add their name. Each student ‘wrote’ on their own device through the app and these sticky notes appeared on every other student’s screen in real time. This mesmerised many of them but the magic was in the next step – asking them to group common themes together, add thumbs up and down in terms of their confidence levels on topics, and then partner themselves with someone who felt more confident in that area. The peer coaching that emerged has been amazing…” from We Jammin’! by Ben Whitaker.

I went looking through some of my old Jamboards to get a sense of how I have used them this year. This first one was a do-over from a very early Jamboard designed to have students look at the meaning of integers in context. Since it was a do-over, I added the option for students to create their own story problems, including bringing in images of their own pets.

Student-created frames to model real-life scenarios for the meaning of zero (6.NS.C.5)

Jamboards allow for significant quantity of student-generated material, but within a targeted content focus.

Student-created number lines reveal formatting errors (1- rather than -1) while the student-generated explanation demonstrates good understanding (6.NS.C.6)
The combination of open-ended (“use any decimal operation”) with a prompt (building connection by using an image of one of my cats) provides both structure and lots of room for creativity while reviewing key math content (6.NS.B.3)

My research on Jamboards also pointed out that “Simple tasks like ordering events on a timeline or an opinion continuum allows students to all be working on the same document simultaneously without the need for copy and paste!”

Students can work simultaneously and in real-time, as modeled in the Jamboard above. Engagement is high, social interaction is high, and mathematical creation is also high, as students are not waiting on peers. An added bonus is the spontaneous positive feedback I have noticed students giving each other the more they work together.

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