skip to main content

Leading adult education through support for and the effective application of technology.

Let's Get Jammin'!

by Cindy Wislofsky, OTAN Subject Matter Expert
posted March 2022

If effective remote teaching has taught us anything, the importance of keeping students engaged while providing interactive, collaborative, task-based activities that work both synchronously and asynchronously is key. Enter Google Jamboard.

Google jamboard logo that looks like the letter J made from a circle and a rectangle.

Although this interactive, digital whiteboard has been around for several years, it has recently grown in popularity in the educational setting. Google Jamboard is one of Google's free online applications you will find in your Google Drive account along with Docs, Sheets, Forms, Slides, Sites, and more.

Icons for Google docs, sheets, forms, slides, and sites.

Each Jamboard consists of up to 20 frames, which are like slides. To each frame, you can add colorful sticky notes, textboxes, images, and shapes, or you can use it like a whiteboard and handwrite something with the pen tool. There is even a laser pointer to draw students' attention to items on the frame. It will disappear as you move it.

Uses

The uses for Jamboard as a collaborative learning tool are endless. Imagine posing a question for each student to answer anonymously; reviewing vocabulary by having groups label items in a picture; gauging student comprehension or lesson success with an exit ticket; modeling how to solve a math problem step-by-step using the pen and/or shapes; outlining or brainstorming project goals; or utilizing a graphic organizer like a Venn diagram, Four Corners, or Word Map. Whole group, small groups, and individuals are all beneficial uses.

Starting a New Jamboard

A new Jamboard (or Jam) appears like this:

Visual of a new jam. Untitled Jam is in top left; top taskbar includes magnifier tool, set background, clear frame, frame number, presentation button, three-dot menu, and share button. Left vertical tools are pen, eraser, select, sticky note, add image, shapes, textbox, and laser. In center is blank frame.

There are several ways to start a new Jam and, depending on your browser, you may be asked to log into your Google account if you are not already signed in.

  • Open your Google Drive account; select New > More > Google Jamboard OR
  • Go to jamboard.google.com and choose the plus in the bottom right OR
  • Use the shortcut jam.new from your browser.

The Basics of Jamboard Navigation

A. Horizontal toolbar

Numbered toolbar icons and items: 1. Untitled Jam; 2. frames; 3. present; 4. 3-dot menu; 5. share button; 6. undo/redo arrows; 7. magnifier; 8. set background; 9. clear frame.

  1. Name/Rename jam
  2. Move forward/back among frames; add frames; expand to see thumbnails; choose three dots on thumbnail to duplicate (especially to make multiple copies for groups) or delete; drag/drop thumbnails to reorder
  3. Present to a meeting
  4. Three-dot menu to rename, download as PDF, save frame as image, delete jam, copyjam, get help, send feedback to Google, see version history
  5. Share via email or link; set for others to edit or view
  6. Undo/Redo
  7. Zoom in/out
  8. Change frame background to dots, lines, grid paper, dark color, or image
  9. Clear all items on frame except for background

B. Vertical Toolbar

Numbered toolbar icons: 1. pen; 2. eraser; 3. arrow pointer; 4. sticky note; 5. image; 6. shape; 7. textbox; 8. laser.

  1. Pen Tool: 4 choices (pen, marker, highlighter, and brush) and 6 colors
  2. Eraser: Eliminate pen marks
  3. Select Tool: use to select textbox, image, or other item on frame; use as default to end previous tool
  4. Sticky Note: 5 color choices plus transparent option
  5. Add Image: from computer, camera, Google Search/Drive/Photos, URL
  6. Shapes: 8 choices (including circle, triangle, square, diamond, arrow); multiple fill and border color options appear in toolbar above frame
  7. Textbox: font size, text color, and align options appear in toolbar above frame
  8. Laser Pointer: red color only which disappears as move on frame

C. Simple Frame Item Interface

Sticky note with word Jamboard in the middle. Textbox states Text in front. Behind text is circle shape.

Sticky notes, textboxes, images, and shapes have a similar interface.

  • Use the two small bottom corner circles or side squares to resize the item.
  • Use the top left circle with the arrow to rotate the item.
  • Use the three-dot menu in the top right corner to edit text (sticky or textbox), duplicate, delete, and order (layer) items.
  • Layering items – the second visual shows a circle shape behind and a textbox in front. Use the three-dot menu for ordering choices.
  • Moving items - when item selected, see small four-arrow symbol to move item around frame.

10 Sample Activities

Activity Jam Frame

1. Reply to Question

Pre-writing or pre-conversation exercise to generate ideas. Can lead to research/fact-gathering for slide deck, interviews, or paragraph/essay.

Free template from helloteacherlady.com.

Question of the Day in center of frame with What state would you like to visit and why? Multiple sticky notes with responses like Oregon to see the coast there, New Mexico to visit Santa Fe, and Minnesota to visit the many lakes.

2. Vocabulary Concept Map

Groups are each assigned a frame with a word or idiom identified in the center. They add a definition, picture, sentence, and synonyms. Class can create a collection of new vocabulary.

Free Jamboard template from Pocketful of Primary. Name and email required to download.

Word 'fierce' in center box. Four corners show words Definition, Picture, Sentence, and Synonyms. In Definition corner states showing ferocious aggressiveness (adj.); Picture corner shows image of tiger's face displaying teeth; Sentence corner shows The tiger became a fierce animal when threatened; Synonyms corner shows words intense and powerful on sticky notes.

3. Four Corners Exercise

Students add name to preferred corner based on the statement in the center of frame. Extend to Zoom or Google Meet breakout rooms to discuss further. Can culminate in class debate or comparison of reasons for opinion.

Free Jamboard template from mrspark.org.

Four corners with words Strongly Agree, Agree, Strongly Disagree, and Disagree. Center box with statement Cooking at home is better than going out to a restaurant. Sticky notes with names shown in each of the four corner boxes.

4. Category Review

Post category in center, draw some lines, and learners post images with textboxes. Consider making several frames with various categories for group work.

Tip: To make a straight line, hold down the Shift key while drawing the line.

Jamboard created by author.

Word vegetables in center box. Lines extend from that to visuals and labels of corn, broccoli, potato, celery, and onion.

5. Vocabulary Building

Learners add sticky notes to describe picture. Can lead to generating sentences or finding synonyms/antonyms.

Jamboard created by author. Background image from pxhere.com and released under Creative Commons CC0.

Background visual of man holding chin with hand and looking up and to the right. Task on frame is Describe this man with one word. Various sticky notes around picture with words curious, lonely, sad, unsure, handsome, young, and contemplative.

6. Article Reading

All class reads an article and groups each answers a different question to summarize. Culminates in joint Jamboard that reviews main points of article.

Jamboard created by author. Background image from pixabay.com. No attribution required.

Large visual of word TEAM and characters holding up each letter. Question on frame What makes a successful team? Textbox contains communication, all participate, determine each member's strengths, assign roles. Group 3 shown in box in top right corner.

7. Working With Text

Use disappearing laser to guide students for read along (see red trail under word 'siblings'). In breakout rooms, students can do the same. Use higher level text to determine main ideas, details, etc. Alternatively, students circle or underline with pen to demonstrate understanding (e.g. How long has Chun Mei lived in San Diego? Who will she visit?)

Jamboard created by author.

Chun Mei has four siblings. She has no pets. She has lived in San Diego for five years. Next year she wants to visit her parents. Siblings has a faint line underneath. Five years is circled. Her parents is underlined.

8. Project Updates

Each group assigned a different frame to reflect and post tasks in appropriate To Do, In Progress, Done, and Approved columns.

Free template from canva.com. Available with free account.

Group 1 Project, week 2, March 7-11. Column 1 To-Do; Column 2 In Progress; Column 3 Done; Column 4 Approved. Sticky notes with research recipes under to-do; create presentation slides and find images on Pixabay under in-progress; assign tasks under done; and topic how to make chocolate bark under approved.

9. Conversation Starter

Students post responses to generate conversation initiated from instructor or other students (e.g. from this board, "Who is going to cook this weekend? What are you going to make? What are the ingredients?").

Free template from helloteacherlady.com.

Question of the Day in center of frame with What will you do this weekend? Multiple sticky notes with responses like study, play with my children, call my family, work, cook, watch a movie, and go shopping.

10. Exit Ticket

Use as a lesson barometer and tailor follow-up lessons accordingly. Students are assigned a number or pick one to open the sticky note and add their information. Consider other questions such as, "What is one thing you are confused about?" "How would you rate your participation today?" or "What question do you have about the lesson today?"

Free template downloaded from TeacherFYI.

Question in top left corner is What is one thing you learned today? Most of frame is 24 numbered sticky notes.

Best New Features

First, being able to create frame backgrounds that students cannot alter and that can be cleared and reused instantly is one of the best features of Jamboard. Whether using a picture, text passage, directions, questions, or something else for a frame background, you can enhance the learner experience and have peace of mind that the activity is more failsafe. Here are the steps.

  1. In frame, select Set Background and then Image.
  2. Search for image online or on computer (e.g., picture, illustration, screenshot of text)
  3. Select the image.
  4. Choose Set as Frame Background (bottom right).

OR

  1. Create Jamboard frame as desired (text, images, stickies, etc.).
  2. Select three-dot menu next to Share button.
  3. Choose Save Frame as Image (notice file in bottom left of computer).
  4. Go to Set Background and choose Image icon.
  5. Choose Upload > drag file into window OR Browse to find on computer > choose Open.

Now when any items are added to the Jam frame, use the Clear Frame feature to reuse the same frame with different students or from a different perspective.

More complex backgrounds can also be created with a Google Slide (e.g., create a table or chart, use more intricate shapes). To turn one slide into a Jam frame background, select the slide and choose File > Download > JPEG or PNG (see download in bottom left corner of computer) > Go to Jamboard frame > Choose Set Background and select Image > Choose Upload then drag file into window OR Browse to find on computer and choose Open.

Second, the addition of version history, as other Google apps contain, was added in response to user feedback. You can find your Jam's version history from the three-dot menu in the top horizontal toolbar.

Mobile App Option

Teachers or students may be using a tablet to create or interact with the Jamboards. The mobile app version can be downloaded onto your device (Google Play Store). Using a phone with Jamboard is possible, but because of the smaller screen, is not ideal.

A new jam opens onto a mobile device like this:

Screenshot of new Jamboard from mobile app. Toolbar items are checkmark, Untitled Jam, frame number, open on smart Jamboard icon, three-dot menu, pen tool, eraser, select, laser, insert button, undo/redo arrows, and pencil icon to edit.

Unique Mobile App Features

  • Using a tablet stylus pen can increase the clarity of handwriting on the whiteboard.

  • There are three assistive drawing tools included with the Jam pen tool (handwritten text to typed text, drawn shapes to graphics, and drawn visuals into illustrations).

    Assistive drawing tools and symbol for each (text, shape, drawing).

  • The plus symbol to insert items (in the left vertical toolbar) includes stickers.

    Display of colorful stickers like thumbs up, thumbs down, star, happy face, sad face, X, and checkmark.

Sharing Jamboards

  • In order for your learners to post onto a Jamboard, make sure to set the share so everyone can edit. Copy the link to drop in Zoom's chat, email to students, post on your LMS or website, etc.

    1. Choose Share. 2. Change to Anyone with this link can edit (aka Editor). 3. Choose Copy link. 4. Choose Done.

  • In contrast, if after an activity, your preference changes to view so that no one can continue to edit the content or you are providing resource content, set the share to Viewer. If another activity is planned using the Jam, you can always copy and paste the link again using the method you normally use with your learners.

    1. Choose Share. 2. Change to Anyone with this link can view (aka Viewer). 3. Choose Copy link. 4. Choose Done.

  • You can also force a copy for each student to practice independently.

    1. Share to edit andcopy link (as in #1 above). Paste it into a blank document.

    2. Delete from the word'edit' to the end.

      https://jamboard.google.com/d/1JKATyb1Tr9p/edit?usp=sharing

    3. Type the word 'copy'instead. Share the URL with your students.

      https://jamboard.google.com/d/1JKATyb1Tr9p/copy

    4. When students open it, they select'Make a Copy.'

      Copy document window stating question, "Would you like to make a copy of Teacher Demo 1 Jamboard?"  Make a copy button is at bottom.

Motivation to Use Jamboard

"Enhancement of learning through technology is when the tool is somehow aiding, assisting, scaffolding learning in a way that could not easily be done with traditional methods. This is the level where learning can become personalized and more relatable to the learner." (Liz Kolb, creator of the Triple E Framework system and author of Learning First, Technology Second: The Educator's Guide to Designing Authentic Lessons, 2017.)

Jamboard checks all these boxes!! Give it a go with your students or colleagues and let's get jammin'! You might even extend your lessons by having your students create their own jams!

Resources

A. Free Jamboard templates – instead of reinventing the wheel!

  • Ditch That Textbook (Matt Miller): overview of Jamboard and 16 templates; includes classroom ideas.
  • TeacherFYI (MacKenzie): numbered frames with sticky notes and exit ticket template.
  • Hello Teacher Lady (Shana Ramin): five templates – this/that, yes/no, four corners (agree/disagree and multiple choice), and question of the day.
  • Pocketful of Primary (Michelle Emerson): 10 templates including multiple choice, true/false, Venn diagram, KWL, main idea web, this/that. Requires first name and email to access templates.
  • Mrs Park (Esther Park): many colorful templates including breakout room choices, info gap, check-in, choice board, compare/contrast, levels of understanding; downloads as Google Slides (compatible with Jamboard).
  • Canva.com: many templates available with account; some free, some Pro version (but free with educator's account)

B. Jamboard video tutorials – increase knowledge and get more ideas!

Scroll To Top

OTAN activities are funded by contract CN220124 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.