3 Ideas for Customizing Your Class Jamboard

Matthew Thaxter
PD Account Manager / PD Specialist
Blog on September 17 2021

Google Jamboard is an awesome tool for collaborative or individual activities. Whether you’re a Jamboard pro, or a beginner, there are some interesting tricks and techniques for your Jams that can make your lessons more unique and interactive.

 

Jamboards (a.k.a Jams) are interactive whiteboard-style files where teachers can have students participate in activities, whether on the fly or predesigned. Here are some techniques to make things easier for students and yourself when you are designing ahead of class time. 

 

1. Using custom backgrounds

Using backgrounds in Jams will allow you to design workspaces that limit students accidentally-on-purpose moving the images out of place. Since we are using Google Workspace here, let’s start with the most tools to create backgrounds — Slides and Drawings. Here is how to create custom backgrounds:

  1. Start with opening a blank Slide or Drawing
  2. Be sure to click on FILE—>Page Setup and choose “Widescreen 16:9”
  3. Design the slide in the manner in which you would like to have interactivity or workspace (see what I did there?).
    1. Graphic organizers (Venn diagrams, KWL charts, etc.)
    2. Templates from Google or third party websites
  4. When you think you’re set, download the file: Click on FILE—>PNG image. This will be downloaded to your computer and ready to be used on a Jam.
  5. Open a Jam and choose “Set background” off the menu bar.
  6. Click the add image icon
  7. Select upload and find your PNG image
  8. Your image should fill up the space very nicely.

To build in that interactivity, add movable objects that can be dragged to a location on the background (e.g. classification, matching, etc.).

2. Reveal style activities

The first reveal activity is a “check your answers” which is great for independent practice. This is very similar to many interactive whiteboard programs that enable students to check answers against their responses. Here are some steps to make this happen:

  1. Open a Jam and set the background to any of the white backgrounds
  2. Add any of the content you wish to be revealed —text, images, graphics, etc.
  3. Use the Pen tool on the left panel, use the thickest white ink and cover the soon to be hidden object
  4. Insert questions, clues, etc., as well as a designated space for student answers (like a box or line). These should be either directly next to the content to be revealed or just below/above it.
  5. Have students erase the white zone next to the response to reveal the correct answer.

Another reveal activity you can create is a “hint” activity where questions are asked and hints can be revealed as needed. Based on the similar techniques as before, you can add the answers, hints, or solutions as part of the background. Use shapes or other objects that block or cover those answers or hints, and when time comes to reveal them, simply drag them away to reveal.

3. Using Animated GIFs as a background/object

Adding animated images on a whiteboard page can help illustrate to students an action or an event. Use the techniques mentioned above to add an animated image. Even as a background image, the animation will continue and students will be unable to interact with the background. You can use animated GIFs of plate tectonics, Earth-Moon systems, maps that reflect change over time, etc. These will allow students to observe and make observations of those animations on the frames.

Aesthetic tips!

  • Regardless of which background technique you use, always be mindful of how opaque or transparent the background is compared to the foreground objects. If the background is too bold or too busy, the foreground objects could get lost on the frame.
  • You can use your Bitmojis as images and backgrounds to personalize your frames
  • For authentic individualized assignment, be sure to use Jams as Google Classroom Assignments and that each student gets their own copy to complete and submit.

For some visual steps and great tips about Google Jamboard and other apps in the Workspace, please visit the Google Skills page on OTIS for educators. For other great webinars about Google Workspace products, Teq has partnered with Alice Keeler on our OTIS for Educators™ platform.  Alice has covered these topics on OTIS:  Back to School with Google Forms; 10 Google Classroom Tips for Student-Centered Classroom, and Measuring Student Engagement with Google Classroom.

 


For more tips, tricks, and tools for teaching in and out of the classroom, check out more articles on the Teq Talk blog.

We also offer virtual professional development, training, and remote learning support for educators with OTIS for educators. Explore the technology, tools, and strategies that can spark student success — no matter where teaching or learning are happening.


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