5 creative Google Jamboard TEFL activities!

Every now and then there’s an ICT tool that catches my attention. Unfortunately, the more years I spend teaching, the less frequently I like a tool a lot. Maybe it’s true when they say that you can’t teach an ‘old’ dog new tricks. Or maybe because, with more experience, there is a greater need for actually useful tools with real pedagogical value. In any case, Google Jamboard caught my attention and here is a list of my 5 most favourite activities I’ve been using with my students!

Introduction

What is Google Jamboard, you ask. In a nutshell, it is a whiteboard that focuses on collaboration. The participants can interact by writing on sticky notes or on standard text boxes. Another feature that I really enjoyed using is the laser to point on the board. Unlike, the one in Zoom this one looks more well-implemented. Regarding the number of participants, as far as I know, you can have as many people on screen as you want, until it crashes πŸ˜€ (that happened once and it wasn’t pleasant)

The activities

Word to definition

It’s one of my favourite ways to get the students to figure out challenging vocabulary after they’ve read a text or listened to a conversation! Here, I’ve made a classroom background with two boards, one with the words and another one with the definitions. Your students can work together to figure out the pairs. After everyone has finished,  you can match the words to the definitions with the help of your students! Simple πŸ™‚

  • Here’s the link to the JamBoard
  • Download the backgrounds (I’ve put them all together in one file)
 

Ranking

This is a great activity to get your students practising function language such as agreeing, disagreeing, introducing opinion etc. Give your students a list. It could be anything; for instance, a list of five different recipes. Your students need to discuss all the recipes and explain why they like them. In the end, they need to decide on the order from their most to their least favourite! Below there’s an example from a lesson plan I created based on a famous video game, Civilization 6.

Naming objects

Find any picture on the web and just click on the image with the little plus ‘+’ icon (picture below) to enter it as your own background!

For instance a picture of a house like the one below. If your students already know the vocabulary and you’re reviewing it, ask your students to place sticky notes next to each object with its name. If you are introducing new vocabulary use it to elicit the already known and new vocabulary. Again place a sticky note next to each object and tell your students to take a screenshot or just keep the link so that they can go back and study the room! Just remember to use royalty-free pictures!

Photo by Charlotte May from Pexels

Brainstorming activities

Scott Thornbury suggests that brainstorming topic-related vocabulary before writing, reading and listening tasks can increase their performance in the tasks that will follow (Beyond the sentence). Put your students into two teams and give them a different colour note. They have 1-2 minutes to place sticky notes with vocabulary connected to the given topic. Jamboard can become the place where all the student-generated vocabulary can be kept and explained for future reference. By this I mean during the reading, listening and writing tasks! Here’s an example board of my students brainstorming vocabulary related to personality.

 

A jumbled picture story from Rachel Tsateri

Taking inspiration from Jim Scrivener’s Learning Teaching, she ‘digitally’ cut out a series of pictures from a worksheet that when put together in the right order they complete a story. Interacting with the pictures by moving them around, makes this activity as fun as it would be in a f2f class, where students move around the cutouts! On top of this, she put together a lesson plan, a student copy and a teacher’s one to assist us, as well as different activities and exercises that go well with the story. You can read the full article and download the materials from here!
 
 

My thoughts

In a nutshell, I’ve enjoyed using Jamboard for the simple reason that it has made some activities more visual and thus more easy to follow. For example, the visuals gave a structure to the ranking activity and so the students have been able to focus more easily on the task at hand.

That’s all for now! Do you think Jamboard can make our busy teaching lives a bit easier? Have you used it before, and if yes how? Let me know below! πŸ˜€

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Anthony Antonopoulos

About Anthony 21 Articles
From teaching 3 year-olds during my first year teaching to the point where I was teaching military officers for the Greek Army. My teaching career has been a rollercoaster of different non-sensical experiences. Lucky to have worked in a few amazing schools such as ih London, Aberdeen & Lacunza. If you want to talk about technology & video games in education I'm your man :)

16 Comments

  1. I couldn’t agree more with your final word on Jamboard, β€œ….it has made some activities more visual and thus more easy to follow.”

    I tried it, recently, with a class strength of 120 and guess what happened? Yep, it wasn’t pleasant.

    Your β€˜Naming object’ activity has, particularly, caught my attention. I might try it when the opportunity arises.

    Thanks for sharing, Anthony πŸ™‚

    • Hi Girish!
      Blimey 120 people that’s a lot! Did it freeze completely?
      Let me know if you use it! Being a fellow jammer you know I enjoy my feedback!
      Always a pleasure!

  2. Thank you very much, the post has been really inspiring, I’ve learnt that you can put some backgrounds which I was missing from JamBoard

  3. Hi. A newbie here. If I use JamBoard on Zoom does the student do all this when I share the screen, or she would need to have a second device to manipulate the sticky notes, for instance? Thanks!

    • Hi Ana! The issue here is that when you share your screen they can’t interact with what you’re sharing, in this case, the Jamboard. But they can use the same device they use for zoom and Jamboard at the same time! You just need to share the link of the Jamboard to the chatbox. They can keep zoom minimised while they are working on Jamboard. Hope this helps, in case you need any more help feel free to ask!

  4. Thanks for your article. I’ve been using Jamboard with breakout rooms, one sheet (a Jamboard can have many sheets) per room. It’s the same URL, just the last part changes: viewer?f=0
    It’s easy to create/delete sheets and duplicate them quickly as needed.
    Jamboard has its limitations, such as not being able to select multiple objects, but I’m finding it useful for dialogue building. For more complex activities, or for more formatting options, Google Slides is the best tool in my opinion. It can also include audio and video which are desirable for many language teaching activities.

    • Hi, Paul! I totally agree with you about Google Slides. It’s more responsive than Jamboard and creating sheets is more intuitive. Tbh, I didn’t know the trick with changing the number at the end of the URL. So, no need to duplicate them beforehand, you can just do it on the fly, right? The sticky notes make it really easy to contribute a dialogue, I second this.

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