Remote teaching? Pretty essential. Parent’s evening from home? A key link between teachers and students. In-person teaching? Irreplaceable.
It’s great to be back in the classroom, forming positive relationships with students and, ultimately, guiding them on their journey to get the best out of their education – especially after I had to isolate for a week. That’s not to say that the remote learning period was dreadful for me; quite the opposite, in fact. I really did enjoy teaching from home. There are lots of takeaways from this period of teaching that I think would be invaluable to adapt into our everyday lives in the classroom. One of my biggest and best ways to implement digital technology into the classroom – during lockdown and now while in school – was Google Jamboard.
Here’s how and why it’s going to spice up your teaching.
Jamboard is an application by Google that complements its Education suite of programs, which are essentially Microsoft Office clones. Sheets replaces Excel; Docs replaces Word and Slides replaces Powerpoint. We morphed into a Google school long before I got my job, and it’s been a breeze adapting my resources to fit with programs that appeared quite new and refreshing to me.
Using Google’s other programs has been a really wise move for helping better incorporate digital technology in the classroom, and Jamboard is one such program. It acts as a whiteboard, allowing me to draw on the screen, rather than using a physical whiteboard.
This is really useful, since I often have to turn around to use the boards, taking my eyes off the students. Mostly this is fine but, for those children who are more likely to misbehave without a teacher’s watchful eye, looking anywhere but forwards can be an invitation for distractions.
How do I use Jamboard?
There are a few ways in which Jamboard can be implemented to aid your teaching. Over the remote learning period, I shared temporary access to all students joining on a Google Meet link, which allowed them to contribute their ideas to a question that I’d posed by responding via virtual post-it notes. It’s really important that you remove access once finished, or else this can be an easy distraction.
I tried this method out in the classroom once students returned and it was somewhat successful, but the students took so long being instructed on where to find the link and how to access it that I doubt they will be offered the same opportunity once more, as the same outcome could be achieved using the mini-whiteboards in their planners.
What has worked really well is my personal use of it in the classroom.
In September last year, every teacher was given an iPad and stylus by the school, largely to support them in case a computer is not free for lesson planning, marking and data, but to also better incorporate digital technology within the classroom, especially with the rollout of Apple devices to every member of year 4 and year 7 across the academy trust.
As much as I love technology, I wasn’t really getting the most out of my iPad until the remote learning period. I’d be far more likely to scribble a spider diagram on a physical whiteboard than to put it on a virtual one but, now that I’ve had some practice at setting up and opening Jamboards before the students come in, I find my iPad joined to my hand during every lesson to support my pedagogy.
The kids love it because it just looks so cool to see their teacher writing on a tablet, and for it to appear on the big screen, despite being nowhere near it. For me, it’s great because it means that I can continue to wander around the classroom, at a safe social distance, to check on the progress of different students. It’s also just a little nicer getting to deliver content from a place that isn’t behind my computer screen all day.
There you have it: how Google Jamboard powered up my pedagogy. What strategies have you been using to be a better classroom teacher?