By Kyle Clark
In the last 9 months, we have all, in our own ways, gone outside of our comfort zones and adapted our pedagogy to meet the needs of remote and hybrid learning. I am sure many of you can recall peers referring to a plethora of online resources and applications that have reinvented their methods and found favor with their respective students. If this sounds familiar, then you too probably feel overwhelmed with all the options, not knowing where to start or, more importantly, what works best for your style, age group, or content area.
Even though Google Suite does not require one to travel too far off the beaten path, I have found that it is still one of the more trustworthy and dynamic options to help teachers convert their classrooms to digital learning. Besides the obvious realities that make this platform well-rounded (unlimited space, automatic recovery during technical issues, connectivity, etc.) and accessible, it is Google Suite’s many applications that truly gives it an underappreciated value. Between Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites, Drawings, Forms, etc., one can find an outlet for almost any aspect of a lesson. In fact, when I prepare my own lessons, I make sure to use a different application for each activity in order to promote more engagement and avoid repetitive tasks.
Even though all of these apps have the potential to be centrally organized in Google Classroom to reconstruct your physical classroom as a digital experience, something is still needed to “anchor” your lesson in the same way a whiteboard would in your physical classroom. Google Jamboard can serve as that foundation regardless whether your school is practicing in-person, remote, or hybrid learning. The whiteboard can no longer be the classroom’s centerpiece because, as we have discovered this year, students who are learning through a laptop camera cannot easily see the board as easily as those who are in person. Along with Jamboard’s potential to replace whiteboards and Expo markers, it is easily accessible and can be assigned, shared, and submitted through Google Classroom because it belongs in the Google Suite. And while it does not have the same exact functionality as its cousins (Docs, Slides, Sheets, etc.), its interface is simple almost to a fault.
Google Jamboard, like a blank whiteboard, has an inherent simplicity that may be daunting at first glance because there are endless possibilities across all content areas. However, after a deeper investigation, I have found that with a push in the right direction, it has the potential to convert various physical learning modalities to their digital counterparts. Navigate to the sidebar for examples that demonstrate how Google Jamboard can easily support students’ study skills, as well as basic grammar and writing, by adapting strategies used prior to remote and hybrid learning.
Google Jamboard has changed the way I lesson plan because I no longer feel like I am on a forever quest to find the holy grail of digital applications. This app has the means to increase engagement, promote discussion, and translate various learning modalities to the digital landscape. It is immediately transferable between in-person, hybrid, and remote learning, so you don’t have to worry about constantly reconceptualizing how to teach the same thing in a million different ways.
Remember that most things are good in moderation, and Google Jamboard is NOT meant to be the only tool in your quiver. It can be used as another way to begin, end, or connect your lesson with other types of material in order to promote dynamic engagement. Yes, Jamboard can begin by serving as the replacement for those “real-life” whiteboards, but it also has the potential to be so much more because of its evolving output. At the end of the day, Google Jamboard checks off a lot of boxes in a simple way, but more importantly, it promotes the most essential building blocks that we are all searching for in our classrooms: investigation, discovery, classroom management, inclusion, equity, and curiosity.
Kyle primarily teaches a variety of writing classes along with a Film Literature class at Landmark High School. He also works heavily in the Residential Program as a Campus Coordinator and coaches the Boy’s Varsity Lacrosse team in the spring. In the summer, Kyle has remained connected to Landmark’s mission by assisting with the Skills + program, teaching a writing course for Landmark Outreach Online, adapted the grammar curriculum for remote learning through the Burke Award grant, and has helped to establish, as well as participated in, a pilot program for yearly teacher training seminars with local schools in Mozambique in 2017. Kyle holds a bachelor of science degree in Business Administration from the University of Vermont as well as a master’s degree from Simmons University.