12 Ways to “Jam” with Your Students using Google Jamboards

This is a guest post by Katherine Miller.

My school, like many around the world, almost exclusively uses Google for Education. From delivering instruction using Slides and YouTube to Classroom in order to collect individual work from students, even our smallest learners are able to log into their Google accounts and navigate their device throughout the many products included in the Google suite. Surprisingly, even though we use Google products every day, I have not had much experience with Jamboard. In fact, I rarely hear much about it!

In case you are also new to Jamboard, it is Google’s version of a digital, collaborative whiteboard. In 2016, Google introduced the development of the hardware which consists of a 55’ 4K touchscreen costing about $5,000 USD. The good news is that Jamboard is also software that can work on any device for FREE. The app and website still allows students to view, collaborate, or independently work on a Jam as with any other Google file, in case the actual board is a little out of your budget.

Google boasts that with a Jamboard or the Jamboard app, you can:

  • Write and draw 
  • Search Google and insert images or webpages
  • Drag and resize text and images with your fingers
  • Autodraw: image recognition technology converts your sketch into a polished image
  • Share your jams with collaborators

Obviously, I LOVE the idea of students creating and creating with others from anywhere! With all of these features, Jamboard can easily fit into your music classroom in many different ways.  Here are 12 ideas of how Jamboards could make that happen in your classroom, too!

12 Ways to “Jam” with Your Students

 1. Whiteboard for Instruction

Jamboard is a great tool for the teacher to use, especially if you are teaching synchronously. Students can be given access to “view” your Jam and you can use it just like the whiteboard in your classroom as you provide your lesson in whatever platform your school uses. Google just announced on September 22, 2020 that Jamboard is now integrated with Google Meet!

2. Student Check In

Student Checking Google Jamboards

Having trouble taking attendance during instruction? Curious how your students are handling all this change to our normal routine? Jamboard can be a great way to check in with students.  Debi Bober, the administrator of the “Teachers using Jamboards” group on Facebook, creates fun morning check-ins by using memes. She makes a sticky note with each student’s name. Once students are made an “editor” to the Jam, they can move their note to the meme that best describes their feelings.  This can easily be copied using the “make a copy” function in Google to use day after day, with some new, updated memes of course!

3. Graphic Organizers

Because students can use writing, typing, or images to convey information, Jamboard is a great tool to have students complete a graphic organizer. An example of this is using a Venn diagram to compare/contrast or having them record their knowledge on a KWL (Know, Want to Know and Learned) Chart.  This can be done collaboratively or individually by making each student a copy.

4. Measure Understanding

During in person instruction, I often use strategies to quickly measure the understanding of students like, for example, asking them to show thumbs up or thumbs down in regards to their own understanding of a topic. You could also use Jamboard to visually record how well students are understanding any topic by taking a quick, anonymous poll. Get a free Jam template for checking student understanding by visiting: 10 Jamboard Templates for Distance Learning

5. Brainstorming

Jamboard can allow you to collect all of your students ideas by having students add their own sticky notes to any Jam that you share. This makes it a perfect fit for any brainstorming activities. 

6. Brainstorming in real time

Julie Anne Russell took brainstorming to the next level by having students work collaboratively AND synchronously to brainstorm how a piece of music made them feel.  You can see her example by visiting her post on Twitter.

7. Drawing Activities

From word search puzzles to picture finds, having a pen tool makes some activities just a little easier to adapt for online learning. Even my smallest learners could use Jamboard to dictate melodic direction or practice rhythm writing.

8. Parking Lot

Jamboards can also be a great tool to use as a parking lot.  A Parking Lot is a strategy where a teacher provides a space for students to write their ideas and ask questions about a given topic. April Wills shared an example on Twitter of how she created a process for students to request songs they would like to hear using Jamboard. A parking lot could also provide a space for you to answer questions so all users can see the answers in case they are wondering the same thing. And, even parents too! 

Parking Lot Jamboards

9. Photo Scavenger Hunt

Since Jamboard allows you to add documents from other Google apps or even search the web to add images, students could easily go on a photo scavenger hunt and record the items they found in a Jam. For instance, you could instruct students to find items around their house that they could create quarter note or eighth note rhythms patterns with. Or, they could create a collection of things that produce sounds in different ways. The possibilities are endless!

10. Labeling Activities

Jamboard can also be used for any type of labeling activity. Students could add labels to any picture you add including a line of music from classroom repertoire or they could diagram the form of a song. Terri Iacarino shared an example on Twitter of how, instead of sharing her screen, she could have students label the dynamics of a greeting song using Jamboard. 

Jamboard Labeling from Terri Iacarino

11. Partner Activities from a distance

Jamboard can be a great place to build game boards for students to work together from a distance….whether that is 6 feet of social distance at school or the distance between two students learning from home. You can even make partner play more fun by pairing your game with this online dice or wheel to spin.

12. Virtual Games

All the changes to our normal, musical routines does not mean the fun has to stop!  Jamboard can also be used to adapt games you want to play with your whole class. For instance, my class loves to play 4 corners for a variety of practice activities including melodic and rhythm reading. You can adapt a game like this by allowing students to move an image or sticky note to the corner they want (A, B, C, or D) rather than moving their actual body. Terri Icarino shared another awesome example of how she was able to use Jamboard to recreate a singing game she plays with students using the song “Peg Leg the Pirate”. 

Before you run and have every student add Jamboard to their device, there are few things you might want to consider:

  • Jamboard does have a limit to the amount of collaborators allowed on each Jam. Google says the limit is 50 users but many educators on social media have reported that number is closer to 20. If your class or ensemble has more students than that, a great work around for this is to create multiple copies of your Jamboard. Rather than sharing the link directly to the Jamboard itself, you can share a link to a folder on your Google Drive where all the copies are stored. Then, small groups of students can be assigned to collaborate on each copy whether that be by section, instrumentation or other groups you create within your face to face or online learning environment.

  • To collaborate on a Jamboard, students have to be given editor rights. That can be really scary if you do not set clear boundaries for what is expected and appropriate. I would suggest making sure you model what it looks like to work within the app before you release the editor rights to students to begin collaborating. And, as always, make sure you are checking in and observing the work of students within each Jam. 

  • In my opinion, as an elementary general music teacher, a huge limitation of Jamboard is that images and templates you create in Jamboard cannot be fixed or locked as you might be able to do in an app like Slides. Although there are backgrounds available in Jamboard, you cannot create a background for yourself. This means students can adjust or change the items you have set up for them. A great way to get this added to Jamboard in the future is to submit your ideas to Google! They love to hear how their products can be better for you and your students. Until then, make sure you keep a template for yourself just in case!

Are you using Jamboards in your music classroom? We would love to see how so we can continue to learn more about the Jamboard app.

Download your copy

Would you like to take a copy of this article with you? Click the button below and a copy of this will be sent directly into your inbox.

Click here to download

About the writer

Katherine Miller

Katherine (Katie) Miller holds a Bachelor of Music in Education degree from Otterbein University (Westerville, OH) and a Masters of Educational Leadership from Antioch McGregor Midwest (Yellow Springs, OH). She has 15 years of professional musical experience as a music educator and performer.

She is currently employed by the School District of Waukesha in Waukesha, WI, where she teaches K-5 General Music and serves as a district model tech classroom. She was recognized in 2018 as a WPT Education Innovator by Wisconsin Public Television Education team. Twitter: K8TMiller

Looking for More Resources for Music Teachers?

Hello! I’m Katie Wardrobe – an Australian music technology trainer and consultant with a passion for helping music teachers through my business Midnight Music.

I’m a qualified teacher but no, I don’t currently teach in a school. I help teachers through my online professional development space – the Midnight Music Community – where there are tutorial videos, courses, links and downloadable resources.

MMC Mockup new

I like to focus on easy ways to incorporate technology into what you are already doing in your music curriculum through a range of creative projects. I also run live workshops and have presented at countless conferences and other music education events.

If you want simple, effective ideas for using technology in music education, I would LOVE to help you inside the Midnight Music Community.

Learn more and take a sneak peek inside