Getting my Jam on with Jamboard

Bob Read is the Education and Training Foundation’s (ETF’s) Regional Specialist Lead (RSL) for Maths and English in the eastern region. He facilitates a monthly regional network for English practitioners who wish to address challenging aspects of their teaching that enables members to explore new teaching strategies and glean insights they can share in their organisations.

In the December meeting participants discussed some sample English resources created using Jamboard, an online interactive whiteboard tool. The discussion fired the imagination of Nicola Milton, a Functional English and GCSE English teacher at Cambridge Regional College. She has gone on to use Jamboard to good effect with her learners to enable them to work more collaboratively in new and interesting ways. Here, in a piece originally published on the College’s Excellence Blog, she explains how.

What struck me recently was the development of IT literacy, in all my learners, since we began online lessons in late September. Their confidence levels have risen dramatically, as have mine. Last week, some of my learners expressed appreciation of what they have learned so far in English and the development of IT skills. They are proud of what they are now able to do. I guess that is what you could call the ‘silver lining’ of this looming Covid-19 storm cloud.

The most recent digital tool which we have been embracing is Jamboard, in conjunction with breakout rooms – what a treat! I would describe Jamboard as having the basic functionality of a SMART board. But the fun doesn’t stop there!

If you’re looking for a collaborative tool where learners can join anonymously without having to sign in, where they can all participate and the teacher can see development of ideas and work in real time, then Jamboard is for you. If you’re looking for something that enables you to download work in a PDF format to share on a PADLET or within your Teams channel, Jamboard has it covered. With Jamboard you can set the background to lined, squared or dotted paper – you can even upload your own image. Perhaps you have a text that you want learners to highlight and annotate. Perhaps your image is a gapped handout, an angle, a technical diagram… Oh, the possibilities!

We have recently carried out a collaborative writing task where my learners, in breakout groups of three or four, worked together to draft the opening of a speech. Afterwards, I shared the screen and encouraged each group to talk about how they approached the task, what their successes were and how they could improve their opening.Screenshots graphicIt has also worked well as a reflective collaborative group task on the reading unit, looking at what the learners felt confident they knew and what they still felt they wanted to know. This helped learners take ownership of their learning and identify areas for self-improvement. This reflective activity has also formed the basis of individual SMART targets.

My learners warmed to Jamboard almost instantly, creating colourful sticky notes, writing using the text box feature and pasting screenshots of notes typed on their phones – an inclusive, interactive environment for learners to flourish.

This all sounds great, but what about higher-level learners, such as GCSE? Can Jamboard provide the ability to consolidate learning and create revision-based activities? Yes, absolutely! As William Arthur Ward once said, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it.” You are only limited by your imagination.

Jamboard is a fantastic platform which enables teachers to create digital versions of what they would do in the classroom. Imagine that the Jamboard slide is the learners’ table within a physical classroom. What activity would you like them to complete to consolidate learning or to assess pre-existing knowledge? Perhaps a card sort and matching activity? You can easily recreate these on Jamboard and with a simple sharing of the link learners can access and complete tasks in real time, in front of your very eyes.

Jamboard is easy to master for both teacher and learners. You can create simple and effective ‘drag and drop’ activities using the sticky notes function; interactive tasks by uploading background images, perhaps a tablet reading frame with a highlight, drag and drop and writing task, for example.

You don’t have to just take my word for it, here’s some examples of different matching and sorting activities I have created aimed at a range of ability levels.

One final thought – If we also taught these tools to our learners and develop their digital literacy, they would be able to consolidate their own learning and create revision-based activities. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Jamboard has definitely been a game changer for me and it could be for you too! If you fancy getting your jam on with Jamboard, here’s the link: Oh, and did I mention – it’s absolutely free!

To find out more about the maths and English practitioner networks organised by the RSL in your area please visit the RSLs page on the website. Details of the ETF’s comprehensive range of support for maths and English delivery are available on the programme page.

If you would like to contact Nicola to find out more about her use of Jamboard, please email her at:

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