This little known Google tool can help students ‘show their work’ with digital assignments

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“Showing your work” in a hybrid or remote learning environment can be quite tricky β€” but there’s a little known Google tool that some teachers have found is a pretty good digital alternative.

It’s called Google Jamboard.

Jamboard is technically the name of both a web application (which is what we’ll be discussing here) and a physical interactive touchscreen that schools and businesses can buy for teaching and meetings.

The one thing that some people don’t realize is that you don’t need to buy a physical Jamboard screen to use the service.

At its core, Jamboard’s free software service is essentially a digital whiteboard β€” so it’s best for “free form” writing or drawing, unlike other alternatives for making digital worksheets.

Here’s how to use Google Jamboard with Google Classroom to give your students their own “scratch pad” to show their work on.

  1. Go to jamboard.google.com and sign in, if needed.
  2. Google calls each file a “Jam” β€” think about it like each Google Doc or Slides presentation you create in those tools.
  3. Each Jam, meanwhile, can have more than one “frame.” Think of frames as slides or pages (it’s likely Google is using the word “Jam” and “frame” to avoid confusion with its other tools).
  4. It’s a good idea to create a separate Jamboard for each assignment that students need to complete and give it a name that makes sense.
  5. You can leave the frames blank or add prompts or other information, though these will remain editable by students. You can also select colored or grid backgrounds or upload your own image, which is a fairly new feature.
  6. Some teachers also go in and add a frame for each problem on the assessment they’re giving β€” for example, if you’re giving a 10 question math quiz, add 10 blank frames and have students do problem 1 on frame 1, etc.
  7. Once you’re happy, it’s time to post to Google Classroom.
  8. This is where things get a bit tricky β€” because Google Jamboards don’t smoothly integrate with Google Classroom or Drive yet. However, clicking the “Share” link on a Jam will bring up that familiar sharing dialog box. Set the permissions as appropriate (typically giving anyone in your organization editing rights is best) and then copy the link.
  9. You can then go into Google Classroom and add this as a “link” on an assignment. Note that you won’t be able to use the Google Drive integration to link to the Jamboard. You’ll also likely want to check the “make a copy for each student” link.
  10. One other final note: If you’re giving a Google Forms Quiz and attaching a Jamboard, you won’t be able to import grades because Google Classroom only supports grade importing on assignments with one attachment (even if the other attachments can’t even have a “grade” entered).
  11. Because of this, a workaround is to create one assignment for the actual quiz and a separate one, scheduled to go live at the same time called “Work” or “Whiteboard” along with the name of the assignment so students know what it’s for.

In general, Jams are a bit easier for students digitally write on because they scribble tool is a bit easier to use. It also supports letting them draw shapes, add images, change colors and type if they prefer, so it can be an ideal way to not only collect work but also do interactive projects such as mind mapping.

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