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How do I take my favorite Smekens strategies and make them digital and interactive?
September 22, 2020
As teachers cross the digital divide, they are wanting their favorite Smekens resources to be digitized in order to meet the new constraints of in-person social distancing and at-home remote learning.
One of our favorite digital tools is a free Google application called Jamboard. The Jamboard software works like a whiteboard app in that you can type text or generate multi-colored sticky notes. This works great for small-group and even large-group collaboration and brainstorming.
While Google sells a fancy “Jamboard” interactive whiteboard for the in-person classroom, the accompanying software is free when you have a Google G Suite account. Once you open your Google Drive, select NEW and scroll down to MORE. This is where you will see Jamboard as an option. You can title and move the document you created into any folder just like other Google documents.
After creating a new Jamboard, go under the IMAGE tool to pull in a jpeg or png version of any Smekens resource. This might include some of your favorite blackline masters—T-Charts, ABC Charts, Storyboards, Dissected Webs, etc.
Unfortunately, Jamboard does not allow PDF files to be imported. However, if you take your favorite PDF files, print them out, and then scan them as JPEG images, this could offer an easy workaround.
Model how to use the app
Once your Jamboard is created, be sure to set aside time to model how the digital tools work. For example, model how to make colored sticky notes using the ABC Chart. Demonstrate how to brainstorm facts/details on any concept, complete the ABC Chart with digital sticky notes, and even move them into organized groupings.
Select the SHARE button and identify which students (or whole classes) need access to the same single Jamboard. (Remember, you can “make a copy” and designate different Jamboards to different small groups.)
Assessing student work
One of the most valuable features of Jamboard is the “download as PDF” option. After a group of students has completed their collaboration, they can save their work as a PDF and then submit it for assessment or even save it in their own digital folder for future reference.
The real-time digital collaboration offered by Jamboard has tons of potential uses. And during this era when social distancing and remote learning are part of the norm, this tool can offer a great way to make paper-based Smekens resources come to life online.