Making Online Discussion Fun and Interactive with Google’s Jamboard

Inviting Participation

Many students are reluctant to ask questions or comment with a large group during discussions. The virtual environment makes this worst. Maybe they don’t want their whole face taking up the screen or posting to the chat under their name. Or they do post, but their comments become lost in the deluge that is an active chat. But if they could post responses or questions quickly and anonymously, wouldn’t that encourage expression?

In the past, I liked using because you could post as if on a bulletin board. It mirrors the in-person Parking Lot or Jigsaw activity, with participants actively reading one another’s comments and responding. When Google Jamboard began a month ago, I was excited to use it as an easy add-on to Google Meets.


Creating a new Jamboard is as easy as selecting the option during a Google Meet or going to and clicking on the + button in the bottom right-hand corner.  Give the board a title and set up the activity with a question or directions.

You can write with a pen or add a textbox, but I like the sticky note because you can select the background color. Make the board public by going to the Share option and allowing anyone to Edit. By sharing the link, students or teachers during a workshop can select a sticky note to post their response.

Sorting/Categorizing Activities

The Jamboard set-up allows for fun learning activities like sorting and categorization.  For example, during a workshop I gave on understanding bias, I added a scale image with Propaganda on one end and Factual Information on the other.  I created pre-set sticky notes with examples such as an article on climate change from Wikipedia, the Plandemic video, to the website, Children’s Health Defense. Participants categorized the examples according to their interpretation of its bias and moved them along the spectrum accordingly. If they didn’t know what the source was about, they had the opportunity to read laterally about it on Google. If doing this activity with students, allow them time to investigate each source’s information, and then apply their newfound knowledge and understanding of bias to sort the examples. Use this same activity to arrange events on a timeline, categorize pro/con sources, match terms to definitions; the possibilities are endless.

Color-coded Responses

Another option is to have students work in groups for a Jigsaw activity. They research an aspect of their topic and report back with color-coded notes. Or post an image for a visual literacy lesson by having students work in small groups to examine a particular image element (color, point-of-view, graphics, symbols) with color-coded responses (any point-of-view response in blue, etc.).

Critical Thinking

Have students post color-coded responses to a quote or image of an article excerpt to make inferences, draw conclusions, identify multiple points-of-view, discern facts from opinions or causes and effects, give labels to different forms of evidence, and on and on to allow students to demonstrate their learning and thinking in real-time with their classmates.

Creating Multiple Jamboards in One 

It is easy to create multiple boards under the same topic by clicking at the arrow on top:

Use this feature to create multiple learning activities on the same topic that allows our students to build knowledge and understanding, collaboration, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills while having fun interacting in a colorful, real-time manner.


Author: Leanne Ellis

I am a School Library Coordinator for the New York City Department of Education’s Department of Library Services. I plan and deliver workshops, provide on-site instructional and program support to school librarians, coordinate programs, administer grants, and am program coordinator for MyLibraryNYC, a program administered with our three public library systems.

Categories: Blog Topics, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models

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