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  • Writer's pictureChloe Romeo

Whiteboard.fi or Google Jamboard?

Updated: Jan 14, 2021

Interested in using these popular digital whiteboards in the classroom but don't know which to choose and how to get started? You came to the right place!



My Love of Whiteboards

If you have ever used "old-fashioned" analog whiteboards in your classroom, then you know the joy that they can bring to students, and to you, the teacher! Pulling out the whiteboards was always an instant engagement tool in my classroom, and ensured that each student was actively participating in the learning. Plus, they allowed me to quickly and easily assess my students' understanding of a concept, on the fly! I loved using whiteboards as a learning tool despite the occasional arguments between students over the "good whiteboards," the mystery of the lost marker caps (which led to constant and costly marker replacements), and the challenge of getting students to use erasers instead of their hands or clothes.


Enter the DIGITAL WHITEBOARD! "New-age" digital whiteboards certainly alleviate these issues (though they come with a separate set of possible set-backs, that I will explain later). The creative possibilities for using digital whiteboards as a learning tool are endless. They are practical, super engaging tools that can be especially effective in online, synchronous learning environments, and what's not to love about that?



Whiteboard.fi or Google Jamboard?

There are a slew of digital whiteboards available online, geared towards teachers and students, most of which are free. Two popular options are Whiteboard.fi and Google Jamboard. Which one should you use? Well that depends on your PURPOSE for using a whiteboard in the first place.

  • If your purpose is to formatively assess students during synchronous lessons, Whiteboard.fi will be your best bet.

  • Doing an activity that calls for real-time collaboration? Then, use Google Jamboard!

It's also helpful to know that with Whiteboard.fi each student, and the teacher, has their own whiteboard; think "individual whiteboards."

Whiteboard.fi
Whiteboard.fi provides individual whiteboards!

However, with Google Jamboard there is just one whiteboard that all students and the teacher are accessing to share ideas; think "collaborative whiteboard."

Jamboard is a shared space to work with others!


What You'll Love

With Whiteboard.fi you will know that all students are actively participating, because you see all of their whiteboards in real time! The students only see the teacher's whiteboard, and their own, but not their peers'. So you'll know right away whether students are grasping the concepts or struggling. Want to show student work or spark conversation? No problem! Click the button to hide student names and share your screen to display all boards anonymously. Want to model a math problem and then have students complete one on their own? Use the "Push" feature to send what's on your whiteboard out to all student boards. Another click of a button clears all student boards for a clean slate. Having students submit exit tickets at the end of a lesson? Easily download and save all student boards in a PDF!


whiteboards
Teacher view of student whiteboards

Students enjoy using Google Jamboard because it gives them a sense of community. They love seeing what classmates are posting in real time and being able to interact with one another on the board. This tool makes collaborative activities much easier in a distance-learning environment. Want a student-created KWL chart to kick off your science lesson? Introduce the topic and have students add a sticky note to the board in the K, W, or L columns! These are amazing catalysts for meaningful class discussions. Keep in mind that students don't necessarily need to access the Jam simultaneously, though. It works perfectly fine as an asynchronous tool, as well. The look and feel of Jamboard is simple and will be easy for students to use. The Jamboard can also be saved as an image or PDF to capture the learning.


jam
Students post sticky notes to contribute ideas

Instructional Ideas

As I mentioned before, the creative possibilities with these two tools are endless! Additionally, if you are looking for ideas or ready-made activities, do a quick internet search or visit teacherspayteachers.com to see how other teachers are using these tools with students. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:


Whiteboard.fi:

  • Problem solving: Model a problem and then monitor student boards as they solve one on their own.

  • Place Value practice: Read a number aloud and have students write it in number or word form on their boards before revealing your board with the correct answer. Or, show your number and have students write it in word form, expanded form, etc.

  • Word Work: Read a letter or word aloud and have students write the letter, beginning letter sound, or spell out the word. Or, push out a word to students and have them break it into syllables. Push out a sentence and have students diagram it, circling or underlining the subject and predicate, etc.

  • Labeled Diagrams: Push out a science image and have students label the parts.

  • SEL Check-In: Ask students to draw or write how they are feeling that day.

  • Exit Tickets: Push out an exit ticket problem to students and have them complete it. Save all whiteboards as a PDF to keep record!

Google Jamboard:

  • Number Talks: Add a number to the Jam and have students add sticky notes, drawings or images explaining ways to represent, or decompose that number.

  • Chalk Talks: Add a thought=provoking question to the board and have students respond to the question, and interact with each other by leaving comments for peers, circling or starring things they agree with, or asking questions to engage peers in conversation.

  • Survey the class: Create a grid on the Jam, and give each square a number that corresponds to students' classroom numbers. Ask a question and have students respond by placing a sticky note with their answer in their numbered square. These are great for pre- and post-lesson check-ins or exit tickets. SEL Check-ins can be done this way, as well.

  • Graphic Organizers: Create KWL charts, or Venn Diagrams to have students share learning or compare and contrast concepts.


Things to Consider

As with any digital tool, there are a few things that you should be aware of before deciding whether it is right for you and your students. Here are a few of those to consider:


  • Both tools are super easy to access and share with students. With Whiteboard.fi, students can be given the link or QR code to your Whiteboard class, or they can visit the website and login with the given room code. With Jamboard, the teacher will share the link, making sure that "anyone on the internet with this link can edit" is selected before sharing. Students can access these tools on any internet-connected device, but users will need the Jamboard app to access Jams on a tablet or phone.

  • If students are using either whiteboard from a touch-screen device, using a stylus will make their work much easier. Younger students especially will benefit from the use of a stylus. There are inexpensive sets of styluses available on Amazon.com.

  • With both tools, students can accidentally (or purposefully) erase or delete things shared by the teacher. With Jam, they can erase things shared on the board by other students, as well. This will require some conversations and expectations being set about appropriate use of the tools. With Whiteboard.fi, the teacher can flatten the image on her board (making it a background image) before pushing it out to students so they can write on top of the shared image. This can similarly be done with Jamboard, by setting an image as the background, but sticky notes or other items shared on top of the background can still be manipulated, or deleted by students.

  • Student accounts are not needed for either tool, so students will be somewhat "anonymous." On Whiteboard.fi students are asked to enter their names, but on Jamboard students will appear as anonymous antelope, or some other animal. But, if students have Gmail accounts, or Google Classroom, and are logged in, their actual names will appear.

  • Jams can be assigned as non-collaborative, individual assignments through Google Classroom.


Ready to Rock?

If you're anything like myself, then you will be excited to rush back to your classroom and start using both of these tools, each for its distinct purposes, right away. But please, BABY STEPS! I wouldn't suggest implementing both of these tools at the same time, especially if you (or your students) are just learning about them. Try one out first, and allow time for you and your students to become comfortable with it before deciding to add the other one to the mix! Remember, sometimes less is more! I hope that you and your students will enjoy the newfound excitement that will surely fill your classrooms as you begin to incorporate whiteboard activities into your daily instruction.


I'd love to hear your comments about how you are using these tools in your classroom!





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