User Stories | April 20, 2017

Enhancing Book Clubs With Swivl’s Multi-Camera Feature by Ashley Nicol

My students are currently all in book clubs, reading and discussing various novels, but with statewide assessments the three days previous, I had not been able to meet with any groups that week. My higher reading groups also do not meet with me as frequently as some of my other students, so I often do not know what they are specifically discussing. It was these reasons that prompted me to try the Multi-Camera feature for the first time. We started off the lesson well; groups were formed, iPads distributed, and everyone successfully joined the session I created. But that’s when the questions started! Was the master iPad recording, too? What should a group do when they finished their video but others were still working? How loudly did students need to speak in order for their ideas to be heard on the video? All the questions I hadn’t considered before the lesson came cropping up.

As a STEM ambassador to my building, I knew we’d need to practice what I preach: If you don’t know, problem solve until you figure it out. And so we did! We worked through all the bugs, from how to end a recording session to whether or not a group could stop recording and then sign back in to video some more content. There was lots to laugh about when I watched the videos later as we all worked together to figure out the technology. However, the parts we got right were pure gold.

For this particular lesson, I had set no guidelines other than students should meet together and discuss their books. I was curious to see what students would choose to talk about and which of the many reading skills we’ve been practicing all year they would employ. On video, I enjoyed discussions that ranged from what a brick fireplace is to how students were so excited about their story, they had to read ahead a few pages. One group took a picture walk and made predictions for the novel they just started, Caddie Woodlawn. Another group that met with me tried to settle on a theme for Sign of the Beaver. I watched as when one group discussion was running out of steam, the girls worked together to brainstorm additional discussion questions they could talk about. Students took turns sharing and kept each other on track. They asked good questions and tried to help one another capture the meaning of unfamiliar words. Knowing I would “listen in” on every conversation later and really cared about what each group would have to say seemed to encourage students to push themselves and dig deeper. I noticed discussions lasted longer than usual and seemed to cover more content.

Professionally, this was a great experience as well. I was able to discuss my maiden voyage with a coworker who is also using Swivl. She has been using the Swivl products and features longer than I have, so it was nice to know I had support and could see some of the things she had done with Multi-Camera before trying it myself. I also appreciated being able to see myself on camera. One book club had not completed their page goal so when I watched the video of that group, I was glad to hear that I spoke to them firmly about goal setting and expectations, but not in a rude or demeaning way.

With my new wide angle lenses and this experience under my belt, we look forward to using Swivl features again soon!

Inspired by Ashley’s experience? Apply to become a Swivl Pioneer!

Ashley Nicol has been teaching for 7 years at Caro Community Schools, which is located in the Thumb of Michigan.  She is a graduate of Saginaw Valley State University, with an elementary major and endorsements in Science and Social Studies.  Currently a fifth grade teacher, Ashley has previously taught in 2nd grade as well.  She serves as a building technology coach and advisor for an after school simple robotics and computer coding club. Check out Ashley’s Swivl Pioneer page, and follow her on Twitter