New technology in the classrooms at Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton (SHS) helped teachers adapt quickly during the pandemic, from fully remote learning environments to hybrid classrooms, where some students learned from home.
From applications like Kahoot! and Nearpod that encouraged and streamlined participation for students, to headset microphones that saved teachers’ voices as they wore masks, one tool stood out in the SHS kindergarten classrooms: Zoom TVs.
First implemented in January, the large screens served to connect students in hybrid settings. In-classroom document cameras captured detailed projects up close, connected to the projector, and shared on Zoom. “It was great for those kids who needed to see the same exact view at home and still get to participate,” said SHS kindergarten teacher Whitney Infelise. “We also were able to allow Zoom partner work, with one student in the classroom and one at home.”
Soon after adopting the technology, kindergarten teachers began utilizing the TVs to increase learning opportunities—methods that will continue well beyond the pandemic.
Pre-pandemic, heritage presentations were a popular lesson in which parents were invited to join their child to share about the family’s cultural heritage with the class.
“That’s when the magic with Zoom TV really started,” said Cristina Paredes-Murrell, academic technology coordinator at SHS. “Teachers thought, ‘If we can’t invite parents to come here in person, they can still come through Zoom.’”
“The kids were also more active as leaders when their parents were Zooming in remotely, rather than sitting in the classroom next to them,” said Infelise. “It was a leadership moment—we had kids demonstrating, showing things on posters while the parents were talking, one student performed a ribbon dance; it was great.”
Along with individual family heritage presentations, birthdays and holidays were also celebrated on Zoom TV. “For Lunar New Year, parents created a film with an activity so students could create a painting of the Ox, and for St. Patrick’s Day, we had one family teach the class—so Zoom was a way to continue these celebrations,” said Infelise.
“There’s definitely an opportunity in the future to have relatives who live far away join in, time zone permitting,” she added. “We had one student last year in Japan who would Zoom in; it’s also a way to improve parent-teacher communication and get to know the kids better, and what their home life is like, or if one parent is at work, Zoom is a way that they can still participate.”
Paredes-Murrell noted that more cross-grade interactions were possible, especially with events like guest author speakers that in the past would have been limited to small in-person groups by grade.
“That was fantastic. We didn’t have limitations [on guest size] so kindergarteners were able to join author visit sessions hosted by the library. The librarian, some teachers, and some parents in the Lower School contacted the special guests—we had three authors in the spring—and pretty much everyone was there. I think it was a huge success.”