WASHINGTON D.C., DC — The coronavirus pandemic emptied Tara Swartz's 5th grade classroom in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her students are spread out in various places now, connecting with their teacher via Zoom teleconference. Her 26 students now come to class through 26 little squares on Mrs. Swartz's laptop screen.
Her teaching style, and the classroom experience was forced into a new normal. So, after watching a Dodgers game on television, Swartz was inspired by the life-size fan cutouts in the stadium seats. She decided to get creative.
"At the baseball games you see the cardboard cutouts in the background...we thought that's a great idea. What if we did that with the kids? They'll get to see themselves and we'll get to see them," Swartz said.
So she got to work, asking parents to take pictures of her students in front of a white background. Swartz had the images enlarged and printed, and then cut them out and attached them to wooded supports. Her life-sized cutout classroom came alive.
Now, when students attend class via web-conference, they see their life-sized images at the desks staring back at them. It seems to connect the students to the classroom, and creates an interesting experience. Swartz made sure to choose photos that captured each student's personality, she said.
"I really like it," one of her students remarked. Another said, "I think it's so creative and so cute."
The passion Mrs. Swartz has for her classroom shows. She said, "It means so much," Swartz said, "I'm so filled with joy to be their teacher," as she became emotional.