CPS and Learning by Remote
by Dean K. Boyd
"Mr. Boyd, are we using the remote thingy today?" came the question as I greeted my fourth grade students on a busy school morning in late February. The "remote thingy" as labeled by my pupil is the Classroom Performance System. This piece of technology, introduced to me by a fellow colleague and purchased by my school district less than a year ago from eInstruction, has given me some wonderful insights into my students' learning as well as freed up some of my valuable teaching time. The Classroom Performance System, or CPS for short, allows all of my students to respond to either objective or subjective questions without feeling the threat of being incorrect in front of their peers. To enter answers into the system's software, each student is given a wireless remote pad, thus the description "remote thingy." The questions are either viewed by the entire class from a projected computer screen or individually from a paper format located at the student's desk.
Because students are reading the questions, thinking critically about the answers, and selecting responses, they are learning engaged. As the teacher, I get immediate feedback as to how the students are performing on the overall goal of the lesson. For example, in my language arts classroom, students need frequent practice with building their vocabulary. To meet this need, I create a list of vocabulary words complete with short definitions for each term in the CPS's extensive question builder. During my vocabulary lesson, the questions are delivered to the class. As each student reads the question, selects an answer, and "sends in" his own response via the remote control, CPS grades and records all of the information. As my lesson continues, I am able to monitor on the CPS display those students who have responded to the question, and more importantly, observe how well or how poorly the class is performing. In my past experiences, it was a guessing game as to how well the lesson was impacting a child's critical thinking. Now, I don't have to hesitate in my hypothesis. If the CPS system, for example, shows the entire class receiving a 98% on the question, then I understand that the selected word is already a part of the students' vocabulary, and I can move on to the next part of the lesson. However, if a much lower score is reported, then I know to spend some time with the class teaching the new word, making it a part of their vocabulary. Just imagine, as you teach, recognizing what your students have already comprehended and being able to move on to other aspects of the lesson. Imagine, as you teach, knowing that your students need to spend more time understanding a certain concept and taking the opportunity to strengthen their knowledge.
With the CPS system, I no longer have to wait for a free moment or until after class to grade a child's paper to see how well, or if the case may be, how poorly they performed on the lesson's objective. Because the grading takes place instantaneously and the results are simultaneously recorded in CPS's grade book, my stacks of "to-be-graded" papers are reduced drastically. I can then use my time evaluating a child's compositional writing and working with his reading skills, something I find to be most crucial in the language arts classroom. I also have the ability to create a record of the student's overall achievement to share with my administrators and his parents. Reports can be exported to Excel, Word, other grade books and other documents. Review work for those students who struggle with a specific learning objective can be easily printed for ready use in tutorials or as homework.
One other important feature provided by the CPS system is its capability in creating the lesson. In about the same amount of time it takes to generate a lesson in any word processing program, I can produce the equivalent in CPS's software and, if I so desire, reproduce it on paper. The questions can be formatted to include up to five multiple choices, true and false responses, and yes and no answers. Since grading assignments and recording scores are no longer necessary, the time "up front" in constructing the lesson is all that is needed.
Technology that engages my students, provides me with quick and valuable evaluations, and allows me to spend more time with my students and their writing and reading goals is precisely the type of technology I need in my language arts classroom. So how did I answer my pupil asking to use the "remote thingy" today? "Yes, we are indeed! And tomorrow as well!"
The CPS system by eInstruction can be view at www.eInstruction.com
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