It’s not often that students are happy when they get more work, but that’s exactly what happened when Diane Fenley dropped by some math problems for Judy Newsom’s third-grade class at Sunset Elementary.

These weren’t just problems in workbooks, though. These were problems they work on in their eInstruction Classroom Performance System.

“When she installed more work for us on it, we all cheered,” said Jake Chenger, a student in Newsom’s class. Fenley is an instructional technology consultant for Edmond Public Schools.

The Classroom Performance System, or CPS, is definitely a departure from the chalk and chalkboard. Using the CPS, teachers can post a problem for the students and let them answer questions by pressing buttons on a small “clicker” instead of answering the problems on a worksheet.

“The kids ask to use them,” Newsom said. “They like to use them. They even ask to use them when they have to stay inside during recess time.”

In addition to the CPS, Newsom recently also started using a SMART Sympodium, a projection device that allows her to display the problems on a large screen instead of on a television.

The Sympodium also allows the teacher and students to use a special pen to interact with whatever is being displayed on the screen.

Newsom uses the CPS and Sympodium to display a problem, and then students answer using their clickers. After everyone has answered, the system displays how many students got the problem right and how many got the problem wrong.

Teachers also can give questions verbally. Newsom is currently teaching students the difference between fact and opinion by reading a statement and having the students press one button if it is an opinion and another button if it is a fact.

Newsom is able to see which students missed the problem, although the students can’t. Often, she’ll ask what the people who missed the question did wrong.

Other times, she’ll explain the problem again, or have a student who missed it work it out on the chalkboard.

As an example, Newsom talked about some recent sessions her class had.

“Everyone made a 100 percent on grammar this morning,” she said Wednesday. The class followed that up with an afternoon math session where the lowest score was 92 percent.

Newsom said the unit helps her know when her class is prepared for tests as well.

“I know they can do it because they can do it with the clickers,” she said.

Logan Swaner, a teacher in Newsom’s class, said the CPS made learning a lot

easier.

“They’re fun to use,” he said. “If you write down on pencil and paper — it’s sometimes hard to do that instead of just pushing a

button.”

Madison Myers agreed with Swaner.

“I think they’re awesome,” she said. “It’s an easier way to do it instead of using a worksheet.”

Currently, Edmond Public Schools has four CPS units — at a cost of about $1,500 apiece — that rotate in the elementary schools.

The units are catching on in high schools as well — Edmond North currently has one and Edmond Santa Fe has one on order.

Each school in the district has its own Sympodium that is shared among the teachers. The Sympodium is $1,900 each.

Newsom said she expects interest in the CPS to keep increasing.

“The clickers are the best thing I have seen,” she said. “Any time they’re not checked out, I want them. Once teachers really start using them, they’ll want to use them more.”

So while students still can do all their work with pencils and workbooks, the CPS units are showing how technology can help students learn.

“The chalkboard is fine, but this is so different,” Newsom said. “Anything you do with computers, it catches their interest.”

(Education Reporter Justin Martino may be reached via e-mail at jmartino@edmondsun.com.)

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