Georgia Boatman, a teacher at Southgate Elementary School in Kennewick, Washington, wanted to increase student participation in her classroom, particularly that of students with disabilities. In collaboration with DO-IT's AccessSTEM project, she acquired an interactive learning tool the Classroom Performance System (CPS) using funds from an AccessSTEM minigrant.
The CPS provides each student with a hand-held device, which enables them to respond to questions posed by the instructor. Responses are transmitted wirelessly from the hand-held device to the teacher's computer. Since responses to questions do not need to be given aloud, the student does not need to worry about being embarrassed in front of classmates. This real-time feedback provides instant information to the teacher, giving the teacher the ability to see if students are grasping concepts and are ready to move to the next lesson.
Ms. Boatman's use of the interactive learning tool increased classroom participation. Rather than just one student responding to a question posed, all students had a chance to respond. She specifically noted an increase in the participation of students whose disabilities limited quick oral or written responses. But, for Ms. Boatman, how she used the student responses had the greatest impact on her classroom and teaching style. The technology allowed Ms. Boatman to quickly ascertain whether her students were understanding key concepts and gaining knowledge as she was presenting the material. With this input, she could immediately adjust her instruction when the student responses indicated that her current strategy was not effective. After thirty years in the classroom, she said that the CPS provided her with the most beneficial feedback she'd ever received. She added that when she adjusted her instruction to clarify for a few, the whole class developed a deeper understanding of the concept.
Using this technology as a tool to drive instruction is a promising practice. Feedback received during the learning sessions was immediately used to adapt instruction strategies to meet all learning needs.
AccessSTEM minigrants were funded under The Alliance for Students with Disabilities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (AccessSTEM, Research in Disabilities Education award # HRD-0227995).