Brewer to make use of iWalkthrough program

Posted Aug. 17, 2010, at 10:50 p.m.

BREWER, Maine — Observe, analyze, compare, collaborate and improve. Those are the steps of the Internet-based iWalkthrough program, which the Brewer School Committee discussed and endorsed Monday.

“Research has shown that we really need to get into more classrooms” to learn “what are the predominant teaching styles,” Superintendent Daniel Lee said.

The iWalkthrough program is designed for teachers and administrators to assess the methods of fellow educators and aims to get them talking about the best ways to educate.

During brief, three- or four-minute observations, educators record the instructional characteristics they see and upload the data to a website using cell phones or other Internet-connecting devises.

“This is not an evaluation system,” Lee said. “What we’re trying to do is generate a discussion.”

Great Schools Partnership, a nonprofit school support project sponsored by the Mitchell Institute, is providing the funds to offer the program in Brewer and to purchase 12 Web-ready personal digital assistants, or PDAs, that can be used to do the quick assessments.

“How can we better reach children?” is the question the program seeks to answer, Lee said. “What are we doing now and what is the most effective way to reach kids?”

The collected data will be put into tables to be analyzed by Brewer educators and also compared to other schools, Lee said.

“I think it’s something the teachers are really going to like,” Brewer Elementary School Principal Janet McIntosh said. “This is just a really good way to gather information. It is so easy to do.”

Becky Bubar, Brewer High School principal, told school board members the program also could be customized to meet Brewer’s needs.

“We’re hoping it will generate discussion about things we do in the classroom,” Lee said.

Under development is an athletic version of the iWalkthrough system, he said.

During Monday’s meeting, the school board also:

• Accepted four new policies dealing with displaying the flag, patriotic exercises, and accepting grants and public gifts and donations. A fifth policy was revised to require written referrals for individual education plans.

• Heard that Kevin Forest, an employee of ExxonMobil, volunteered 28 hours of his time at schools in Brewer and through the ExxonMobil Volunteer Involvement Program earned $500 for the school department.

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