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Posted: October 24, 2013 8:01 p.m.

ViewPath helping teachers, students

ViewPath Systems installed in Newton County’s secondary schools are helping the district to improve teacher effectiveness and student behavior, according to school district officials.

This year, the Newton County School System installed ViewPath, a fully integrated audio-video system, in all of its middle schools and high schools, at a cost of more than $2 million.

Newton High School served as a pilot school for the new system last school year, and the results prompted the Board of Education to have the technology installed at all of its secondary schools for the 2013-14 school year.

At Tuesday’s BOE meeting, Gary Shattuck, NCSS director of technology and media services, updated the Board on the progress of the ViewPath Systems.

And Melissa Jackson, NCSS instruction and technology coordinator, told the BOE that with ViewPath, teachers have ownership of the video cameras in their classroom. She demonstrated how the camera system works.

"When the teachers log in, they are the owners of their camera. So they actually have the ability to go in and add users, and to remove users. … If an administrator wants to be added into a teachers’ classroom, the teacher simply goes in and finds the administrator and they add them in," Jackson said.

"They (teachers) love their cameras in their classrooms," Jackson said. "It has been an amazing tool for teacher effectiveness. We have teachers who are sharing their videos and they are really learning a lot."

"I’m very pleased with the use," Shattuck said. "We’ve had some difficulties, but we’re working through those. Anything new, you’re going to have issues that you didn’t anticipate, and we’re working on solving those. So we’re very excited about the progress we’re making in ViewPath and the teachers use of it."

Shattuck also said the new ViewPath technology includes a Safari Montage program (the system where all video-content recorded by teachers in their classroom is stored).

He said there were 1,200 teacher logins into the Safari Montage system in July; 3,700 logins in August; 5,000 logins in September; and, as of Oct. 18, there were 3,000 logins into the system. He said October’s numbers were expected to increase. 

Jackson explained that teachers have also been using video recordings to show other teachers their recorded lessons through PLC’s (Professional Learning Communities in which teachers discuss their different teaching techniques); and to make sure their students are on task when teachers may not be in their classrooms.

Board Member Jeff Meadors asked if the cameras in the classroom were improving "on-task behavior." Jackson said the teachers she has talked with have said behavior has improved.

"The students don’t know when they are being recorded. All they know is that there is a camera there. So the kids think it is always recording. And the teacher is completely in control of that, and they could record all day long if they wanted to," Jackson said. 

Newton High School Principal Eclan David and Clements Middle School Principal Joy Scavella also told board members they’ve seen improved behavior since the installation of classroom cameras.

David explained an instance in which a student had misbehaved in class.

In a subsequent parent/teacher conference, "The teacher was able to play back and show the parents specifically what was taking place in the classroom.’’

At Clements, Principal Scavella said teachers are required to record their lessons using the ViewPath System in their classrooms for PLC’s.

She explained that through use of the camera systems along with the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support program implemented at the school last year, or PBIS (a schoolwide plan to focus on positive student behavior), Clements has seen a decrease in behavioral problems.  Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey noted that for the month of October 2012, around this time, Clements recorded close to 90 discipline referrals. She said there have been fewer than 10 for the month of October, to date, this year.

"That tells you that administrators are focusing on curriculum and instruction because they are not dealing with discipline problems," Fuhrey said.

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