Payson Teacher Spins Award-Winning Web

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If it is possible to get tired of winning awards, Payson High School English teacher Joe Pauley must be downright exhausted.

Late last year, the Internet site he created to enhance the education of his 11th- and 12th-grade students scooped up one award from the Webmaster's Association of America for its design, navigation and ease-of-use.

And then Pauley's site copped top honors from The Teacher's Corner, an online entity that recognizes education-based Internet sites that are visually attractive, easy to navigate, and feature interesting content that teachers would find useful.

On top of that, Pauley learned just last week that he'd been nominated Teacher of the Year by the Arizona Technology in Education Alliance (AzTEA), a professional organization devoted to technology in education and the learning/teaching process ... only to be told this week that he had won the award, which he'll receive Wednesday at a special presentation at Arizona State University.

To understand why Pauley is getting all of this attention, one must only fire up a nearby computer and visit www.phsenglish.com, his classroom Web site.

Through this 30-megabyte electronic schoolroom, Pauley's students can access just about any information they need, not only to get through high school, but to launch their post-high school lives.

"The Web site had to be able to effectively facilitate preexisting curriculum without compromising that curriculum," Pauley said. "In other words, I don't believe you should be teaching technology for technology's sake in an English-class setting. If it in any way compromises the English curriculum, then it is not an effective use of those technologies."

That's Pauley's long answer. Here's his shorter, clearer, layman's answer:

"The whole idea is to best prepare our students for life outside of Payson."

To that end, students only need to punch one or two computer keys to see their grades, which are updated weekly ... a calendar of assignments that will be due ... an interactive discussion forum ... general announcements ... a quote generator that tosses out a new historical quote every six seconds ... SAT requirements of various universities ... university and career research and applications ... general study habit tips ... literature resources relating to the work that's covered in class ... and individual sub-Web sites with their own topics. Those topics include one dedicated to public speaking, which boasts glossaries, countless links to related sites, debate strategies and tips, as well as sound and text files containing a number of famous speeches.

Pauley began developing the Web site during his first year as a PHS teacher in 1999.

"The concept essentially came from my experience with technology at ASU, and six years of programming experience where I did Web site construction for hospitals and real estate firms," he said.

The technology that he learned in those earlier jobs, Pauley said, is now in the process of changing the face of education like no other force before it.

"The Internet has provided a wealth of access to information across the board, which has, of course, benefited all areas of curriculum," he observed. "It's provided additional ways for people to communicate, whether it be student-to-student, student-to-teacher, class-to-class or school-to-school.

"It also allows a medium of communication that is less inhibitory for students of a shy disposition. In the current mode of computer technology, they are much more prone to expressing their thoughts and ideas."

But that's hardly as far as technology will take Joe Pauley, his students or anyone else involved in giving or receiving an education, the Teacher of the Year predicted.

"I foresee that technology will become a part of every stage of the education process, from kindergarten on up if for no other reason than the multitude of possibilities it offers over what can be offered in a traditional setting."

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