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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas


Tuesday, February 5, 2002

PHS graduate wins national title

as ed tech leader of the year 2001

Gayle Britt, daughter of Elvia and Norma Gene Reynolds, was named Ed Tech Leader of the Year for 2001, by Technology & Learning Magazine.

She teaches social studies/language arts in Central Middle School, San Carlos, Calif.

The Pecos native was invited to give a presentation on electronic portfolios to the National School Board Association conference in Dallas next November.

"I am thinking about it," she told Dr. Reynolds. "I must let them know by Febuary 1."

Britt said she gave the presentation in her school to a standing room only crowd recently.

"It wasn't that I was so great, but it was a topic of great interest: electronic portfolios. Seems like many schools are requiring them, but teachers have never done them," she said.

"I did them last year so I can show what my students did and tell about my experience. I was able to tell them what worked and what didn't work. I will do the same presentation twice in March," Britt said.

T&L Magazine reported on their web site that Britt is one of a handful of educators named Leaders of the Year.

"In discussing her philosophy about education, Gayle Britt paraphrases a challenge posed by Georgia Tech professor Janet Murray: How do we turn an increase in information into an advance in human knowledge?

"For Britt, who teaches seventh-grade social studies and language arts, this question strikes at the heart of how technology should be used to enhance education.

"She ought to know. In the past decade, she has infused a project-based, multimedia-rich learning culture into her classroom and school, all the while determinedly broadening her own educational horizons.

`Britt has always been naturally curious. Raised in a small town in west Texas, she yearned to get out and see the world, so after college she taught English in Japan for five years. Upon her return, she got her credential and began teaching in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she gradually gained an interest in technology through a series of experiences: toying around with one of the first Macintoshes in 1984; taking a HyperCard class a few years later; and finally, being part of a Challenge 2000 grant that provided her with extensive training and support on how to integrate project-based learning with multimedia in the classroom.

"To say that Britt embraced project-based learning is an understatement. Since the Challenge grant, she has designed a body of curricula that is exceptionally creative and thought provoking, from an interdisciplinary study on the effects of the bubonic plague to a visual exploration of world religions.

In a project that took home an award from the California Student Media and Multimedia Festival, Britt's students replicated pieces of Asian art and researched the history of their "artifacts" on the Web. Students then went to work with video cameras and multimedia software to create presentations in the show-and-tell style of PBS's popular "Antiques Roadshow."

`Britt's success with project-based learning has been an inspiration to both students and teachers. Under her tutelage, many of her colleagues are now incorporating simulations, digital photography, and other ultimedia components into their lessons.

"This spirit of collaboration is also reflected in Britt's Web site, which in addition to providing weekly assignments, rubrics, and student portfolios, also encourages students to think critically through the lively debate and exchange of ideas. A notable example of this is Britt's weekly "radio show."

"Inspired by the tradition of weekly radio addresses given by presidents, every Tuesday Britt posts an audio question on her site that students can answer for extra credit. There's also a password-protected forum where students can go to discuss with their peers the questions raised in the radio address, or talk about group projects. Past projects include one in which Britt's students used the forum to exchange bilingual biographies with students in Japan.

"In addition to her regular teaching duties, Britt offers a class on multimedia design at a local community college, serves as an online instructor of professional development for software company Classroom connect, and mentors 16 teachers in her district on the nuances of project-based learning.

"Britt does all this in addition to pursuing an online master's in educational technology from Pepperdine University."

Britt's nephew, Randall Reynolds, is also attending Pepperdine University on a scholarship.

"All of these pursuits let me help other teachers, but they also help me examine my own teaching and keep improving," Britt says.

"Britt's seeking nature-her relentless quest to increase her knowledge through experience and through reflection-is driven by her belief that there is always something to learn," the article continues.

"I'm interested in everything, and I know enough to know how much more there is to learn," she says. Britt's openness to new experiences and her determination to share her knowledge with students and peers are qualities that make her an innovator, a dynamic teacher, and above all, a leader.

Graham on Dean's List at West Point

Cadet Randall Tye Graham, son of Randy and Leslie Graham of Pecos, was named to the Dean's List at the U.S. Military Academy.

To qualify for the Dean's List, a cadet must maintain a 3.0 grade point average.

Graham graduated from Pecos High School in 1999. He is concentrating his studies in European history and environmental engineering and plans to graduate from West Point in 2003 and be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

Founded on March 16, 1802, the academy celebrates its Bicentennial this year.

The mission of the U.S. Military Academy is to educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country; professional growth throughout a career as an officer in the United States Army; and a lifetime of selfless service to the Nation.

OC features special series

The Odessa College Student Art Space Series presents, "Honky-Tonk Hideaways" Feb. 4-28.

The exibit is a photo essay by art professor Barry Phillips the Elder that documents area taverns, many of which are closed or abandoned. Phillips created the pictures with a handheld Nikon 35 mm FG-20 camera outfitted with a 50 mm 1:1.8 lens and Kodacolor 400 film.

Student Art Space is located in Sedate Hall, Room 111. Gallery hours are 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

For more information, contact Barry Phillips the Elder at 335-6490.

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