I love those odd, brainy people who give pieces of technology an acronym for a name. Especially one that is a proper name. Like KIT from Knight Rider. And ALEX.
But....Who is ALEX? Where is ALEX from? What does ALEX do? Why do I even care?
ALEX is new to the State of Alabama and its Department of Education. ALEX stands for Alabama Learning Exchange. Important assets of ALEX: Courses of Study, Web Links, Lesson Plans, Search engines, Personal Workspace, Professional Learning, Podcast Tresury, and Alexville.
Also, ALEX is so impressive that it was the recipient of the Digital Education Achievement Award two years in a row (2008-2009). The relevance of ALEX depends on what you are looking for. It has pretty much everything but let's look at it's fine qualities.
It's color-coordinated! And each one of the components I listed above has its own picture/button to take you to its separate page and I found this to be so organized and easy to use. This page is simple, clear, and uncluttered.
The Course of Study is useful because you can look up the subject you will be teaching, then the grade level, and everything you need to know is right before your eyes. I was very relieved at this because I searched for Alabama Course of Study in the past and had to download it as a PDF, if I remember correctly. ALEX has the course of study in a charted, easier to read form. Thank God.
ALEX's Web Resources are also useful. There are web resources like "Online Projects and Collaboration" for teachers, "Technology Funding" for Administrators, "Reference/Information Literacy" for students, as well as buttons to recommend or search for a web resource, among many other things. There are lots of links under the web resources and these are just a few!
What about Lesson Plans? How about search by subject and grade level and see what you think. I think this could help with making sure that you're lesson plans are age appropriate; you can use theirs or compare your own alongside them just to double check.
ALEX's "Personal Workspace" allows you to create a username and login so that you can add lesson plans and teacher web pages that you can keep track of or save for later use. You don't have to worry about bookmarks or anything; you can manage it all in this simple workspace.
Something I personally found to be very cool was the Podcast Treasury, Gallery 360. It has podcasts on various content areas, lists top downloads, gives helpful links, and features an "Alabama Showcase". Under the "links" section, I noticed that ALEX has a page on iTunes U!
How will ALEX help me in the future? What will ALEX mean to me as an educator?!
I especially liked that it was easy to navigate because this can save alot of time. I can also not only use the lesson plans and supplement my own with them, but I can use the Personal Workspace to plan it all out.
I also love the Podcast Treasury. It gave me so many ideas and I actually listened to one of them on "How to Write a Haiku" by Mrs. Hinds' Fourth Grade Class at Deer Valley Elementary. It got me thinking about Podcasts for own students. I then followed another link back on the Gallery 360 Alabama Podcast Treasury Page that informed me of the iChallenge Podcast Competition. The theme is Bullying. This actually took me back to my previous Blog Post #12 where one of the components was inspiring and motivating students. I believe it is important to spark discussion and deep thinking on important subjects in students, especially teenagers so that they can decide their stance on something themselves before someone tells them what to think. A subject like Bullying would be a good start since I think we would all agree that bullying is never ever a good thing. I think it also happens more than we realize. By getting kids to make a podcast about it, to really think on how it affects them, if they are doing this, and how they can stop the cycle of abuse, it could make a HUGE difference. It could mean one less kid shoved in a locker, harrassed on Facebook, or teased because of their weight. I think this is very important.
Now that I have stepped down off my soapbox, I would like to point out that ALEX's Gallery 360 has links to help with the production of a Podcast. I could not only assign my students a Podcast, but the instructions are right in front of their noses, hard to miss. They can follow the links "Create Your Own Podcast" and "How to Create a Podcast Submission" to get instructions on what ALEX might expect if they really wanted to win the contest. I might also offer an incentive as their wonderful and supportive teacher. :)
I would also offer these videos to my students (and you of course) to inspire thoughts on the topic of bullying.