This weeks blog post assignment took me to some websites that are part of Alabama's emerging initiatives in education. The first one I visited was the Alabama Learning Exchange (ALEX). The first tab I clicked on was Courses of Study. I checked out the English Language Arts section for 2nd graders since my son is in the 2nd grade. I saw that there were resources for teachers to use in creating lesson plans and a page that informs visitors to the site what the 2nd grade students should be learning in a 2nd grade English Language Arts forum. I could immediately see how great this resource is. It is a way for teachers to coordinate lessons and parents to see what is expected of their children (I don't know if the parents were anticipated but I checked out the curriculum for my 2nd grader).. I explored a little further and found other tabs to click on like Web Links, Lesson Plans, Search, Personal Workspace, Professional Learning, Podcast Treasury, and Alexville. Some of these tabs titles are self explanatory and the one called Alexville is a resource for educators to learn!
ALEX is a web tool for teachers to expedite the acquisition of quality and relevant teaching materials. I think it is awesome.
Another tool that I researched this week was the Alabama Connecting Classroom, Educators, and Students (ACESS). Instead of going directly to the website I googled it and read a couple of articles to find out just what this tool was for. The first I read was published 11-8-06 on the Coffeeville High School web site. This article describes ACESS as an initiative that allows students at their school to participate in courses they do not have available at their own school via the internet and networking. The article described ACESS as a "... 21st century approach to learning by implementing two parallel models of distance learning-Internet Videoconferencing and web-based course delivery..."
Another Article that was helpful in elaborating on my understanding of ACESS was published by the Alabama Supercomputer Authority. This article describes ACESS as ".... a pilot project that is poised to become a major force in Alabama education." This article was a bit more technical but both describe it as a great tool for giving students access to material and courses they would not have had the opportunity to utilize with out the project.
When I visited the actual ACESS page I saw that it was similar to the online course log in page I use for my online college courses. This is yet another tool to get more quality education into the lives of Alabama's students.
I can certainly see the usefulness of these two excellent web tools. The applications are many. Even homebound students can benefit. Not to mention the idea came to me how this may prevent some students from dropping out. Many older students with out parents at home that support them in their education (and this is sadly a common case) have already got too many excuses for dropping out of school. Curriculum devoid of diversity and interesting applicable courses can certainly be a contributing factor.
These types of tools can help students stay engaged and make the most of their time. Both of these resources appear to have a direct relationship to student achievement in the sense that they make it easier for teachers to provide quality lessons that are directly connected to the curriculum that the state requires them to use. And they also make more programs available to students that are engaging and life enhancing in nature.
I am excited to see there are programs such as this coming in to play in our state's education system. Our teachers and students deserve the best of what there is to offer regarding teaching and learning. I am glad to see there are programs like these that provide it for them.