View a selection of implementation strategies from educators who are successfully using ALEKS to achieve dramatic learning outcomes.
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Kotlik School, Lower Yukon School District
Grade(s): K - 12
Scenario: Computers in Classroom
Purpose: RtI, Enrichment/Gifted and Talented, Special Education, At-Risk Students
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 10-12%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 2-3 hours per week
ALEKS Course: Mathematics - LV 3 (with QuickTables), Mathematics - LV 4 (with QuickTables), Mathematics - LV 5 (with QuickTables), MS RtI Tier 3, Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, High School Geometry, PreCalculus, Trigonometry
Emily Poole, Special Education Teacher
I have purchased ALEKS for use with my students. I teach K-12 Special Education and I serve a wide range of students including at-risk, gifted, learning disabled (LD), and emotionally disabled (ED). I have targeted both elementary and high school students for whom I believe the program will have the greatest impact. With my LD students, I use ALEKS as a supplement to reinforce concepts already introduced in the classroom. With my at-risk and ED students, I use ALEKS to target holes in prior knowledge using the Response to Intervention (RtI) courses. With my gifted students (some of whom are also LD or ED), ALEKS allows me to move them through the curriculum to higher levels. One of the exciting things for me has been watching students begin to recognize their own ability. Being able to make choices about which topics to pursue, and being able to see the results as they complete each area, has been a great motivator. Even students not initially targeted have asked to be allowed to use the program. The best thing I can say about ALEKS is that it allows me the flexibility to meet all the various needs of my diverse students.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
Approximately 95 percent of our students are considered English Language Learners. Because of this language difficulty, all academic subjects, including math, are more difficult for our students.
How many days per week is class time dedicated to ALEKS?
3-5 days per week.
What is the average length of a class period when ALEKS is used?
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
I don't. I allow students to choose based on their Initial Assessment and current interest. Sometimes I will guide students toward topics I believe they will find more motivating at a particular time.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
I have only a few students at a time. As I work with a small group, I have one or two working on ALEKS; then I rotate through to other students.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
I didn't need to modify my approach, particularly. However, instead of having students work in books or on worksheets while I teach a different group, I can have some students working on the computer while I work with others.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
Most of my students do not have access to the Internet outside of school.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
I have demonstrated ALEKS to parents during parent-teacher conferences and shared student progress. They were very excited by the demonstration.
Is ALEKS assigned to your students as all or part of their homework responsibilities? If so, what part of the total homework load is it?
Because our students do not have access to the Internet, I do not require it as homework.
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
We do not use grades. We use a standards-based model. Students are moved from one level to the next when they have demonstrated mastery of specific standards. I use ALEKS as I would any other demonstration of student skills, and weigh it equally with projects whether book work or worksheets.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
I expect the students to work at least 20 minutes during each class period they have access. If I observe a student beginning but not completing topics, I will reteach those topics away from the computer and then assist the student in working through the topic again on ALEKS. Otherwise, I generally expect a minimum of two topics per period.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
I have only been using ALEKS for about a month, but already I have seen success. I have had students not initially targeted ask to be allowed to use the program. I have also had students who previously balked at math who are now willing to work through entire class periods. I have seen my gifted LD student begin to catch up to his potential. One of the exciting things for me has been watching students begin to recognize their own ability. Being able to make choices about which topics to pursue, and being able to see the results as they complete each area, has been a great motivator. As I continue to utilize the program, I expect to see even greater levels of success.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
Keep an eye on what students are beginning but not completing. Some of my students will fail to read the text paired with a problem, and will give up on a topic they are able to complete. Teaching the students how to use the program and how to approach the reading tasks is important.