View a selection of implementation strategies from educators who are successfully using ALEKS to achieve dramatic learning outcomes.
Chandler Elementary School, Goshen Community Schools
Grade(s): K - 5
Scenario: Computer Lab, Computers in Classroom, Laptop Carts
Purpose: Enrichment/Gifted and Talented, Summer School, At-Risk Students, Supplement
Time Spent in ALEKS: 1-2 hours per week
ALEKS Course: Mathematics - LV 5 (with QuickTables)
Daniel Longcor, Teacher
My first interactions with ALEKS started in a middle school summer school classroom. Normally the words "summer" and "school" combined for a middle school student don't spell success. So when my incoming at-risk seventh graders started showing progress, and more importantly motivation, I knew I had stumbled onto something. You can imagine my dismay when the following year, having moved schools and grade levels, I learned that we wouldn't have enough licenses for all of my students. How was I going to divide them up? My decision was made easier a few weeks into school. I had an English Language Learner cluster classroom, meaning 60 percent of my students were not native English speakers. I also had a mix of levels. I discovered one particular student who excels in math. In fact, when I went on the home visit for this student, the student's parents even said, "How are you going to address our child's needs in math?" My response began with, "Well, I have this computer program..." Once this student shows mastery with what we are working on in class, this student and about five others are free to get on ALEKS during math time until our next unit. Needless to say, they are constantly on ALEKS because they are succeeding in the program. By working ahead and gaining mastery of future content, they continually test out of what we're working on in class. ALEKS was the perfect solution to differentiate my classroom and to work one-on-one or in small groups with students who need extra support without having to worry about discipline problems or not helping all of my students.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
My two biggest challenges were motivation and teaching all students at their level or need. ALEKS takes care of both of these. I have a student that is almost ready to start working on the sixth grade level.
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?
How do you implement ALEKS?
I knew about ALEKS from using it at the middle school. The technology department told the administration about the program, and they had to decide how many licenses to purchase.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
No, I let the students choose.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
I have computers in the classroom that students, once they show me that they have mastery, are allowed to go work on.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
This was my first year teaching in the elementary setting, so I didn't have to modify much. I just made it a rotation or a self-contained/self-paced choice.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
As often as possible.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
Most parents have limited access to technology, so I have not had students get on ALEKS at home, aside from the few that can. However, getting parents onboard has been fairly simple. During the home visits, I explain what the program is, how students are allowed to work at their own pace, and how it challenges them at their level. They are sold after that.
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?
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
I don't. We're using a new mastery system, which is based on a number system. Three is the target, and four is above expectations. Because students are responsible for this learning goal, once they reach a three, they "have it" and move on. If the class needs extra time getting to the third level, that's when my ALEKS kids get rolling.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
No, because it is above and beyond what they are required to do.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
I have seen students who hated math work like mad to fill a piece of their pie. It's nice to know that when you have 27 students in your room, with 80 students in the grade level, there are 10-15 that can work independently on material that is at or above their level and they're challenged to push on.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
Just try it. I would recommend allowing student choice/practice. Make it a game, short and quick, in little bits. As you familiarize yourself with the program, you'll think of different ways to use it.