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Washington High School, Cedar Rapids Community Schools
Cedar Rapids, IA
Grade(s): 9 - 11
Scenario: Computer Lab
Purpose: Improve State Test Scores
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 10%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 3 hours per week, 30+ hours per term
ALEKS Course: Middle School Math Course 2, Middle School Math Course 3, Pre-Algebra, Foundations of High School Math
Dan Reyner, Teacher
When looking at the eleventh grade students who were placed in the remedial class as a result of obtaining a low score on the Iowa Test of Educational Development (ITED) last year, over 60 percent improved their scores this year after using ALEKS.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
We struggled to reach the lower-level students in a way that minimizes the homework aspect, yet covers the full range of material that they are lacking.
How many days per week is class time dedicated to ALEKS?
3 days per week.
What is the average length of a class period when ALEKS is used?
How do you implement ALEKS?
In addition to regular math classes, ALEKS is used for remediation classes.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
On days when we are using ALEKS, students use the first five minutes of class to set up their computers, log in, and select music (I allow them to listen to music while working; it keeps talking to a minimum). For the next 45 minutes, students work on ALEKS as I move around the room. During the last five minutes of class, they shut down their computers and visit. On non-ALEKS days, I hand out notes, lecture, and answer specific questions about the material covered in class. I also assign an ALEKS quiz covering the material we went over in lecture.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
Three out of five days we try to use ALEKS for instruction and review. The other two days are used for direct instruction in either a lecture or demonstration format. Quizzes are then used to evaluate this instruction.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
A large majority of these students do not have parental support at home. Notification of involvement with ALEKS is given to the parents and they are encouraged to have the students work on the program at home. Some actually do, but ALEKS is an additional math class for many of these kids, so homework is optional.
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?
No; homework in ALEKS is optional.
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
Grading breaks down as follows: quiz scores are 30 percent; assessment growth is 30 percent; time on task is 30 percent; and class participation/behavior is 10 percent. Grading is highly individualized in this area. It depends on the student, their ability, attitude, and background.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
Over 60 percent of the students in the remedial class have shown improvement on their ITED scores this year after using ALEKS. Many students like the ability to choose what they want to work on in ALEKS. They like the ability to go back and review, and they really like the part on quizzes that allows them to go back and look at an answer and change it before submitting. Also, many students think the overlap in material they see between ALEKS and their regular class is a benefit. They get to see material in a different way and it helps. All students feel ALEKS is less stressful than other curriculum options and allows them to easily see their progress. They also feel they are able to get help more quickly, either through the program or the teacher.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
Relate what students see in their regular classes to what ALEKS shows, and incorporate some group work into what they do. I also suggest allowing students to listen to music while working; it keeps talking to a minimum.