View a selection of implementation strategies from educators who are successfully using ALEKS to achieve dramatic learning outcomes.
Sehome High School, Bellingham Public Schools
Grade(s): 9 - 12
Scenario: Computer Lab
Purpose: RtI, Credit Recovery, At-Risk Students, Improve State Test Scores
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 100%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 5 hours per week; 90 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Mathematics - LV 3 (with QuickTables), Mathematics - LV 4 (with QuickTables), Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Prep for GED Mathematics
Ginger Thompson, Teacher
I have been working with three classes of students who, for various reasons, have not passed the state standards test in mathematics for high school. My students consist of English Language Learner (ELL) students, special education students, and regular education students with low math skills. These students' skills range from third grade to high school Algebra. We work in the lab four days per week and assess weekly or bi-monthly. These assessments are primarily progress assessments; two to three times a semester, I give my students a comprehensive assessment. I am able to document the academic growth in math for all of my students. I am no longer teaching topics regardless of whether a student is ready to learn. For the first time for many of my students, they are working on what they are ready to learn, and not what their classmates are ready to learn. Some of these students had behavior issues in their previous math courses because the material was out of reach for them. Some students had no confidence in their ability to learn math; they had been defeated and had shut down. Others would literally cry when they were told they were going to have a test. Now, all of my students are engaged in their learning. They show perseverance and pride in their progress, and have become independent learners in math and see that math can be a possibility in their futures.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
There was no way to individualize instruction for our low-end kids. We would teach skill sets, assuming students were ready to learn and try to plug the holes when we could. Students were frustrated with learning, felt stupid, and incapable of learning.
How many days per week is class time dedicated to ALEKS?
4 days per week.
What is the average length of a class period when ALEKS is used?
How do you implement ALEKS?
I attended the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Meeting and saw a presentation. I presented the idea to my principal for our Math Fundamentals course. We received funding, enrolled the students, and began working. It has been very easy and user-friendly to get going for both me and my students.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
No, I let students self-direct according to what is available on their pie charts.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
My students come in, get logged on, and have a choice to work on their pie or QuickTables. I limit their use of QuickTables depending on the length of the period or number of times we meet that particular week. Students usually get assessed once every week or two.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
For our below standard students, the course went from general teaching of skills to complete individualization.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
It is always encouraged, but not yet required. Access isn't always available for all students.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
Parents may receive e-mail reports of their student progress, and are encouraged to have their students log on to show what they are working on and their pie chart.
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?
50 percent of the grade is showing progress on assessments, and 50 percent is attendance and in-class work ethic.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
I use a reflection of progress over time, explaining to students that learning should occur in an upward trend - not necessarily linear, maybe more of a wave. There will be times when it is more difficult or takes more practice to lock information into their long-term memory, but with perseverance and consistent efforts, it will take hold. This way, they see that they can overcome the difficulties and keep after a skill. It shows that it's important to keep working on skills, not just learn and purge information.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
I have seen students gain mastery on 60 percent or more of the course skills, and show retention on the comprehensive assessments. My students are no longer being the distracters in the classroom, but are actively engaged in their learning. My students now have confidence to sit down and problem solve, use resources, and ask for help.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
Personalization has been key to my experience with my students. ALEKS focuses on what the student should be working on and providing the problems.