ALEKS - Assessment and Learning

Implementation Strategies

View a selection of implementation strategies from educators who are successfully using ALEKS to achieve dramatic learning outcomes. 

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The Bijou School, Colorado Springs School District 11
Colorado Springs, CO

Grade(s): 10 - 12
Scenario: Computer Lab
Purpose: RtI, Intervention, At-Risk Students
Time Spent in ALEKS: 5 hours per week, 45 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Algebra 1

Barbara Bullock, Teacher
I use ALEKS as part of an intervention class at our school. As a rule, the students are generally unmotivated and have lots of gaps in their math knowledge, including some with an extremely high knowledge level and some with extremely low skills. My skill level with computer-based interventions is low, and I am not always confident in my ability to use computers. To my surprise, over a ten week time frame I have become quite good at using ALEKS. I have found the technical support to be invaluable and I love using ALEKS with my diverse group of students.  I feel that some of them have even overcome their previous math phobias and because ALEKS is personalized for each student, everyone feels successful.


Scenario

What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
The biggest challenge is having gaps in math knowledge. When you have gaps it is hard to move forward to more challenging math concepts.

How many days per week is class time dedicated to ALEKS?
5 days per week.

What is the average length of a class period when ALEKS is used?
55 minutes.


Implementation

How do you implement ALEKS?
I have used ALEKS as an intervention this semester and, in the future I will use it with students who have a lot of gaps in their knowledge. ALEKS is great at meeting students where they are and then moving them forward.

Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
I let the students pick the order of topics. I find it works to have the students direct their own learning.

How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
The students sign on at the beginning of class and I have them work independently. I give individual challenges with prizes so that they beat their best score and I also give class challenges with prizes. Every other Friday I print a worksheet and have them work in pairs to cement skills and fill in learning gaps.

How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
I now offer more rewards and praise for tasks.

How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
I encourage them to work at home as often as they would like.

How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
We send a letter home to advise the parents of their students' participation in ALEKS.


Grading

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?
I give them the option of working from home. Some students have asked to work on it at home. I do not require it because the socio-economic background of our students limits their computer access at home.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Yes, I do expect them to make progress. I do not require a certain amount as long as it is progress. Some make huge jumps in their percentage mastery and others make small gains. I celebrate all of the success equally.


Learning Outcomes

Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
The best thing about ALEKS is the students' ability to track their own progress, which allows them to feel in charge of their learning. I now have charts and graphs with my students' progress to show the district. All of the students are enthusiastic about using ALEKS. They are able to see that math isn't as scary as they thought and as they make progress, they start to build their confidence. My favorite learning outcome was with one of my gifted and talented students. He was able to move forward and make great progress with ALEKS after he quit trying in math because of his perfectionism. ALEKS was the perfect solution to motivate him.


Best Practices

Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
I am very successful with giving daily challenges and rewards. I do a lot of praising and encouraging to get the students to overcome their math phobias.