View a selection of implementation strategies from educators who are successfully using ALEKS to achieve dramatic learning outcomes.
Brockton School, Brockton School District
Grade(s): K - 12
Scenario: Computers in Classroom
Purpose: RtI, After-School, Improve State Test Scores, Core Curriculum
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 70%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 3 hours per week, 30 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Algebra Readiness, Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, High School Geometry, Algebra 2
Jonathan E. Longden, Teacher
I use ALEKS to teach math and reinforce student skills. My main goal has been to use it as a reinforcement tool after the lesson is taught. This gives the students an opportunity to learn what their mistakes are and how to solve the problems correctly. I require students to keep notes in their notebooks while using ALEKS in order to build structural note taking skills and as a way for them to review, prepare, and see the strategies applied in solving certain problems. Overall, I am satisfied with the program because it builds problem solving skills and it isn't all about doing the math calculations.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
Some of the challenges that our school faces include the need for a program that would provide remedies for students who wanted to excel in math or for those who needed more help on basic objectives. Students needed to get more math practice, and receive a quick response on whether or not their answers are correct. They also needed a way to get one-on-one instruction. Since our school is so small, ALEKS helps our students become self-learners by reading the instructions on how to solve problems and asking the teacher for reinforcement while they aren't mastering their topics.
How many days per week is class time dedicated to ALEKS?
3-4 days per week.
What is the average length of a class period when ALEKS is used?
How do you implement ALEKS?
I specifically choose topics that are critical to master during the academic year. I set up quizzes or homework assignments for the students on topics they master in ALEKS.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
Yes, I align the course with the district curriculum and the textbook. We started on the first chapter and worked our way through the chapters.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
I provide guided practice with board demonstrations, and then I set up quizzes in ALEKS, which I call homework assignments. The students go over them as many times as they like until they get a 100 percent. I am looking for them to master a topic or a series of topics, and students usually master them after the third or fourth try on these quizzes.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
Yes, I had to modify my teaching strategy. I came up with a way for me to not have to grade papers and let ALEKS do the work for me by setting up quizzes as homework assignments. I would teach the lesson and re-instruct students later on ALEKS. However, some students need additional one-on-one instruction.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
Students do not log on often at home because of the lack of computers with Internet access. However, Saturday School and afterschool (extended day) programs have computers that are ready to use and are available to all students.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
ALEKS is explained to parents during parent conferences and other school events, but there is limited parent involvement in ALEKS. However, we use a reward system so that students feel responsible for working towards their goals.
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?
Yes, when I assign quizzes as homework assignments, each student has a week to get it done and mastered. Sometimes it is followed by another quiz to reinforce the subject being taught.
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
I outline my course objectives with the text and indicate how many chapters I expect the students to get through for the whole year. I then select topics in ALEKS to support the textbook chapters. For example, if I select eight chapters and the total number of topics in ALEKS for those eight chapters is 237, I expect the students to master that many topics in order to get an A for the class. I grade progress as 25 percent, assignments as 25 percent, quizzes and tests on ALEKS as 40 percent, and daily note taking as the last ten percent. I expect the students to take notes and be able to reflect on their note taking skills while working on ALEKS.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
I require them to write down the name of the topic they mastered for that day even if it was a review topic and hand it in at the end of the week in order for me to determine their progress and what areas they might need to work on.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
Students have been able to master curriculum objectives and work at their own pace, allowing them to get farther than they would if they were in a regular classroom environment. At our school, we have transitioned to one-on-one learning with the students, and using ALEKS has helped us target some of the students' weaknesses in math. The students' feelings towards ALEKS are uncertain at first, until they feel successful at mastering topics. They want to know right away if their answer is correct or incorrect, and ALEKS gives them the instant feedback that our students want and need. Students start to understand the process of how to master topics by clicking the Explain button. They read, understand, and reflect on their thoughts in the next problem. Students print out the instructions on how to solve a problem and use these to increase their reflective thinking skills while solving these problems. Overall, students feel successful after the final assessment, especially when I show them where they started from.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
Have the students keep a notebook to put all their ALEKS notes in. A notebook serves as a resource and as paper that can be used to show their work while they solve each problem. All this practice provides a way for the students to become self-learners even after a lesson is taught.