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Nolan Catholic High School, Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth
Ft. Worth, TX
Grade(s): 9 - 12
Scenario: Computer Lab
Purpose: Credit Recovery, Summer School, At-Risk Students
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 100%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 8 hours per week, 32 hours per term
ALEKS Course: High School Preparation for Algebra 1, Algebra 1, High School Geometry, Algebra 2
Katy Rodriguez, Teacher
ALEKS has been the main mathematics curriculum during summer school. We use it for remediation for Algebra 1 through PreCalculus. Likewise, we use the High School Preparation for Algebra 1 course for our incoming freshmen who have been identified as needing conceptual reinforcement. Students have been able to get critical and individualized positive reinforcement from their math curricula. The students enjoy seeing their pies fill in and like the ability to choose the topics they work on each day in the course. They also appreciate the self-pacing that ALEKS affords.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
For our incoming freshmen, we want the students to be able to hit the floor running as they enter Algebra 1. Texas requires four years of high school math beginning with Algebra, which increases possible frustrations for at-risk students. With ALEKS, we have been able to reinforce and stave off introductory problems with previously non-mastered concepts.
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 first saw the software at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) conference in Oklahoma City. We had been looking for software that would work in an individualized fashion for our students. Our math department chair followed my suggestion to use ALEKS, and the rest is history.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
Yes, I am very glad that I can modify the courses to fit with our school curriculum. The ordering usually reflects the second semester coursework. Also, I make students "bump" to the next topic after a week of summer school passes, so they are exposed to a variety of remediation.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
Students work exclusively on ALEKS during the class period.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
I am really more of a coach than a lecturer. Our math department is blessed to have a full time math tutor. During the summer school classes, he and I just look over the kids' shoulders and address individual needs.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
The students must complete about ten hours of homework time during the four-week summer school session.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
I talk to the parents about Internet connectivity issues. Also, they are encouraged to contact ALEKS to help their child be successful.
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?
Time spent constitutes 50 percent of the student's grade. Quizzes, which I generate through the ALEKS software, constitute the other 50 percent.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Time-wise, yes. As far as topics go, not really. They do, however, get moved into new concepts after a week passes.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
Students have been able to get critical and individualized positive reinforcement from their math curricula. The students enjoy seeing their pies fill in and like the ability to choose the topics they work on each day in the course. They also appreciate the self-pacing that ALEKS affords.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
I think teachers will appreciate the pre-test and the regular progress tests that ALEKS provides. I particularly liked that last summer I was able to tailor the topics and pacing of the courses that my students were enrolled in. I also liked the ability to make quizzes for the class. Finally, I really liked being able to tell by the time signature and topics successfully completed if the student was making satisfactory progress or just logging in and zoning out.