View a selection of implementation strategies from educators who are successfully using ALEKS to achieve dramatic learning outcomes.
Naco Elementary School, Naco Elementary District
Grade(s): K - 8
Scenario: Computer Lab
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 30%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 2.5 hours per week
ALEKS Course: Mathematics - LV 4 (with QuickTables)
Rhea Morales, Teacher
I have used ALEKS with elementary students in two school districts in Southeastern Arizona. For students with above average abilities in mathematics, they are able to work independently and benefit by having the ability to exceed at their own rate. I have looked at other web-based mathematics programs, all of which have multiple choice responses, and I prefer ALEKS. Students have to actually come up with a response to the majority of questions. In other programs, students often will make guesses until they get the correct answer.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
Our state standards changed in 2008 and more is expected of students at lower grades. Many of our students have Spanish as their first language, but reading and comprehension in English are the focus of instruction. Having the students read the lessons in English gives them another opportunity to master content area reading and comprehension skills.
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?
How do you implement ALEKS?
At first, I spent a few hours completing the fourth grade course on my own to determine which areas students might find difficulty. I showed students my sample ALEKS problems using a projector to show them what they would be seeing in the course. Now, students take their notebooks and pencils into the computer lab to use when working on ALEKS.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
I let students choose which topics they work on. Our students are in a small school and have few choices. Letting them choose their topics helps motivate them.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
I really like students to have the freedom to work on any area in the course where they have readiness. I have adjusted the amount of QuickTables time during the course to help student work on basic facts. Because of our limited time in the computer lab, I give scheduled assessments only once per month.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
If I am teaching a lesson and know that a particular student understands a concept very well, I will often let them work independently on ALEKS while I instruct the rest of the class. Sometimes I know that all students need review, while other times I want to motivate and reward students who already know a concept to allow them to learn more.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
Students are always encouraged to work on ALEKS at home or on any computer outside of school. However, few students at actually have Internet at home.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
Parents are told about ALEKS during the first parent-teacher conferences. Parents also receive quarterly reports detailing their child's progress. These are printed in the parents' preferred language, in either English or Spanish. Additionally, notes about student progress, either total percentage completed or percent increase, are sent home during the course.
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?
ALEKS has been included as part of our grading system, but it varies by grading period.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Students are not required to make specific amounts of progress. Sometimes students show more progress in the computer lab with ALEKS, while others show progress within the regular mathematics classroom. However, many students achieve progress in both.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
Students can get very excited about their progress. Many have discovered the importance of reviewing their skills, especially before an assessment, to help keep the topics gained in the Learning Mode from disappearing after an assessment. Additionally, our lower-ability students enjoy QuickTables and have found success there. Students will often say as we start a lesson, "Hey, I already know how to do that from ALEKS!" This is helpful, especially when students work in pairs or small groups, so students who understand new mathematical concepts can help their peers. Having access to each student's performance data also lets me know which students truly understand the lesson and not just those students who like to "parrot" that they understand something when they do not.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
Teachers who are excited about ALEKS will help students to be excited as well. Working through the same course as your students before they begin will help you find the lessons where they might need extra assistance.