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Scottsburg High School, Scott County School District 2
Grade(s): 9 - 12
Scenario: Computer Lab
Purpose: Core Curriculum
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 33%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 4.5 hours per week
ALEKS Course: Algebra 1
Rorie Lizenby, Teacher
ALEKS has been an extremely successful medium for teaching and mastering the Algebra 1 topics. About 95 percent of my students respond well to ALEKS, and most will say that they have enjoyed the mode of delivery. I have been very pleased with the program, its structure, and its ability to tailor the pacing to individual student needs. I feel like my students have made great progress in their math reading comprehension and monitoring their own learning. They generally work very hard to figure out a problem themselves, and only ask for my assistance as a last resort. I may not always feel as central to the learning process, but students are learning to learn for themselves, which is really what education is all about.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
We struggled with finding time to teach basic algebra concepts, while additionally getting students comfortable with computer-based assessment and math reading comprehension. ALEKS effectively achieves all three of these goals.
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?
Before ALEKS, the first two-thirds of the school year were taught in a fairly classic style with classroom lectures, worksheets, and tests. The last one-third of the year has been spent almost exclusively with ALEKS in order to prepare students for the Indiana Core 40 assessment.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
I generally just plan a lesson on a topic that I see some of my advanced students approaching. I choose lessons that I think they could all use the help on and would be difficult to understand, even with the computer explanations.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
My class meets in the computer lab four days per week and spends the entire 70 minute class period making as much progress as they can.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
One day per week, I do a more typical lesson on a particular topic in the classroom. I choose topics that I see my advanced students approaching that I think they will have a difficult time figuring out on their own. I recently realized that my teaching style on these days has morphed a bit to introduce the problem in a similar fashion on ALEKS. I put a problem on the board and I try to get the kids to share what their instincts tell them we should do. We try it and then I explain it. I then make them try one on their own. In years past, I would have stood up there and done eight more examples in a row before encouraging them to try one. Since working with ALEKS, my students are more engaged on the days that we do spend in the classroom.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
I have not encouraged my students to work at home yet.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
I have not, yet.
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 progress is the main component of my students' grades. Their assessment progress is 80 percent of their grade, and the remaining 20 percent is participation and effort.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
I keep an eye on learning progress and find that it is sufficient to nudge along the slower students with some encouraging words and some one-on-one assistance to get into the groove.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
Most students are proud of their progress in ALEKS. They like to compare their scores and the top students tend to compete a bit. I like to announce to the whole class the top five individuals who made the most progress in the Learning Mode for the week. While actual results have varied somewhat widely in my class, there are some students who the program has been amazing for. One student initially tested at 22 percent mastery and made it to 78 percent mastery in eight weeks. I can see significant improvements in her general understanding of Algebra concepts.