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Ann Arbor Public Schools
Ann Arbor, MI
Grade(s): 9 - 12
Scenario: Online School, Laptop Carts, Home Access
Purpose: Enrichment/Gifted and Talented, Summer School, Core Curriculum
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 75%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 5 hours per week, 90 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Algebra 1, High School Geometry, Algebra 2, PreCalculus
Susette Jaquette, Teacher/Online Coordinator
I am currently in my seventh year of developing an online math program that uses ALEKS as part of the curriculum. I have taught classes for our Flex Math program using the Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2 and Pre-Calculus courses. I currently coordinate the district's online program, which had over 800 enrollments this year. The online Flex Math with ALEKS program serves over 150 students a year and continues to grow. We have had many students who are able to advance at a faster pace using our Flex Math with ALEKS class. This allows more of our students to get to Calculus by their senior year. Additionally, students who would not be able to continue their math education because they could not attend school, have been able to continue working on their math education.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
Students who wanted to move at a faster pace were confined to taking two math classes at the same time. With the Flex Math with ALEKS program, students can complete a year-long math class during the summer or during a single semester. We also had students who had scored poorly on quizzes or chapter tests. With the Flex Math with ALEKS program, students can master objectives at their own pace and practice the assessments over and over. When it is time for the assessments that are graded, students have had many opportunities to practice. Students who have memory disabilities have a difficult time with math, but these students get a lot of memory practice due to the nature of the ALEKS assessments.
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?
ALEKS was originally offered as part of an online summer school and is now used during the school year as well. Currently, a teacher who uses ALEKS can offer both semesters of a class for courses such as Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, and Math Analysis (PreCalculus). Each section has a maximum of 33 students in the class.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
I cover the topics that the student needs. It is all individualized for each student.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
Our Flex Math with ALEKS teachers have an assigned period at the end of the day. Attendance during the class period is optional and is used for the teacher to work with individual students when they need help. Students can work on ALEKS at home or at school. They also receive instruction from an outside website that has a variety of online resources integrated with a textbook. The time students' work on ALEKS varies, but probably averages five hours per week.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
I do more teaching of the large topics and tying everything together. I don't need to spend time on developing worksheets that may or may not be what my students need. The ALEKS software individualizes all the skill work for the students. I don't need to write quizzes or tests. I also use the ALEKS assessments and our district's common assessment (final exam). Since ALEKS gives practice on individual skills, I don't spend much time with those. I look at the large concept and show the students where they use all of those individual skills.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
Each student and parent must attend an orientation session to learn about the program.
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?
It is 100 percent of their homework for most classes. There are a few classes that we use some supplements on our outside site as well.
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
Seventy-five percent of a student's grade is based on their ALEKS mastery. The grade is based on completion of topics from the course the student is enrolled in for the semester. The final percentage of completion is measured after a final ALEKS exam. An additional 20 percent of a student's grade is determined by the district's final exam, with the remaining 5 percent of the grade coming from outside assignments.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
All of our students are trying for progress to get them to 96 percent on the ALEKS assessment by the end of the semester. Students need to keep making some amount of progress. This is also individualized depending on their Initial Assessment.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
We have had many students who are able to advance at a faster pace using our Flex Math with ALEKS class. This allows more of our students to get to Calculus by their senior year. Students, who would not be able to continue their math education because they could not attend school, have been able to continue working on their math education. Students are also motivated by their progress in the program.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
Requiring students to give a weekly progress report to the instructor has been a good motivator for students. When a student is not making much progress, the instructor should require the student to come in for some face-to-face instruction. Require the students to keep their paper and pencil work in a notebook. It is easy to go over assessments with students when you can see their work in the notebook. Spend lecture time on the "whole." I teach everything there is to know about linear equations in a 20 minute lecture. This allows students can see how all the little pieces they have been working on in ALEKS fit into the bigger picture.