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Rancho Buena Vista High School, Vista Unified School District
Grade(s): 9 - 12
Scenario: Computer Lab
Purpose: Exit Exam
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 25-35%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 2 hours per week, 16-20 hours per term
Linda Van Solkema, Teacher
I am pleased with the opportunity for individualized learning that ALEKS provides; each student can progress more quickly. Students can't passively sit through class; they are able to learn at their appropriate level.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
It was difficult trying to teach such a wide range of student abilities which resulted in me teaching to the middle of the class; the strongest students were bored and the weakest students gave up. However, in ALEKS, each student is given different problems that best meet their individual needs.
How many days per week is class time dedicated to ALEKS?
2 days per week.
What is the average length of a class period when ALEKS is used?
How do you implement ALEKS?
The California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) class that I teach uses ALEKS 1-2 times per week, so ALEKS comprises 25-35% of the curriculum. The students individually work on their ALEKS pie in the library lab. On non-ALEKS days, we work through five modules preparing for the CAHSEE. For my Algebra 2 classes, some students use ALEKS to supplement their learning. I use ALEKS for warm-ups using my projector.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
No, students work individually on topics in any order they choose.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
On block periods consisting of two hour classes, I teach the first hour using the five module curriculum prescribed for CAHSEE classes. During the second hour of the class, students work on ALEKS in the library lab. On alternating Fridays, the students once again visit the ALEKS library lab.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
I assign time with ALEKS as homework; students have minimal homework outside of ALEKS.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
One hour per week.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
We present ALEKS at back-to-school nights and send newsletters home.
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, 30 percent.
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
In the CAHSEE class, the student's grade is 70 percent based on tests, quizzes, and class work from CAHSEE module work. The other 30 percent of the grade is based on ALEKS, including how much time is spent in the program and the amount of progress that is made.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
This is difficult since some concepts are much longer and harder to master than others. The students record their work on paper (problems and solutions). I assess what seems like a good effort (number of problems attempted per period). As I walk around the room, I assess which students are trying hard and which are not focused on ALEKS. As for the amount of progress, I try to reward improvement and individual student work.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
One specific student struggled in Algebra 2 because her skills were very weak and she had no confidence in her own abilities. After a good dose of ALEKS, she started to improve. This year she is in Pre-Calculus. She earned a "D-" in Algebra 2, but has now earned a "B-" in Pre-Calculus. Her growth and confidence, as a result of the progress she made in ALEKS, are astonishing.