View a selection of implementation strategies from educators who are successfully using ALEKS to achieve dramatic learning outcomes.
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Minnesota New Country School, Minnesota New Country School District
Grade(s): 6 - 12
Scenario: Computers in Classroom, Laptop Carts, Home Access
Purpose: Credit Recovery, Improve State Test Scores, At-Risk Students, Core Curriculum
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 100%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 5-6 hours per week, 20-25 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Middle School Math Course 2, Middle School Math Course 3, High School Preparation for Algebra 1, Algebra 1, High School Geometry, Algebra 2, PreCalculus
Colin O'Brien, Advisor/Teacher
At our school each student has a personal learning plan to meet their academic goals. After years of searching for a program that offers both rigor and individual pacing to meet their math goals, we finally came across ALEKS. With ALEKS, students are much more engaged and willing to put time into math. Based on data we have collected, they are progressing faster than other math programs we have used. The majority of students report that they prefer ALEKS to other programs they have used before. They are much more willing to come to math class and work through the curriculum. Often students report being very proud of how much progress they are making. A few students have even reported having a better attitude towards math.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
We have always had issues with students progressing slowly through their math homework. Often our struggling students would spend two years getting through Algebra or Geometry. We would have seniors who would still be trying to finish up their basic math requirements so they could graduate on time. In general, our students come in with a very negative attitude towards math.
How many days per week is class time dedicated to ALEKS?
4-5 days per week.
What is the average length of a class period when ALEKS is used?
How do you implement ALEKS?
In the past we have always used a combination of textbooks and worksheets in a small group format. During our initial trial of ALEKS, about 25 percent of the students used it as their primary curriculum. Going into next school year, ALEKS will become our primary math curriculum for all students. Students will have access to their own computer to work on ALEKS. We will use small working groups to provide students with the support they need. Advisors will monitor their reports to make sure they are making adequate progress. Once students master 85 percent of the curriculum, they will be allowed to move on to the next course.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
No specific order.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
We meet in the school's atrium and use laptops from a laptop cart. Students work independently in a half-circle so I can see their computers. I meet with students individually to talk about their progress and answer questions.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
I spend my time meeting with students regarding their progress and helping out when needed.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
We recommend that students log in for at least a half hour each day outside of their regular math class.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
Each month we send home a report detailing the students' progress in math. Some parents will email periodically to get Time and Topic Reports for their students.
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
We don't assign grades to our courses. Once a student masters 85 percent of the course content, they are moved to the next course. Based on the time and effort they put into the course, they receive credit towards their graduation requirements or electives.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
All students are expected to put 5-6 hours of work into math each week. We set individual progress goals for each student depending on where they are at in their course work.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
Students are much more engaged and willing to put time into math. Based on data we have collected, they are progressing faster than other math programs we have used. The majority of students report that they prefer ALEKS to other programs they have used before. They are much more willing to come to math class and work through the curriculum. Often students report being very proud of how much progress they are making. A few students have even reported having a better attitude towards math.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
Each week I meet with students who are not putting five hours a week into ALEKS or are simply not making progress. I identify these students quickly and easily using the Time and Topic Report. Individually, we try to troubleshoot where there are obstacles to their success are and make adjustments. We communicate with academic advisers and parents if there are issues we cannot resolve. By focusing on the students struggling the most, we are better able to mediate issues quickly and efficiently.