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San Mateo High School, San Mateo Union High School District
San Mateo, CA
Grade(s): 9 - 12
Scenario: Laptop Carts
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 25%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 1.5 hours per week, 27 hours per term
ALEKS Course: High School Preparation for Algebra 1
Valerie Krieman-Cintas, Teacher/Technology Coordinator
My 9th grade students are all English learners and are severely behind in basic skills. They appreciate using the Spanish version and they look forward to "computer Tuesdays." We have a block schedule and have class three times per week, and we use the program every Tuesday for 90 minutes. I have noticed that my students do feel pride when they see progress in their pie charts. It took months for most of them to finish their first slice, but to them this was a big accomplishment.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
All of my students are recent immigrants and are English learners. Most have severe gaps in their education. Most do not know their times tables and some are unfamiliar with the concept of division, fractions, and decimal numbers.
How many days per week is class time dedicated to ALEKS?
1 day per week.
What is the average length of a class period when ALEKS is used?
How do you implement ALEKS?
We created a new course called Algebra support. Students take this class in addition to their regular Algebra course. The ALEKS program is one component of the Algebra support class.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
Every Tuesday on a block day, the students use the entire period to work on the laptops.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
As the Algebra support class is new, I did not need to modify my regular teaching approach in the Algebra class.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
They are encouraged to work on ALEKS at home whenever they can. I am looking to implement a requirement next year.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
I do not currently.
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 not a homework requirement.
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
For the Algebra support class, their participation in ALEKS on Tuesdays is about 25 percent of their grade. Currently, I simply give full credit for participating, but I am working on a more structured grading system that reflects progress for next year.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
No, but again it is something we are working on for next year.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
My students have experienced significant progress in whole number and fraction skills, and feel a sense of pride. Few have progressed past what I would consider a middle school level, but considering that most started at elementary school level, I consider this significant progress. My hope is that when they repeat Algebra again next year, they will be better prepared and feel more confident. Many of my students feel that their Algebra class is simply too difficult for them, which in my opinion, it is. Due to state standards and district requirements, all 9th graders must take Algebra, regardless of their preparation or skills. The students fail tests in their Algebra class they get very discouraged. But when they come to the Algebra support class and use ALEKS, they feel that the topics are challenging but appropriate and they build confidence and get a chance to feel success.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
Know the different courses and how to assign different courses to students within the same class period.