View a selection of implementation strategies from educators who are successfully using ALEKS to achieve dramatic learning outcomes.
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Combs High School, J.O. Combs Unified School District
San Tan Valley, AZ
Grade(s): 9 - 12
Scenario: Laptop Carts
Purpose: Intervention, At-Risk Students, Supplement
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 10-100%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 2.5 hours per week, 90 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Foundations of High School Math, High School Preparation for Algebra 1, Algebra 1
Jessica Furman, Teacher
We use ALEKS as a remediation tool with a small group of students that are at least one grade level behind in math (many are 2-3 grade levels behind). It has been fantastic. We are currently in the process of securing funding to use it as a classroom resource for all Algebra students next year. Students are enthusiastic about being able to go at their own pace, view their own progress, and get assistance with the specific skills they are struggling with.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
Students have significant gaps in learning, and those gaps inhibit their progress in high school math classes. Class sizes are larger than we would like, and too often, we are not able to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of all learners. ALEKS allows teachers the flexibility to diversify instruction to target the individual needs of the students.
How many days per week is class time dedicated to ALEKS?
3 days per week.
What is the average length of a class period when ALEKS is used?
How do you implement ALEKS?
We had many students that were struggling to pass their math classes, and we recognized that students were having trouble because of their lack of basic math skills. We needed to find something that was going to allow classroom teachers to address the learning gaps of 35 different students simultaneously.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
This year, we are just allowing students to work in whatever order they choose.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
Classes utilize a split instruction framework. Students are divided into two groups. While half of the class works on ALEKS (laptop carts), the other half of the class has direct instruction with new material. Students switch groups halfway through the class period.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
The entire classroom environment and attitude has changed. Students receive more individualized instruction and more one-on-one assistance. Student motivation has increased, and teachers are able to address more student questions and concerns. Teachers are also able to cater the pace of the lesson to the smaller groups of students.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
Students are not required to work at home because many do not have Internet access. However, they are encouraged to do so and are offered extra credit for time spent and/or progress made outside of class time.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
Parents are provided a letter at the beginning of the program that explains the purpose of ALEKS, and periodic emails are sent to parents reminding them to ask their child about ALEKS and to see their progress. In parent conferences, the data available in ALEKS is very helpful in showing them their child's specific strengths and weaknesses.
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 part of homework.
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
ALEKS is part of students' classwork grade, which makes up 20 percent of their overall grade.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Students are expected to make 5-7 percent progress each week. This is measured based on the reports available through ALEKS.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
Students are thrilled with their progress, and some have more than doubled their pie on ALEKS. Students are motivated to work outside of class time, and even the most reluctant learners have made noticeable progress. Students are engaged, classroom disruptions are down, time-on-task is up, and students are able to say those magic words, "I get it now!" It's really amazing to have a student who struggles academically come up to you and say that he reached his goal. It's very important at the high school level that students fill in the gaps in their learning because those gaps become detrimental in the higher level math courses. Students in Algebra typically struggle with fractions and integers, and by continually reviewing those topics on ALEKS, students are more successful in the Algebra curriculum.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
If you haven't already purchased ALEKS, do so! ALEKS does more than any other math program I have seen. I tell my students that ALEKS is their own personal tutor.