View a selection of implementation strategies from educators who are successfully using ALEKS to achieve dramatic learning outcomes.
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William Henry Harrison High School, Tippecanoe School Corporation
West Lafayette, IN
Grade(s): 9 - 10
Scenario: Computer Lab, Computers in Classroom
Purpose: Intervention, Improve State Test Scores, At-Risk Students, Core Curriculum
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 50%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 2.5 hours per week, 36-45 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Middle School Math Course 2, Algebra Readiness, Algebra 1, High School Geometry, PreCalculus, Trigonometry
Jennifer Collicott, Teacher
We are using ALEKS to remediate students who are not at grade level when they reach high school. I start ninth graders at sixth grade math, then seventh grade math, Foundations of High School Math, and then Algebra 1. We use ALEKS to help our kids pass the End-of-Course Assessment (ECA) as well, which is required for their diploma. ALEKS is also helpful to evaluate students who need to be tested. If they do not progress through the sixth grade math program, we view this as an indication that the student needs to be tested. The ALEKS Reports serve as documentation for this progress.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
Despite the fact that I teach small class sizes (18 is the largest number of students in my room) and the fact that I check their homework, I still had students practicing the math skills incorrectly. Lower students experience higher achievement after working on ALEKS. It forces the students to get answers correct. Also, working on computers breaks up the monotony of paper and pencil tasks.
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?
They need to complete one ALEKS program every nine weeks. If students complete at least 70-85 percent of an ALEKS course, they are allowed to move to another course. I find that completing 70-75 percent of Middle School Math Course 1 and 2 is enough to move the student on to the next course. Closer to 80 percent completion of the course is best to pass Foundations of High School Math. Our students in Indiana must pass an end-of-course assessment for Algebra 1 to receive a diploma. ALEKS is helping our students achieve this goal.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
Middle School Math Course 1, Middle School Math Course 2, Foundations of High School Math, Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, PreCalculus, Trigonometry
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
For the first half of class, half of the kids work on homework and the rest work on ALEKS. Then we switch. I have nine computers and 18 kids in my classroom. The switch actually works well. I move between the two groups pretty easily.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
I recommend tasks that students should focus on in ALEKS to support the curriculum. This really helps to reinforce the classroom topics I am teaching. Otherwise, the students get to pick what they want to work on. As they get closer to 70 percent topics completed, I use the ALEKS Reports to select the topics that I think are most important for them to move up.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
They don't all have computers, so I can't require my students to work at home. I highly encourage those who have computers to do so. Over the next few years, all of our students will have laptops, so this will be less of an issue.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
We explain to the parents the importance of ALEKS, and how the program has helped the students to be more successful in high school math.
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?
No. When my students receive a laptop, I will be able to require more work from them.
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
My grading is broken down into 50 percent for effort, and 50 percent for progress.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
In Pre-Algebra, I expect them to be on Foundations of High School Math by the end of the school year. In Algebra 1, I expect them to be on Algebra 2 by the end of the school year.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
The students do better in math, and the extra practice helps them to remember the material. Since they have to get the answer correct, the students are forced to be accurate. Otherwise, they have to keep practicing the same topics over and over again. The students see their improvement. All of my Pre-Algebra students who move into Foundations of High School Math by the end of the year end up as the "top students." Also, all of my Algebra 1 students who have at least 60 percent of Algebra 1 topics completed end up as the "top students" in Algebra 1.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
Start the students at a lower course than you would think. I used to begin my ninth grade students at seventh grade math and found that it was too high and the students were struggling too much. Now, I start them out on sixth grade math, and while they still work hard, they are more independent and make more progress.