View a selection of implementation strategies from educators who are successfully using ALEKS to achieve dramatic learning outcomes.
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West Aurora High School, Aurora West Unified School District 129
Grade(s): 9 - 12
Scenario: Computer Lab, Home Access
Purpose: Intervention, Credit Recovery, At-Risk Students, Core Curriculum
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 50%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 2.5 hours per week, 20 hours per term
ALEKS Course: High School Geometry
Patricia Butler, Mathematics Specialist
I use ALEKS with students in my Geometry class who are a semester behind due to failing a semester of Algebra. I have been looking for a way to get them back on track, and ALEKS has provided me with a solution that is incredibly easy. I have created what I call a "Fast Paced Geometry" course which covers the entire year in one semester. We do a lot of traditional work out of the textbook, and I also have them go through the entire course using ALEKS. We go into the lab once a week so I can monitor students' ALEKS progress in school and also make sure they are actually doing the work themselves. They have a minimum amount of time I expect them to be online outside of class, and a minimum overall percentage of mastered topics they have to achieve. My students enjoy using the two formats and appreciate the opportunity to "catch up" without missing content. As a result, 50 percent of my students have earned double credit, and 80 percent have earned at least one semester of credit. Considering the fact that this is a group of students who had already failed, this is an amazing result.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
These students had all failed a previous semester of Algebra 1.
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?
I am able to go in and adjust the topics that my students do in ALEKS High School Geometry. I do not have to modify much, but there are a few topics that we do not include in our course.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
We use ALEKS one day a week for the entire period. I also require them to work on ALEKS outside of class, either at home or at school during a free period.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
My students really like that they see each topic presented in both a traditional classroom setting and on the computer. I find it interesting that the order never really matters to them. Some topics they do in ALEKS are brand new to them, and then later we do them in class; some are just the opposite. Students just like knowing that they see things two different ways.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
Students have to use ALEKS at home for 1.5 hours per week.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
I send an initial letter home indicating what my goals are for the program, and then send two follow-up letters so that the parents are aware of the work I am seeing. In some cases, I ask them to help monitor their student when they use ALEKS at 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?
ALEKS is about one-third to one-half of their overall homework.
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
ALEKS is 50 percent of their grade. They have to meet the minimum time requirement and the minimum percent of mastered topics in each category. Meeting these minimums gives them a "C" in that 50 percent of their grade. I adjust for other grade equivalents based on how they fluctuate from these goals.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Only by the end of the semester.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
I followed-up with the students to see if they have continued to be successful in their next class. Overall, those who received double credit to get back on track are continuing to do very well now. Students are always very positive about the opportunity to use ALEKS. Their only complaint is when they are asked questions from prior assessments and have to go back and redo things because they did not get it correct in their most recent assessment. I explain to them that learning means they can transfer their knowledge, and if they can't even get the questions right after a few weeks, how will they be able to transfer that knowledge later? They have never complained again; it is amazing.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
Don't use ALEKS in isolation. It is a great tool when used in combination with more traditional classroom strategies. Using it strictly for credit recovery would make it difficult for a student to be able to go back to a regular classroom setting.