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Baywood Learning Center, Oakland Unified School District
Grade(s): K - 12
Scenario: Computers in Classroom
Purpose: Enrichment/Gifted and Talented, Special Education, At-Risk Students
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 60%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 1-7.5 hours per week
ALEKS Course: Mathematics - LV 3 (with QuickTables), Mathematics - LV 4 (with QuickTables), Mathematics - LV 5 (with QuickTables), Pre-Algebra, High School Preparation for Algebra 1, Algebra 1, High School Geometry, PreCalculus, Trigonometry
Grace Neufeld, Director
Baywood Learning Center is an alternative school for gifted children. Our learners have a very high cognitive ability; therefore, their age has little to do with their academic grade level. These gifted children have a high need for autonomy. ALEKS is great for gifted students because they have some control over what to work on and can advance at an appropriate pace. This satisfies both their need for autonomy and their need for advancement. At one point, we had a six-year-old student who needed college level math. With ALEKS, we were able to let him work at his own level and his own pace. Most of our students love ALEKS because they can accomplish so much more than with a textbook.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
Prior to ALEKS, we had to have students work individually with tutors or specialists.
How many days per week is class time dedicated to ALEKS?
5 days per week.
What is the average length of a class period when ALEKS is used?
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
No, students determine this themselves. For instance, a student might have a goal of completing fifth grade, so he/she would choose which topic to complete by looking at their ALEKS pie chart, which clearly shows what work needs completion. Parents love ALEKS, too. ALEKS has wonderful reports on student progress that parents can look at to see in detail how their student is performing. This provides much ease for parents who need to have tangible product demonstrated because it takes a lot of stretching for parents to trust in the learner's choices.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
We have a morning period every day in which students may work on academic targets in Math and Language Arts that they designed with our staff and their parents. Every day each student works on their independent ALEKS program for a set agreed amount of time. If student goals are not met, the student may opt to continue progress at home. (i.e. "homework"). The Math and Language Arts time is usually five days per week from 15 minutes to 1.5 hours depending on student needs.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
If student goals are not met, the student may opt to continue progress at home. (i.e. "homework").
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
I show parents student progress with the reporting features of ALEKS. Parents are encouraged to use ALEKS at home if homework is needed.
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
Only a few of our students participate in a graded curriculum.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Yes. Goals are determined by the Learning Team. The Learning Team is composed of the student, the parent, and the mentor. The student participates in designing his/her academic goals. First, we determine and agree upon the annual scholastic goal, and then we establish the amount of time needed to achieve this goal on a daily basis. Daily reports are kept on each student's progress. We meet and review the program monthly to see if the goals are still appropriate and relevant to the student's learning.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
ALEKS is great for gifted students because they have some control over what to work on and can advance at an appropriate pace. This satisfies both their need for autonomy and their need for advancement. At one point, we had a six-year-old student who needed college level math. With ALEKS, we were able to let him work at his own level and his own pace. Most of our students love ALEKS because they can accomplish so much more than with a textbook.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
It's helpful to have the teacher's help along with ALEKS, so a teacher should be present and available at all times during math lab time. If a student gets stuck on a problem, they can get support from their teacher.