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Northgate Middle/High School, Northgate School District
Grade(s): 7 - 12
Scenario: Computers in Classroom
Purpose: Special Education
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 80%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 2-3.5 hours per week, 76-126 hours per term
ALEKS Course: MS RtI Tier 3, Algebra 1, Traditional Algebra 1, High School Geometry
Elizabeth Mohr, Special Education Teacher
Before beginning ALEKS with my students, most of them hated math. They were very discouraged and felt very unsuccessful. Now with piloting the ALEKS program in grades 7-12, the students BEG to go on the computer to do the program. The students have all made tremendous progress in their individual courses. Many have learned numerous new topics. The students LOVE the program. I also love the program, and feel that the explanations provided and the pace of the program is suited for all levels. The students work at their own pace, and it is a tool that is an invaluable learning resource! When students beg to do any type of learning activity, you KNOW it's a good program!
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
The ALEKS program is used with students who are at-risk or in Special Education services. Prior to using ALEKS, this group of students was identified as needing improvement on the state assessment. Most students were in the below basic range of the assessment, which put our school into corrective action. I feel that with ALEKS' assistance and learning tools, this group of students will show gains on the next state assessment.
How many days per week is class time dedicated to ALEKS?
3-5 days per week.
What is the average length of a class period when ALEKS is used?
How do you implement ALEKS?
The ALEKS program fits very nicely into the school curriculum. Many of the topics that are in each individualized class program are the topics that are covered in the math books. Therefore, the ALEKS program is in addition to what they have already learned or are learning in the curriculum, and reinforces or reviews topics that need to be covered for the state assessment.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
The students will come in and do a math drill for the first five minutes. When the drill is completed and reviewed, the students log onto the program and try to complete each problem independently with the help of the explanation in the program. If the students are still stuck, then they will receive help from the teacher. The students receive homework worksheets 2-3 times per week that are generated from the ALEKS program. The students also have one quiz per week that is generated from the program but allows the teacher to pick the topics that are necessary for each individual student.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
The ALEKS program allows me to see what the students are really struggling with. Therefore, the topics that the majority of the students are struggling with are topics that I will review with the whole class. For example, most students in the seventh and eighth grade classes who are in the Response to Intervention (RtI) level three program were struggling with elapsed time and measurement units. Therefore, these were topics that I covered in the last two weeks in order to remediate their weaknesses. I have seen tremendous improvements in this area.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
They are not encouraged to work at home as at this time we are piloting the program at school, and I like to watch over the students and see what they are doing.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
I incorporate ALEKS into the Individualized Education Program (IEP) and have shared with parents how their students are performing on each area. Parents are thrilled to see the improvements and success that their students are making.
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 their homework assignment. I assign ALEKS as their entire homework because it works on what the individual student needs assistance on or what they have currently been working on.
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
Daily computer work for ALEKS is about 50 percent of their grade, homework is about 20 percent, quizzes are worth ten percent, and classroom work is another ten percent.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
I do not require students to make progress because they are naturally making progress on their own. Progress is measured by their quiz grades and the amount of improvement they show on the daily ALEKS program. You can see progress by looking at their pie, which the students love to see as well. In the teacher login, you can also see how much progress each student is making by looking at how many topics they have learned since the last assessment.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
The students have all made tremendous progress in their individual courses. Many have learned numerous new topics. One student has already completed his first course within three weeks! The students LOVE the program. They become upset if they cannot use the program that day in math class. They beg to go on the program daily, and in my Special Education class, if students beg to do any type of learning activity, you KNOW it's a good program!
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
I think that implementing ALEKS on a weekly basis, 3-5 times per week, and assigning quizzes and homework reinforce classroom learning.